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Pronouns traditionally form part of the noun group in Afrikaans, and are divided into different categories and subcategories (Jenkinson 1987:51). De Stadler (1989:411-412) identified a number of characteristics of the Afrikaans pronominal system, some of which are semantic and others pragmatic:

  1. The pronoun system is used in the first place for reference, with anaphoric pronouns in a prominent position.
  2. Different categories for person: first person (speaker), as in ek I; second person (addressee), as in jy you.SG or u you.HON; third person (non-participant), as in hy he, sy she, hulle they/them, etc.
  3. Number distinctions: typically plural, as in julle you.PL, versus singular, as in jy you.SG.
  4. Limited gender distinctions, only with third person singulars: male hy/hom he/him, female sy/haar she/her, and neutral (inanimate) dit it.
  5. Spatial orientation (including place and time deixis), particularly for possessive and demonstrative pronouns, as these forms function to place different referents in the situation, especially in terms of the speaker or addressee.
  6. Limited case distinctions, only with some singular pronouns: different forms for the subject and the object function, such as ek I vs. my me, jy you.SG.SUB vs. jou you.SG.OBJ, sy she vs. haar her, etc.
  7. Inclusivity: the plural first person ons we/us may or may not include the addressee.
  8. Possible distinctions between human and non-human referents.

Ponelis (1979:49) divides Afrikaans pronouns into the following categories:

  1. Not definite:
    1. Indefinite: iets something, iemand somebody, niks nothing, niemand nobody, baie many, genoeg enough, heelwat a lot, party some, 'n ding a thing, g'n ding no thing, goed stuff, etc.
    2. Interrogative: wie who, wat what, watter/watse which
  2. Definite
    1. Personal:
      1. 'Real' personal:
        1. Independent: ek/my I/me, jy/jou you.SG, sy/haar she/her, hy/hom he/him, dit it, ons we/us, julle you.PL, u you.HON, hulle they
        2. Attributive: my iets my something, jou iets your.SG something, haar iets her something, sy iets his something, ons iets our something, julle iets your.PL something, u iets your.HON something, hulle iets their something
      2. Independent possessive: myne mine, joune yours.SG, hare hers, syne his, ons s'n ours, julle s'n yours.PL, u s'n yours.HON, hulle s'n theirs
      3. Reciprocal: mekaar each other / one another
      4. Reflexive: my/myself myself, jou/jouself yourself.SG, julle/julleself yourself.PL, ons/onsself ourselves, haar/haarself herself, hulle/hulleself themselves, etc.
    2. Demonstrative: hierdie this/these, daardie that/those, dié this/these/that/those
    3. Relative: wat that/which, wie who

[+]General distinctions in the Afrikaans pronoun system

The Afrikaans pronoun system has a few person distinctions, and the number distinction between singular and plural, but gender and case distinctions are limited to certain singular pronouns. While the first person singular (example 1) has both a subject form ek I and object form my me, the first person plural (example 2) has only the form ons we/us that is used in both subject and object position. The same is true for the second person pronouns. The third person singular pronouns (example 3) have several distinctions: the gender distinction between male hy he and female sy she, and the case distinction between subject hy/sy he/she and object hom/haar him/her. Regarding the third person plural (example 4), there are no gender distinctions or case distinctions, hulle they/them are used in both subject and object positions.

a. Ek hou van varke.
I like of pigs
I like pigs.
b. Gee my meer inligting oor die projek.
give me more information over the project
Give me more information about the project.
a. Ons wil graag van jou hoor!
we want.to.AUX.MOD gladly from you.SG hear
We would like to hear from you!
b. Jy gee ons 'n slegte naam.
you.SG give us a bad name
You're giving us a bad name.
a. Sy is vanaand hier saam met ons.
she be.PRS tonight here together with us
She is here with us tonight.
b. En die eerste opdragte lê reeds vir haar en wag.
and the first assignments lie already for her and wait
And the first assignments are waiting for her already.
c. Hy is enig in sy soort.
he be.PRS one in his kind
He is one of a kind.
d. Praat met hom in sy eie taal!
talk with him in his own language
Talk to him in his own language!
a. Hulle ondersoek voorvalle en klagtes.
they investigate incidents and complaints
They investigate incidents and complaints.
b. U kan hulle skakel of aan hulle by die Vrystaat Wetgewer skryf.
you.HON can.AUX.MOD them phone or to them at the Free+State Legislature write
You can phone them or write to them at the Free State Legislature.

In Afrikaans, there is often no distinction in form between personal pronouns and attributive possessive pronouns, such as the second person singular jou you/your and plural julle you/your (example 5), or the third person singular female haar her (example 6). However, third person singular male pronouns take hom him as object form, but sy his as attributive possessive form (example 7).

a. Maak seker die lewensredders kan jou sien.
make sure the life.savers can.AUX.MOD you.SG see
Ensure that the lifeguards can see you.
b. Was jou hande dikwels met seep.
wash your.SG hands often with soap
Wash your hands with soap often.
a. Dis eenuur toe Frans haar weer styf teen hom vastrek.
it.is one.hour when Frans her again tightly against him tight.pull
It's one o'clock when Frans pulls her tightly against him again.
b. Vir die soveelste keer struikel Zoë oor haar eie voete.
for the umpteenth time stumble Zoë over her own feet
For the umpteenth time, Zoë stumbles over her own feet.
a. Leon kyk na hom, glimlag vir hom.
Leon look at him smile for him
Leon looks at him, smiles at him.
b. 'n Seuntjie bring sy ma se boeke in.
a boy.DIM bring his mom PTCL.GEN books in
A boy brings his mother's books in.

Different from Dutch and Frisian, Afrikaans does not have weak pronoun forms, only strong forms. The first person singular object form is always full my me, and never me as in Dutch for instance; or second person singular subject jy you.SG.SUB and not weak je.

The division taken from Ponelis (1979:49) is one way of dividing Afrikaans pronouns into categories, but the division followed here does not correspond to it exactly. More details about the different categories of pronouns can be found by following the corresponding links, following a different division of Afrikaans pronouns into categories:

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