A big brouhaha was made (again) a couple of weeks ago over something our president said. The gaffe really boiled down to the misuse of a pronoun. If only he had said “those” instead of “that,” every American would have held hands and hummed “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Team Jacob, Team Edward, Cubs and Sox fans, Rob and Kristen would be living in peace now.
But I’m not interested in talking about politics. I want to talk about pronouns. (Let’s talk about pronouns baby. Let’s talk about “you” and “me.”) After Obama’s blunder, I realized I could have made the same mistake, and I needed a refresher course. I looked up the EIGHT different categories of pronouns, and the categories within those categories. Singular, plural, either, first person, second person, third person, subjective, objective, possessive . . . how does anybody ever learn this language? And why?
Because it’s fun, that’s why – like a good Sudoku or Solitaire. But it ain’t sexy. So, I’ll understand if this is where we part ways.
It all starts with an agreement. This agreement is an iron clad; hock a loogie in your hand and shake kind of deal between the pronoun and antecedent. Agreeing to disagree is not an option.
- Pronoun – substitution for a noun
- Antecedent – the word (or phrase) for which the pronoun is subbing
Example: Jasmine (antecedent) is a cat. She (pronoun) was a supermodel in a past life.
- Person – first person (I, me, we, us), second person (you), third person (she, her, he, him, it, they, them)
- Gender – masculine (he, him, his), feminine (she, her, hers), genderless (not the official term)
- Number – singular (I, me, he, she, it, anyone, this, that), plural (we, us, they, them, all, these, those)
In my research, I counted 77 different pronouns. That’s a lot of freakin’ pronouns. (Pardon me. Those are a lot of freakin’ pronouns. Or . . . that number is a high freakin’ number of pronouns. I’m confused.) This pronoun-antecedent agreement can be a knotted mess, and I’m sure a lot of my stories and posts need untangling (including this one). Does anyone have a flowchart?
– Anita, Noted in Nashville