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Part I: Reference

Referential forms point to people or

objects in the real world or to other
forms called antecedents and
include the various types of
personal pronouns, the
demonstratives, and a number of
other referring forms.

Forms that Express
Personal Reference
(Personal Pronouns)
Subject and Object Pronouns

Subject Pronouns function as subject NPs
The object pronoun forms can function as
direct, indirect or prepositional objects
Both the subject and object pronouns can
function as subject and predicate nouns

A: Whos there?
B: It is I. (subj. pro.)
Its me. (obj. pro.)

* the subject pronoun is the historically older
and formally prescriptive form.
* the object pronoun is currently more
frequently used and is certainly favored in
informal speech.

Possessive Determiners and Pronouns
Two syntactic functions: a.) a possessive form can
serve as a possessive determiner before a noun, or
b.) it can replace an entire possessive NP.

This is Sheilas book. >> This is her book.
(possessive determiner)
This book is Sheilas. >> This book is hers.
(possessive pronoun)

depending on whether is precedes a noun or stands
alone as a ponoun, two slightly different forms exist in all
cases except the third person singular masculine form
(his), which does not change.

* the possessive determiners are core
determiners like the definite article and
the demonstratives and thus can be
preceded by a predeterminer and
followed by a post determiner:

pre core post noun head
all his other books

the possesive pronouns, however, replace an
entire noun phrase and can function as
subjects or objects:

A: Hal has an excellent word processing
B: Really? Mine has more options. (subject)
A: Do you like Joes new car?
B: I prefer yours. (object)

* the wh-question word routinely associated with
these referential possessive form is whose
used more frequently as a determiner but
ocassionally occurs as a pronoun:

Whose (umbrella) is this?

Reflexive Pronouns

Pronouns ending in self / -selves reflects back
When used in their underlying reflexive sense,
reflexive pronouns replace NP objects that have the
same referent as the subject of the sentence:

She (subject) cut herself (object).

He (subject) asked himself (object) the same
Reciprocal Pronouns
each, each other and one another
replace NP objects that typically refer back to NP
subjects in the same sentence. However, for these
forms the subject must be conjoined or plural:

Bob and Dick cant stand each other.

The five children in that family helped one
another throughout their lives.

Demonstrative Reference
Two dimensions: proximity and number

The demonstratives can also function as
pronouns as well as determiners, and can
represent an entire subject or object NP.

Please fill (this form / these forms) out.
determiner function
If the context makes the noun
form(s) clear, simply say:

Please fill (this / these) out.
(pronominal function)
* like the possessive determiners and the
definite article, the demonstrative
determiners are core determiners that can
occur with a predeterminer and a post

pre core post head noun
all these other issues

the wh-question word most closely associated
with demonstratives is which, it can readily serve
either a determiner function or a pronominal

Which (dress) did Margaret buy?

Sufficient context is required for the pronominal
use to be interpretable.

Which did Margaret buy?

Comparative Reference

The forms expressing referential identity same and self-
same are used mainly as determiners:

The young vagrant loitered on the corner.

The (same / self-same) young man had been
there the day before.


The referential forms expressing general
similarity such, so, and likewise have
different grammatical functions.
A: Did you like Professor Grogans lecture?
B1: No, such argumentation tends to bore me.
B2: No, such lectures bore me.
B3: No, such a lecture tends to bore me.

Such is a determiner. As shown by the
three different ways of continuing the
dialogue started by the speaker. A, it
can directly precede noncount nouns
(B1) and plural nouns (B2), but it is
unusual among determiners in that it
must be followed by a/an when it
modifies a singular count noun.

The referential form so, when used to express
general similarity, is quite parallel to this used

Our table is (so / this) long.

Do it like (so / this).

both this and so, when used as comparative
referential forms generally co-occur with some
sort of physical gesture or demonstration on the
part of the speaker.

Likewise is a referential adverb
expressing general similarity; it often
occurs with the pro-verb do, and
together, they refer to a previously
occuring verb phrase.

Mrs. Allison made a generous donation to
the Cancer Society. We were hoping you
would do likewise.


The referential forms of difference are
other including its related forms (the)
others and another and else. They tell
the listener/reader that one speaker/writer
is referring to some target item other than
the antecedent.

1. Have you had a cookie? Yes? Have another!

2. I needed some help, and I couldnt find
Ralph, so I looked for someone else.

In 1, another is used referentially to mean
another cookie, that is, something in addition to
but different from the antecedent (cookie). In 2,
else in combination with someone refers back to
Ralph but means a person other than or
different from Ralph.


The particular comparatives (more, less,
better, worse, etc) can be used like
pronouns or adverbs to refer to something
in prior discourse.

3. I finished my coffee. Amy offered me more.
4. A: How are you feeling?
B: Better.

In 3, the more means more coffee, in addition to
what the speaker had finished, and in 4, the
response better means Im feeling better than

Many of the comparative reference forms allow us to
say something more elliptically and concisely; thus,
we can avoid repetition.

Possessive Determiners and Pronouns
Two syntactic functions: a.) a possessive form can
serve as a possessive determiner before a noun, or
b.) it can replace an entire possessive NP.

This is Sheilas book. >> This is her book.
(possessive determiner)
This book is Sheilas. >> This book is hers.
(possessive pronoun)

*depending on whether is precedes a noun or stands
alone as a ponoun, two slightly different forms exist in all
cases except the third person singular masculine form
(his), which does not change.


In writing, the first is by inflecting regular singular
nouns and irregular plural nouns not ending in s with
s as in
the babys crib
the womens room

or by adding an apostrophe after the s ending of
regular plural nouns and singular forms that already
end in the sound s:
the boys crib
Kansas farmlands

The apostrophe added to regular plural nouns and
singular nouns ending in s does nothing to alter the
pronunciation of the word; however, the addition of
the s to singular and irregular plural nouns is
realized in speech as /s/ when it occurs after
voiceless consonants, /z/ when it follows voiced
consonants and vowels, and /z/ after sibilants.

Macs /mks/
Sams /smz/
Graces /greysz/


The other way of signaling possession is by using
the periphrastic of possessive form where the
possessor and thing possessed are inverted if one
compares this order with that of the inflected s form.

the mans name >> the name of the man

From the previous example, it might be inferred that
the s possessive and of possessive forms are
interchangeable. This is not usually the case. When
the nouns are relatively short, double possessive
inflections are possible:

Bobs brothers car

Double and even triple periphrastic
possessives are also possible, regardless
of whether the nouns involved are long or

the cover of the folio of the sonnets of Shakespeare

Syntactically, we treat a noun with the possessive s
as a determiner, but a possessive determiner would
always precede a possessive noun determiner (up to
three determiners are possible):

The periphrastic possessive with of is generated as
a noun phrase with a modifier prepositional phrase
following the head noun:

The Scope of
Referential Forms
The basic difference between the
reflexive and reciprocal pronouns and
all other personal pronouns is that the
antecedent for reflexive and reciprocal
pronouns must be in the same sentence
or clause:

John can take care of himself.

Bob and Dick cant stand each other.
For possessive pronouns, the
antecedent can be either within the
same clause / sentence or in an earlier

Greg loves his dog. (same clause)

Do you know Greg? I walk his dog.
(prior clause)
Subject and object pronouns, however;
typically refer to an antecedent in a preceding

Do you know Sara? She has just moved to

Q: Do you know Sara?
A: Yes, Ive been acquainted with her for ten
Some Oddities of
Subject and Object
Pronoun Use
Certain inanimate objects are
sometimes referred to with a feminine
pronoun form, although the use of it is
more common today. This has been true
for ships, countries, cars, and until
recently, hurricanes, which are now
given alternative masculine and
feminine names referred to as he or she
as appropriate.
Sexist or discriminatory issues:

When a person first arrives in a new country, he has
many adjustments to make.


When a person first arrives in a new country, he or she
ha many adjustments to make


When people first arrive in a new country, they have
many adjustments to make
In verbless or elliptical utterances, the object
pronoun sometimes replaces the subject form,
which would be expected in a complete sentence
or in a partially reduced sentence with a verb

Q: Who received the letter?
A1: I received the letter.
A2: I did.
A3: Me.
In full sentences with the copula be,
personal pronouns functioning as
subject noun predicates used to take
the subject form in formal English:

It is I.

That is she.
The usage mentioned in the previous
slide is now changing even in formal
English, and in informal English, the
object form of the pronoun is definitely

It is me.

Thats her.
The desire to use formal English and be
correct has led some native speakers to use I
even as a conjoined direct object or a conjoined
object of the preposition.

? This concerns only you and I.

? Between you and I, hes a fool.

? The article was written by Nancy and I.
Indefinite pronouns are not referential on and of
themselves, they often serve as antecedents for
referential forms or co-occur with referential forms
like else.

some any no every
-body somebody anybody nobody everybody
-one someone anyone no one everyone
-thing something anything nothing everything

* -body and one means person in general
* -thing refers to an inanimate object or abstract concept, or
an entity not clearly identifiable
Whenever one is used to mean a cardinal
number, an indefinite pronoun or
compound no longer results. In this case
there is a two-word sequence with the
number one receiving stress:

Anyone could have gotten in free.

Any one of us could have gotten in free.

The Use of Plural
Pronouns to Refer to
Singular Nouns
The use of a formally plural pronoun such as
they, them, or their to refer back to the following
singular compounds is acceptable in informal
usage, such as:

Everyone has his own way of doing things.

Everybody has their own way of doing things.
Nesbitt (1980:60): The everyone their
combination actually occurred far more than the
sexist his form and the wordy his or her form.
Presumably, the same preference will carry over
to the other indefinite pronouns and will result in
their acceptability in combination with plural

Somebody is driving without their lights on.
Has anybody brought a watch with them?
Nobody had a good game, did they?
Lagunoff (1992, 1997): indefinite pronouns to
include other antecedents as well. She documents
the use of singular they in written and spoken
English from the 15
century up to the present.
She proposes that an antecedent allowing co-
reference with singular they must be unspecified
in some way (i.e. number, gender, referentiality)

Someone left their sweatshirt here.
No one sends their children to public schools anymore.
Has anyone lost their pen?
Every (parent/mother/father) thinks their baby is