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In linguistics, grammatical person is the grammatical distinction between deictic references to participant(s) in an event; typically the distinction is between the speaker (first person), the addressee (second person), and others (third person). A language's set of personal pronouns are defined by grammatical person, but other pronouns would not. First person includes the speaker (English: I, we, me, and us), second person is the person or people spoken to (English: you), and third person includes all that are not listed above (English: he, she, it, they, him, her, them). It also frequently affects verbs, and sometimes nouns or possessive relationships.
Some other languages use different classifying systems, especially in the plural pronouns. One frequently found difference not present in most Indo-European languages is a contrast between inclusive and exclusive "we": a distinction of first-person plural pronouns between including or excluding the addressee.
Many languages express person with different morphemes in order to distinguish degrees of formality and informality. A simple honorific system common among European languages is the T–V distinction. Some other languages have much more elaborate systems of formality that go well beyond the T–V distinction, and use many different pronouns and verb forms that express the speaker's relationship with the people they are addressing. Many Malayo-Polynesian languages, such as Javanese and Balinese, are well known for their complex systems of honorifics; Japanese, Korean, and Chinese also have similar systems to a lesser extent.
Effect on verbs
- I am (first-person singular)
- you are/thou art (second-person singular)
- he, she, one, it is (third-person singular)
- we are (first-person plural)
- you are/ye are (second-person plural)
- they are (third-person plural)
Other verbs in English take the suffix -s to mark the present tense third person singular, excluding singular 'they'.
In many languages, such as French, the verb in any given tense takes a different suffix for any of the various combinations of person and number of the subject.
The grammar of some languages divide the semantic space into more than three persons. The extra categories may be termed fourth person, fifth person, etc. Such terms are not absolute but can refer depending on context to any of several phenomena.
Some Algonquian languages and Salishan languages divide the category of third person into two parts: proximate for a more topical third person, and obviative for a less topical third person. The obviative is sometimes called the fourth person. In this manner, Hindi and Bangla may also categorize pronouns in the fourth, and with the latter a fifth person.
The term fourth person is also sometimes used for the category of indefinite or generic referents, which work like one in English phrases such as "one should be prepared" or people in people say that..., when the grammar treats them differently from ordinary third-person forms. The so-called "zero person" in Finnish and related languages, in addition to passive voice may serve to leave the subject-referent open. Zero person subjects are sometimes translated as "one," but the problem with that is that English language constructions involving one, e.g. "One hopes that will not happen," are rare and could be considered expressive of an overly academic tone to the majority of people, while Finnish sentences like "Ei saa koskettaacode: fin promoted to code: fi " ("Not allowed to touch") are recognizable to and used by young children in both languages.
English personal pronouns in the nominative case
|Pronoun||Person and number||Gender|
|you||Second-person singular or second-person plural|
|he||Third-person masculine singular||masculine|
|she||Third-person feminine singular||feminine|
|it||Third-person neuter (and inanimate) singular||neuter|
|they||Third-person plural or gender-neutral singular||epicene|
|me||First-person singular, dialectal Caribbean English and colloquial special uses|
|thee||Second-person singular, literary, dialectal Yorkshire, and occasional use by Quakers|
|allyuh||Second-person plural, many English-based creole languages, dialectal Caribbean English|
|unu||Second-person plural, many English-based creole languages, dialectal Caribbean English|
|y'all||Second-person plural, dialectal Southern American, Texan English, and African-American English|
|ye||Second-person plural, dialectal Hiberno-English and Newfoundland English|
|yinz||Second-person plural, Scots, dialectal Scottish English, Pittsburgh English|
|you guys||Second-person plural, dialectal American English and Canadian English|
|you(r) lot||Second-person plural, dialectal British English|
|youse||Second-person plural, Australian English, many urban American dialects like New York City English and Chicago English, as well as Ottawa Valley English. Sporadic usage in some British English dialects, such as Mancunian.|
|yourse||Second-person plural, Scots, dialect Central Scottish Lowlands, Scouse, Cumbrian, Tyneside, Hiberno English.|
|us||First-person plural subject, as in, us guys are going...|
|them||Third-person plural subject, as in, them girls drove...|
|thou||Second-person singular informal subject|
- English personal pronouns
- Gender-neutral pronoun
- Gender-specific pronoun
- Generic antecedents
- Generic you
- Grammatical conjugation
- Grammatical number
- Personal pronoun
- Singular they
- First Person Singular (disambiguation) § Literature and § Film and television.
- First Person Plural, a book by Cameron West.
- Second Person Singular, a book by Sayed Kashua.
- Third Person Singular Number, a film by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki.
- Third Person Plural, a film directed by James Ricketson and starring Bryan Brown.
- Hattum, Ton van (2006). "First, Second, Third Person: Grammatical Person". Ton van Hattum.
- Filimonova, Elena (2005). Clusivity: Typology and Case Studies of Inclusive-exclusive Distinction. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-2974-8.[page needed]
- Itoh, Keiko (2016). "Japanese Honorifics". My Shanghai, 1942-1946. Amsterdam University Press. pp. x–xi. doi:10.1515/9781898823414-003. ISBN 978-1-898823-41-4. JSTOR j.ctt1s17nnj.5.
- Byon, Andrew Sangpil (2000). "Teaching Korean honorifics". The Korean Language in America. 5: 275–289. JSTOR 42922325.
- Harrigan, Atticus G.; Schmirler, Katherine; Arppe, Antti; Antonsen, Lene; Trosterud, Trond; Wolvengrey, Arok (November 2017). "Learning from the computational modelling of Plains Cree verbs". Morphology. 27 (4): 565–598. doi:10.1007/s11525-017-9315-x. S2CID 10649070.
- Laitinen, Lea (2006). "Zero person in Finnish: A grammatical resource for construing human reference". Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. 277: 209–231. doi:10.1075/cilt.277.15lai.
- Leinonen, Marja (January 1983). "Generic zero subjects in Finnish and Russian". Scando-Slavica. 29 (1): 143–161. doi:10.1080/00806768308600841.