Object pronoun

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In linguistics, an object pronoun is a personal pronoun that is used typically as a grammatical object: the direct or indirect object of a verb, or the object of a preposition. Object pronouns contrast with subject pronouns. Object pronouns in English take the objective case, sometimes called the oblique case or object case.[1] For example, the English object pronoun me is found in "They see me" (direct object), "He's giving me my book" (indirect object), and "Sit with me" (object of a preposition); this contrasts with the subject pronoun in "I see them," "I am getting my book," and "I am sitting here."

Modern English[edit]

The English personal and interrogative pronouns have the following subject and object forms:

Singular subject
pronoun
Singular object
pronoun
I me
you
he him
she her
it
Plural subject
pronoun
Plural object
pronoun
we us
you
they them
Interrogative subject
pronoun
Interrogative object
pronoun
who whom
what

Middle English[edit]

Historically in Middle English the pronoun "you" had separate singular and plural forms with subjective and objective forms of both.

=center thou thee
Plural subject
pronoun
Plural Object pronoun
ye you

Other languages[edit]

In some languages the direct object pronoun and the indirect object pronoun have separate forms. For example, in Spanish, direct object: Lo mandaron a la escuela (They sent him to school) and indirect object: Le mandaron una carta (They sent him a letter). Other languages divide object pronouns into a larger variety of classes. On the other hand, many languages, for example Persian, do not have distinct object pronouns: Man Farsi balad-am (I can speak Persian). Man ra mishenasad. (He knows me).

History[edit]

Object pronouns, in languages where they are distinguished from subject pronouns, are typically a vestige of an older case system. English, for example, once had an extensive declension system that specified distinct accusative and dative case forms for both nouns and pronouns. And after a preposition, a noun or pronoun could be in either of these cases, or in the genitive or instrumental case. With the exception of the genitive (the "apostrophe-s" form), in nouns this system disappeared entirely, while in personal pronouns it collapsed into a single case, covering the roles of both accusative and dative, as well as all instances after a preposition. That is, the new oblique (object) case came to be used for the object of either a verb or a preposition, contrasting with the genitive, which links two nouns.

For a discussion of the use of historically object pronouns in subject position in English (e.g. "Jay and me will arrive later"), see the article on English personal pronouns.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (London: Longman, 1985), p. 337.