Module 5. Structural and functional grammar


Lesson 23


23.1  Introduction

A Pronoun is a word used instead of a noun; as,

The principal is absent, because he is ill.

Our writing would be dull if we repeated nouns. Consequently, we use a pronoun (‘pro’ meaning ‘for’) instead of repeating a noun.

23.2  Number, Person and Gender

Possessive, relative and demonstrative pronouns must be of same number, person and gender as the nouns e. g.

One should not waste his energy over trifles. (Wrong)

One should not waste one’s energy over trifles. (Right)

      a)    The pronoun is singular when two singular nouns joined by and are preceded by each or every.

            Every day and every night brings its own duty. (Right)

      b)    The pronoun is singular when two or more singular nouns are joined by or, either or, or neither nor. Thus:

            The manager or the assistant should put his time in investigating the details.

            Either Ram or Jagmohan forgot to take his pen.

            Neither Sita nor Rekha did her job sincerely.

      c)     When a plural noun and a singular noun are joined by or or nor, the pronoun agrees with the noun nearest to it.

        Either the manager or the assistants failed in their duty.

        Either the assistants or the manager failed in his duty.

        Neither he nor they have done their duty.

23.3  Reflexive Pronoun

When such verbs as avail, absent, acquit, enjoy are used reflexively, never omit the reflexive pronoun:

    I shall avail of your kind advice. (Wrong)

    I shall avail myself of your kind advice. (Correct)

    He absented from college. (Wrong)

              He absented himself from college. (Right)

23.4  Relative Pronoun

           a)    After such, use the relative pronoun as and not who or which e. g.

                       His performance was such as I had expected him to give.

           b) A relative pronoun should agree with its antecedent in person and number, e. g. ;

            This is one of the most interesting stories that has appeared this year. (Wrong).

            This is one of the most interesting stories that have appeared this year.(Correct)

            This is the only one of his books that are worth reading. (Wrong).

            This is the only one of his books that is worth reading. (Correct)

           (Change are to is, for here the antecedent of that is one).

           c)     A relative pronoun or relative adverb should be placed as close to its antecedent as possible e. g.

            I have read Plato’s writings, who was a disciple of Socrates. (Wrong)

            I have read the writings of Plato who was a disciple of Socrates. (Correct)

           d)       Each other should be used in speaking of two persons or things, ‘one  another’ in speaking of more than two:

              When we two friends parted, they wished luck to each other.

              We should respect one another.

           e)     Either should be used in reference to two. When the reference is to more than two, we should use any one:

            Either of these two medicines will do you good.

            She is more beautiful than any of her four friends. (not either)

           f)      Which when used as a relative pronoun, must relate to some noun or pronoun, i.e. its antecedent previously mentioned. Using which without an antecedent is wrong:

             He won the gold medal in race, which pleased his parents. (Wrong)

             His winning of the gold medal in race in race pleased his parents. (Right)

No one objected to his suggestion, which was disappointing. (Wrong: Because the sentence fails to clarify what was disappointing, the suggestion, or the fact that no one objected).

23.5  Case Forms of Pronouns: ‘He/Him’ , ‘They/Them’

      a)    A pronoun following any part of the verb be (am, is, are, was, were, been, be) and referring to the subject is in the nominative case:

            The managers of the firm are Rahul, Vikas and I.

            It was she who fell ill last night.

            Do you think it could have been she who acted in film?

      b)    The object of a verb or a preposition is in the objective case:

            Me, you, her, it, him, us, them

      c)     Both members of a compound subject must be in the same case:

            The doctor sent Geeta and me to hospital.

            (Geeta and me are objects of the verb sent)

            Between Anil and him there has always been a good rapport.

            (Anil and him are objects of the preposition between)

      d)    In case of an elliptical clause beginning with than or as, if you supply the missing word or words, you should have little trouble deciding the correct case of the pronoun.

            My friend is taller than I. (I am)

            Mr. Verma is as good a person as she. (She is)

            Nobody loves you more than he. (than he does)

      e)     The subject of an infinitive is in the objective case. The infinitive is a verb that usually has to in front of it:

            She asked me to wait for her.

            The boss asked me to go to the head office.

      f)      The object of an infinitive, Gerund or participle is in the objective case:

                       The teacher wants to see us. (us is the object of infinitive to see)

            Finding you here is a pleasant surprise. (You is the object of the gerund finding)

            Having seen him instantly, I ran for safety. (him is the object of the participle having seen).

      g)    The possessive case of a noun or pronoun should be used before a gerund:

            I do not approve of his playing the prank. (Playing is the gerund. It is the object of the preposition of)

            Her cooking could be improved. (Cooking is the gerund)

23.6   Who/Whom, Whom/Whomever

      a)    The following sentences illustrate proper use of who and whoever nominative forms serving as subjects of the verbs in the dependent classes:

            I demand the opportunity for whoever wishes it.

            (‘whoever’ is the subject of the verb ‘wishes’; the whole clause is the object of the preposition ‘for’).

            The question of who can seize the opportunity must be answered.

            (who is the subject of can seize; the whole clause is the object of the preposition of).

      b)    The following sentences illustrate proper use of whom and whomever, objective forms serving as objects in the dependent clause.

            This is the boy whom I met in the wedding. (direct object of met).

            Bring whomever you like. (direct object of ‘like’; dependent clause of bring).