MODEL FOR PARSING.
"What is bolder than a miller's neckcloth, which takes a thief by the
throat every morning?"
_Miller's_ is a name applied to every individual of its class, hence
it is a common noun; it is the name of a male being, hence it is a
gender noun, masculine; it denotes only one person, therefore
singular number; it expresses possession or ownership, and limits
_neckcloth_, therefore possessive case.
_Neckcloth_, like _miller's_, is a common class noun; it has no sex,
therefore neuter; names one thing, therefore singular number; subject
of the verb _is_ understood, and therefore nominative case.
_Thief_ is a common class noun; the connection shows a male is meant,
therefore masculine gender; singular number; object of the verb
_takes_, hence objective case.
_Throat_ is neuter, of the same class and number as the word
_neckcloth_; it is the object of the preposition _by_, hence it is
NOTE. - The preposition sometimes takes the possessive case (see Sec.
_Morning_ is like _throat_ and _neckcloth_ as to class, gender, and
number; as to case, it expresses time, has no governing word, but is
the adverbial objective.
Follow the model above in parsing all the nouns in the following
1. To raise a monument to departed worth is to perpetuate virtue.
2. The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and
to have it found out by accident.
3. An old cloak makes a new jerkin; a withered serving man, a fresh
4. That in the captain's but a choleric word,
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
5. Now, blessings light on him that first invented ... sleep!
6. Necker, financial minister to Louis XVI., and his daughter, Madame
de StaÃ«l, were natives of Geneva.
7. He giveth his beloved sleep.
8. Time makes the worst enemies friends.
9. A few miles from this point, where the Rhone enters the lake,
stands the famous Castle of Chillon, connected with the shore by a
drawbridge, - palace, castle, and prison, all in one.
10. Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth,
And hated her for her pride.
11. Mrs. Jarley's back being towards him, the military gentleman shook
[Sidenote: _The need of pronouns._]
72. When we wish to speak of a name several times in succession, it
is clumsy and tiresome to repeat the noun. For instance, instead of
saying, "_The pupil_ will succeed in _the pupil's_ efforts if _the
pupil_ is ambitious," we improve the sentence by shortening it thus,
"The pupil will succeed in _his_ efforts if _he_ is ambitious."
Again, if we wish to know about the ownership of a house, we evidently
cannot state the owner's name, but by a question we say, "_Whose_
house is that?" thus placing a word instead of the name till we learn
This is not to be understood as implying that pronouns were _invented_
because nouns were tiresome, since history shows that pronouns are as
old as nouns and verbs. The use of pronouns must have sprung up
naturally, from a necessity for short, definite, and representative
A pronoun is a reference word, standing for a name, or for a person
or thing, or for a group of persons or things.
[Sidenote: _Classes of pronouns._]
73. Pronouns may be grouped in five classes: -
(1) Personal pronouns, which distinguish person by their form (Sec.
(2) Interrogative pronouns, which are used to ask questions about
persons or things.
(3) Relative pronouns, which relate or refer to a noun, pronoun, or
other word or expression, and at the same time connect two statements
They are also called conjunctive.
(4) Adjective pronouns, words, primarily adjectives, which are
classed as adjectives when they modify nouns, but as pronouns when
they stand for nouns.
(5) Indefinite pronouns, which cannot be used as adjectives, but
stand for an indefinite number of persons or things.
Numerous examples of all these will be given under the separate
classes hereafter treated.
[Sidenote: _Person in grammar._]
74. Since pronouns stand for persons as well as names, they must
represent the person talking, the person or thing spoken to, and the
person or thing talked about.
This gives rise to a new term, "the distinction of _person_."
[Sidenote: Person _of nouns_.]
75. This distinction was not needed in discussing nouns, as nouns
have the _same form_, whether representing persons and things spoken
to or spoken of. It is evident that a noun could not represent the
person speaking, even if it had a special form.
From analogy to pronouns, which have _forms_ for person, nouns are
sometimes spoken of as first or second person by their _use_; that is,
if they are in apposition with a pronoun of the first or second
person, they are said to have person by agreement.
But usually nouns represent something spoken of.
[Sidenote: _Three persons of pronouns._]
76. Pronouns naturally are of three persons: -
(1) First person, representing the person speaking.
(2) Second person, representing a person or thing spoken to.
(3) Third person, standing for a person or thing spoken of.
FORMS OF PERSONAL PRONOUNS.
77. Personal pronouns are inflected thus: -
_Poss._ mine, my
_Poss._ our, ours
_Old Form_ _Common Form._
_Nom._ thou you
_Poss._ thine, thy your, yours
_Obj._ thee you
_Nom._ ye you
_Poss._ your, yours your, yours
_Obj._ you you
_Masc._ _Fem._ _Neut._.
_Nom._ he she it
_Poss._ his her, hers its
_Obj._ him her it
_Plur. of all Three_.
_Poss._ their, theirs
Remarks on These Forms.
[Sidenote: _First and second persons without gender._]
78. It will be noticed that the pronouns of the first and second
persons have no forms to distinguish gender. The speaker may be either
male or female, or, by personification, neuter; so also with the
person or thing spoken to.
[Sidenote: _Third person_ singular _has gender_.]
But the third person has, in the singular, a separate form for each
gender, and also for the neuter.
[Sidenote: _Old forms_.]
In Old English these three were formed from the same root; namely,
masculine _hÄ“_, feminine _hÄ“o_, neuter _hit_.
The form _hit_ (for _it_) is still heard in vulgar English, and _hoo_
(for _hÄ“o_) in some dialects of England.
The plurals were _hÄ«_, _heora_, _heom_, in Old English; the forms
_they_, _their_, _them_, perhaps being from the English demonstrative,
though influenced by the cognate Norse forms.
[Sidenote: _Second person always plural in ordinary English._]
79. _Thou_, _thee_, etc., are old forms which are now out of use in
ordinary speech. The consequence is, that we have no singular pronoun
of the second person in ordinary speech or prose, but make the plural
_you_ do duty for the singular. We use it with a plural verb always,
even when referring to a single object.
[Sidenote: _Two uses of the old singulars._]
80. There are, however, two modern uses of _thou, thy_, etc.: -
(1) _In elevated style_, especially in poetry; as, -
With _thy_ clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be;
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near _thee_;
_Thou_ lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety. - SHELLEY.
(2) _In addressing the Deity_, as in prayers, etc.; for example, -
Oh, _thou_ Shepherd of Israel, that didst comfort _thy_ people of
old, to _thy_ care we commit the helpless. - BEECHER.
[Sidenote: _The form_ its.]
81. It is worth while to consider the possessive _its_. This is of
comparatively recent growth. The old form was _his_ (from the
nominative _hit_), and this continued in use till the sixteenth
century. The transition from the old _his_ to the modern _its_ is
shown in these sentences: -
1 He anointed the altar and all _his_ vessels. - _Bible_
Here _his_ refers to _altar_, which is a neuter noun. The quotation
represents the usage of the early sixteenth century.
2 It's had _it_ head bit off by _it_ young - SHAKESPEARE
Shakespeare uses _his_, _it_, and sometimes _its_, as possessive of
In Milton's poetry (seventeenth century) _its_ occurs only three
3 See heaven _its_ sparkling portals wide display - POPE
[Sidenote: _A relic of the olden time._]
82. We have an interesting relic in such sentences as this from
Thackeray: "One of the ways to know '_em_ is to watch the scared looks
of the ogres' wives and children."
As shown above, the Old English objective was _hem_ (or _heom_), which
was often sounded with the _h_ silent, just as we now say, "I saw
'_im_ yesterday" when the word _him_ is not emphatic. In spoken
English, this form '_em_ has survived side by side with the literary
[Sidenote: _Use of the pronouns in personification._]
83. The pronouns _he_ and _she_ are often used in poetry, and
sometimes in ordinary speech, to personify objects (Sec. 34).
CASES OF PERSONAL PRONOUNS.
I The Nominative.
[Sidenote: _Nominative forms._]
84. The nominative forms of personal pronouns have the same uses as
the nominative of nouns (see Sec. 58). The case of most of these
pronouns can be determined more easily than the case of nouns, for,
besides a nominative _use_, they have a nominative form. The words
_I_, _thou_, _he_, _she_, _we_, _ye_, _they_, are very rarely anything
but nominative in literary English, though _ye_ is occasionally used
[Sidenote: _Additional nominatives in spoken English._]
85. In spoken English, however, there are some others that are added
to the list of nominatives: they are, _me_, _him_, _her_, _us_,
_them_, when they occur in the _predicate position_. That is, in such
a sentence as, "I am sure it was _him_," the literary language would
require _he_ after _was_; but colloquial English regularly uses as
predicate nominatives the forms _me_, _him_, _her_, _us_, _them_,
though those named in Sec. 84 are always subjects. Yet careful
speakers avoid this, and follow the usage of literary English.
II. The Possessive.
[Sidenote: _Not a separate class._]
86. The forms _my_, _thy_, _his_, _her_, _its_, _our_, _your_,
_their_, are sometimes grouped separately as POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS, but
it is better to speak of them as the possessive case of personal
pronouns, just as we speak of the possessive case of nouns, and not
make more classes.
[Sidenote: Absolute _personal pronouns._]
The forms _mine_, _thine_, _yours_, _hers_, _theirs_, sometimes _his_
and _its_, have a peculiar use, standing apart from the words they
modify instead of immediately before them. From this use they are
called ABSOLUTE PERSONAL PRONOUNS, or, some say, ABSOLUTE POSSESSIVES.
As instances of the use of absolute pronouns, note the following: -
'Twas _mine_, 'tis _his_, and has been slave to thousands.
And since thou own'st that praise, I spare thee _mine_. - COWPER.
My arm better than _theirs_ can ward it off. - LANDOR.
_Thine_ are the city and the people of Granada. - BULWER.
[Sidenote: _Old use of_ mine _and_ thine.]
Formerly _mine_ and _thine_ stood before their nouns, if the nouns
began with a vowel or _h_ silent; thus, -
Shall I not take _mine_ ease in _mine_ inn? - SHAKESPEARE.
Give every man _thine_ ear, but few thy voice. - _Id._
If _thine_ eye offend thee, pluck it out. - _Bible._
My greatest apprehension was for _mine_ eyes. - SWIFT.
This usage is still preserved in poetry.
[Sidenote: _Double and triple possessives._]
87. The forms _hers_, _ours_, _yours_, _theirs_, are really double
possessives, since they add the possessive _s_ to what is already a
regular possessive inflection.
Besides this, we have, as in nouns, a possessive phrase made up of the
preposition _of_ with these double possessives, _hers_, _ours_,
_yours_, _theirs_, and with _mine_, _thine_, _his_, sometimes _its_.
[Sidenote: _Their uses._]
Like the noun possessives, they have several uses: -
(1) _To prevent ambiguity_, as in the following: -
I have often contrasted the habitual qualities of that gloomy
friend _of theirs_ with the astounding spirits of Thackeray and
Dickens. - J.T. FIELDS.
No words _of ours_ can describe the fury of the conflict. - J.F.
(2) _To bring emphasis_, as in these sentences: -
This thing _of yours_ that you call a Pardon of Sins, it is a bit
of rag-paper with ink. - CARLYLE.
This ancient silver bowl _of mine_, it tells of good old times.
(3) _To express contempt, anger, or satire_; for example, -
"Do you know the charges that unhappy sister _of mine_ and her
family have put me to already?" says the Master. - THACKERAY.
He [John Knox] had his pipe of Bordeaux too, we find, in that old
Edinburgh house _of his_. - CARLYLE.
"Hold thy peace, Long Allen," said Henry Woodstall, "I tell thee
that tongue _of thine_ is not the shortest limb about
_thee_." - SCOTT.
(4) _To make a noun less limited in application_; thus, -
A favorite liar and servant _of mine_ was a man I once had to
drive a brougham. - THACKERAY.
In New York I read a newspaper criticism one day, commenting upon
a letter _of mine_. - _Id._
What would the last two sentences mean if the word _my_ were written
instead of _of mine_, and preceded the nouns?
[Sidenote: _About the case of absolute pronouns._]
88. In their function, or use in a sentence, the absolute possessive
forms of the personal pronouns are very much like adjectives used as
In such sentences as, "_The good_ alone are great," "None but _the
brave_ deserves _the fair_," the words italicized have an adjective
force and also a noun force, as shown in Sec. 20.
So in the sentences illustrating absolute pronouns in Sec. 86: _mine_
stands for _my property_, _his_ for _his property_, in the first
sentence; _mine_ stands for _my praise_ in the second. But the first
two have a nominative use, and _mine_ in the second has an objective
They may be spoken of as possessive in form, but nominative or
objective in use, according as the modified word is in the nominative
or the objective.
III. The Objective.
[Sidenote: _The old_ dative _case._]
89. In Old English there was one case which survives in use, but not
in form. In such a sentence as this one from Thackeray, "Pick _me_ out
a whip-cord thong with some dainty knots in it," the word _me_ is
evidently not the direct object of the verb, but expresses _for whom_,
_for whose benefit_, the thing is done. In pronouns, this dative
use, as it is called, was marked by a separate case.
[Sidenote: _Now the objective._]
In Modern English the same _use_ is frequently seen, but the _form_ is
the same as the objective. For this reason a word thus used is called
The following are examples of the dative-objective: -
Give _me_ neither poverty nor riches. - _Bible._
Curse _me_ this people. - _Id._
Both joined in making _him_ a present. - MACAULAY
Is it not enough that you have _burnt me_ down three houses with
your dog's tricks, and be hanged to you! - LAMB
I give _thee_ this to wear at the collar. - SCOTT
[Sidenote: _Other uses of the objective._]
90. Besides this use of the objective, there are others: -
(1) _As the direct object of a verb._
They all handled _it_. - LAMB
(2) _As the object of a preposition._
Time is behind _them_ and before _them_. - CARLYLE.
(3) _In apposition._
She sate all last summer by the bedside of the blind beggar,
_him_ that so often and so gladly I talked with. - DE QUINCEY.
SPECIAL USES OF PERSONAL PRONOUNS.
[Sidenote: _Indefinite use of_ you _and_ your.]
91. The word _you_, and its possessive case _yours_ are sometimes
used without reference to a particular person spoken to. They approach
the indefinite pronoun in use.
_Your_ mere puny stripling, that winced at the least flourish of
the rod, was passed by with indulgence. - IRVING
To empty here, _you_ must condense there. - EMERSON.
The peasants take off their hats as _you_ pass; _you_ sneeze, and
they cry, "God bless you!" The thrifty housewife shows _you_ into
her best chamber. _You_ have oaten cakes baked some months
before. - LONGFELLOW
[Sidenote: _Uses of_ it.]
92. The pronoun _it_ has a number of uses: -
(1) _To refer to some single word preceding_; as, -
Ferdinand ordered the _army_ to recommence _its_ march. - BULWER.
_Society_, in this century, has not made _its_ progress, like
Chinese skill, by a greater acuteness of ingenuity in
trifles. - D. WEBSTER.
(2) _To refer to a preceding word group_; thus, -
If any man should do wrong merely out of ill nature, why, yet
_it_ is but like the thorn or brier, which prick and scratch
because they can do no other. - BACON.
Here _it_ refers back to the whole sentence before it, or to the idea,
"any man's doing wrong merely out of ill nature."
(3) _As a grammatical subject, to stand for the real, logical
subject, which follows the verb_; as in the sentences, -
_It_ is easy in the world _to live after the world's opinion_.
_It_ is this _haziness_ of intellectual vision which is the
malady of all classes of men by nature. - NEWMAN.
_It_ is a pity _that he has so much learning, or that he has not
a great deal more_. - ADDISON.
(4) _As an impersonal subject in certain expressions which need no
other subject_; as, -
_It_ is finger-cold, and prudent farmers get in their barreled
apples. - THOREAU.
And when I awoke, _it_ rained. - COLERIDGE.
For when _it_ dawned, they dropped their arms. - _Id._
_It_ was late and after midnight. - DE QUINCEY.
(5) _As an impersonal or indefinite object of a verb or a
preposition_; as in the following sentences: -
(_a_) Michael Paw, who _lorded it_ over the fair regions of
ancient Pavonia. - IRVING.
I made up my mind _to foot it_. - HAWTHORNE.
A sturdy lad ... who in turn tries all the professions, who
_teams it, farms it, peddles it_, keeps a school. - EMERSON.
(_b_) "Thy mistress leads thee a dog's life _of it_." - IRVING.
There was nothing _for it_ but to return. - SCOTT.
An editor has only to say "respectfully declined," and there is
an end _of it_. - HOLMES.
Poor Christian was hard put _to it_. - BUNYAN.
[Sidenote: _Reflexive use of the personal pronouns._]
93. The personal pronouns in the objective case are often used
_reflexively_; that is, referring to the same person as the subject of
the accompanying verb. For example, we use such expressions as, "I
found _me_ a good book," "He bought _him_ a horse," etc. This
reflexive use of the _dative_-objective is very common in spoken and
in literary English.
The personal pronouns are not often used reflexively, however, when
they are _direct_ objects. This occurs in poetry, but seldom in prose;
Now I lay _me_ down to sleep. - ANON.
I set _me_ down and sigh. - BURNS.
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid _them_ down
In their last sleep. - BRYANT.
REFLEXIVE OR COMPOUND PERSONAL PRONOUNS.
[Sidenote: _Composed of the personal pronouns with_ -self, -selves.]
94. The REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS, or COMPOUND PERSONAL, as they are also
called, are formed from the personal pronouns by adding the word
_self_, and its plural _selves_.
They are _myself_, (_ourself_), _ourselves_, _yourself_, (_thyself_),
_yourselves_, _himself_, _herself_, _itself_, _themselves_.
Of the two forms in parentheses, the second is the old form of the
second person, used in poetry.
_Ourself_ is used to follow the word _we_ when this represents a
single person, especially in the speech of rulers; as, -
Methinks he seems no better than a girl;
As girls were once, as we _ourself_ have been. - TENNYSON.
[Sidenote: _Origin of these reflexives._]
95. The question might arise, Why are _himself_ and _themselves_ not
_hisself_ and _theirselves_, as in vulgar English, after the analogy
of _myself_, _ourselves_, etc.?
The history of these words shows they are made up of the
dative-objective forms, not the possessive forms, with _self_. In
Middle English the forms _meself_, _theself_, were changed into the
possessive _myself_, _thyself_, and the others were formed by analogy
with these. _Himself_ and _themselves_ are the only ones retaining a
distinct objective form.
In the forms _yourself_ and _yourselves_ we have the possessive _your_
marked as singular as well as plural.
[Sidenote: _Use of the reflexives._]
96. There are three uses of reflexive pronouns: -
(1) _As object of a verb or preposition, and referring to the same
person or thing as the subject_; as in these sentences from Emerson: -
He who offers _himself_ a candidate for that covenant comes up
like an Olympian.
I should hate _myself_ if then I made my other friends my asylum.
We fill _ourselves_ with ancient learning.
What do we know of nature or of _ourselves_?
(2) _To emphasize a noun or pronoun_; for example, -
The great globe _itself_ ... shall dissolve. - SHAKESPEARE.
Threats to all;
To _you yourself_, to us, to every one. - _Id._
Who would not sing for Lycidas! he knew
_Himself_ to sing, and build the lofty rhyme. - MILTON.
NOTE. - In such sentences the pronoun is sometimes omitted, and the
reflexive modifies the pronoun understood; for example, -
Only _itself_ can inspire whom it will. - EMERSON.
My hands are full of blossoms plucked before, Held dead within
them till _myself_ shall die. - E.B. BROWNING.
As if it were _thyself_ that's here, I shrink with
pain. - WORDSWORTH.
(3) _As the precise equivalent of a personal pronoun_; as, -
Lord Altamont designed to take his son and _myself_. - DE QUINCEY.
Victories that neither _myself_ nor my cause always deserved. - B.
For what else have our forefathers and _ourselves_ been
taxed? - LANDOR.
Years ago, Arcturus and _myself_ met a gentleman from China who
knew the language. - THACKERAY.
Exercises on Personal Pronouns.
(_a_) Bring up sentences containing ten personal pronouns, some each
of masculine, feminine, and neuter.
(_b_) Bring up sentences containing five personal pronouns in the
possessive, some of them being double possessives.
(_c_) Tell which use each _it_ has in the following sentences: -
1. Come and trip it as we go,
On the light fantastic toe.
2. Infancy conforms to nobody; all conform to it.
3. It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.
4. Courage, father, fight it out.
5. And it grew wondrous cold.
6. To know what is best to do, and how to do it, is wisdom.
7. If any phenomenon remains brute and dark, it is because the
corresponding faculty in the observer is not yet active.
8. But if a man do not speak from within the veil, where the word is
one with that it tells of, let him lowly confess it.
9. It behooved him to keep on good terms with his pupils.
10. Biscuit is about the best thing I know; but it is the soonest
spoiled; and one would like to hear counsel on one point, why it is
that a touch of water utterly ruins it.
[Sidenote: _Three now in use._]
97. The interrogative pronouns now in use are _who_ (with the forms
_whose_ and _whom_), _which_, and _what_.