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Are there really 111 pronouns in English?

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Brock
1383825.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 5:09 am Reply with quote

(Ref. post 1383820)

Brock wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
There are, it seems, 111 pronouns in English.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/62/f8/33/62f833177d6bf005a01317ad71be78b5.jpg

Surprisingly to me it appears that 'wherewithal' is one of them as is the more prosaic 'who'.


That list is highly inaccurate. I would estimate that at least half the words on it aren't pronouns. A subject for another thread though.


Having looked through the list in detail, I realize there are a number of words that may have an alternative use as a pronoun as well as another part of speech, so I've revised my estimate down to around a quarter. But I would say that the following words in the list are definitely not pronouns:

Possessive determiners - its, my, our, their, your
Adverbs - somewhat, whence, where, whereby, wherefrom, wherein, whereinto, whereof, wherever, wherewith
Nouns - whatnot, wherewithal
Conjunction - whether

Additionally, there are a number of entries that once were used as pronouns but are now seen as archaic: aught, naught, ought, thee (but why not "thou"?), whichsoever, whomso, whomsoever, whosesoever

Uncertainties include:

Other: only an adjective as far as I'm concerned. The COED also lists it as a pronoun, but doesn't appear to give an example of its use.
Theirself, theirselves: not standard English as far as I'm concerned. The COED lists "theirselves" as dialect and doesn't mention "theirself" at all.
Themself: marked "informal" in the COED, though probably now acceptable as a gender-neutral singular pronoun.
Idem: I'd hesitate to give this a part of speech at all, since it's only used in academic citations as far as I'm aware. The COED calls it an adverb.
As: The COED doesn't list this as a pronoun, although Fowler's Modern English Usage (4th ed.) calls it a relative pronoun in constructions like "we can expect the same number to turn up as came last year".
Ourself: I thought this could only be used by the Queen! MEU cites a few examples like "she tells us things about ourself" (Martin Amis), calling them "not very common... standard, if specialized".

I'd be interested to hear other people's judgements.

 
Brock
1383826.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 6:34 am Reply with quote

On the other hand, "oneself" has been omitted from the list. There may be other omissions.

 
Celebaelin
1383837.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 9:17 am Reply with quote

Another list suggests 121; I am not in a position to offer a personal opinion regarding the merits of these claims or the distinction between a pronoun and a pronominal adjective - this list also contains 'wherewithal' however as well as both 'thee' and 'thou'.

Quote:
A full list of every word that can be considered a pronoun or pronominal adjective:

all
another
any
anybody
anyone
anything
as
aught
both
each
each other
either
enough
everybody
everyone
everything
few
he
her
hers
herself
him
himself
his
I
idem
it
its
itself
many
me
mine
most
my
myself
naught
neither
no one
nobody
none
nothing
nought
one
one another
other
others
ought
our
ours
ourself
ourselves
several
she
some
somebody
someone
something
somewhat
such
suchlike
that
thee
their
theirs
theirself
theirselves
them
themself
themselves
there
these
they
thine
this
those
thou
thy
thyself
us
we
what
whatever
whatnot
whatsoever
whence
where
whereby
wherefrom
wherein
whereinto
whereof
whereon
wherever
wheresoever
whereto
whereunto
wherewith
wherewithal
whether
which
whichever
whichsoever
who
whoever
whom
whomever
whomso
whomsoever
whose
whosever
whosesoever
whoso
whosoever
ye
yon
yonder
you
your
yours
yourself
yourselves

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/List-of-pronouns.htm

 
Brock
1383845.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 10:10 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Another list suggests 121


As far as I can see, that's identical to the first list with the addition of seven archaic words: "thine", "thou", "thy", "thyself", "ye", "yon" and "yonder" (suggesting I've missed three; I haven't counted them all up though). All of those apart from "thy" and "yonder" are pronouns. "Thy" is in the same category as "my", "your" etc.; "yonder" is not a pronoun as far as I know (though it can be an adverb, determiner or noun).

This would suggest that the two lists have a common source, or that one is derived from the other.

Quote:
I am not in a position to offer a personal opinion regarding the merits of these claims or the distinction between a pronoun and a pronominal adjective
.

A "pronominal adjective" is an adjective derived from a pronoun, like "my", "your" and so on. (I referred to them as "possessive determiners" in my earlier post, since I regard "determiner" as a separate part of speech from "adjective".) Some older grammar books lump them in with pronouns, but as far as I'm concerned they're not pronouns because they don't stand in for a noun or noun phrase. I think that's the general view amongst grammarians nowadays.

Quote:
This list also contains 'wherewithal' however as well as both 'thee' and 'thou'.


"Wherewithal" is clearly not a pronoun of any sort; it's a noun meaning "the money or other means needed for a particular purpose". (Nor is "whatnot", which is either the name of a piece of furniture or a vague term similar to "thingummy" or "whatchamacallit".) Whether you choose to include "thee" and "thou" depends on whether you think archaisms should be considered part of the language, but it makes no sense to include one and not the other.

 
ali
1383850.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 10:50 am Reply with quote

A quick search suggests that the pronominal usage of 'wherewithal' is archaic. Here is what Merriam-Webster has to say:

Quote:
Wherewithal has been with us in one form or another since the 16th century. It comes from "where" and "withal" (meaning "with"), and it has been used as a conjunction meaning "with or by means of which" and as a pronoun meaning "that with or by which." These days, however, it is almost always used as a noun referring to the means or resources one has at one's disposal - especially financial resources, that is, money.


They don't offer any citations or exemplars other than for modern use as a noun though.

 
PDR
1383851.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 11:06 am Reply with quote

As I understand it Pronouns are similar to ordinary nouns but are the ones used by the trade. So they are usually priced net of VAT and have no automatic refund rights under the Distance Selling Regulations.

PDR

 
suze
1383852.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 11:19 am Reply with quote

Brock wrote:
A "pronominal adjective" is an adjective derived from a pronoun, like "my", "your" and so on.

As far as I'm concerned they're not pronouns because they don't stand in for a noun or noun phrase. I think that's the general view amongst grammarians nowadays.


It is certainly the view expected in A level Eng Lang. It is of course purely a matter of labeling and matters not at all, but parsing has come back into fashion as an academic exercise since the Gove Era, and students are expected to identify my and its kin as adjectives.


Now, for wherewithal as a pronoun I went to the OED, which sent me to Shakespeare.

"Northumberland, thou ladder wherewithal
The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne"

(Richard II, V.i)

Wherewithal here means "by means of which", and in A level Eng Lang that's one of those tedious particles*. Under the traditionalist view whereby relative pronouns are pronouns - which view is easily challenged on the grounds that a relative pronoun does not necessarily stand for a noun - then it's one of those.


* As I noted yesterday, particle is a meaningless term for any word which is not easily classified as any other part of speech. Articles too are particles, much as the traditionalist probably wants them to be adjectives.

 
Brock
1383855.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 11:33 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

"Northumberland, thou ladder wherewithal
The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne"

(Richard II, V.i)

Wherewithal here means "by means of which", and in A level Eng Lang that's one of those tedious particles*.


I'd call it a "relative adverb", but I'm not sure if that term is generally recognized.

 
suze
1383882.  Fri Jun 25, 2021 4:02 pm Reply with quote

That term is used in some grammars, although more in grammars aimed at TEFL teachers than grammars aimed at native speakers.

It suffers from the same weakness as the term "relative pronoun", in that a relative adverb isn't altogether an adverb as that term is usually understood. But fwiw, the OED is with you here and considers wherewithal to be an adverb there.

 

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