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Lecture 5 Old English grammar.doc
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The pronoun and the article

Of the various kinds of pronouns found in Modern English some (namely the personal, the possessive, the demonstrative, the interrogative, and a number of indefinite pronouns) existed already in Old English, others (the reflexive and emphatic, as well as the modern relative and conjunctive pronouns what, which, who) evolved later.

In Old English all the pronouns were declinable: the personal pronouns had four cases, the other kinds, declined like strong adjectives, five (the fifth being the instrumental).

The pronoun

OE pronouns fell roughly under the same classes as modern pronouns: personal, demonstrative, interrogative and indefinite. As for the other groups – relative, possessive and reflexive – they were as yet not fully developed and were not always distinctly separated from the four main classes. The grammatical categories of the pronouns were either similar to those of nouns (in ''noun-pronouns'') or corresponded to those of adjective (in ''adjective pronouns''). some features of pronouns were peculiar to them alone.

Personal Pronouns

OE personal pronouns had three persons, three numbers in the 1st and 2nd p. (two numbers – in the 3rd) and three genders in the 3rd p. The pronouns of the 1st and 2nd p. had suppletive forms like their parallels in other IE languages. The pronouns of the 3rs p., having originated from demonstrative pronouns, had many affinities with the latter.

Declension of Personal Pronouns

First person

Case Singular

Nom. ic

Gen. mīn

Dat.

Acc. mec, mē

Dual

wit

uncer

unc

uncit

Plural

ūre, ūser

ūs

ūsic, ūs

Second person

Nom. Þū

Gen. Þīn

Dat. Þē

Acc. Þēc, Þē

git

incer

inc

incit, inc

ge

ēower

ēow

ēowic, ēow

Third person

Singular

Plural

M F N

All genders

Nom. hē hēo, hÏo hit

Gen. his hire,hiere his

Dat. him hire,hiere him

Acc. hine hÏe, hÏ,hŷ hit

hīe, hēo

hira, heora, hiera, hyra

him, heom

hīe, hī, hŷ, hēo

In Old English the personal pronouns had the following forms for the singular and the plural.

The Demonstrative Pronouns

In Old English there were 2 demonstrative pronouns, which had distinct forms for 3 genders ( m, sēo f, þæt n, and þēos f, þis n). They also distinguished 2 numbers and 5 cases.

The Article

Articles are pronominal words. That is why we consider them here together with pronouns.

In Old English the demonstrative pronoun sē (sēo, þæt) was often used in the function of the definite article (to single out a thing or group of things as definite), and the numeral an 'one' turned in some cases into an article-like indefinite pronoun. But the article was not yet established as a distinct part of speech: the use of the pronominal words in the function of an article was not yet quite regular, and, what is more, when so used, they showed no sensible formal distinctions from the notional words which were their source.

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