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Personal pronouns

According to Ponelis (1979:55), personal pronouns refer to referents in a specific way that distinguish them from lexical nouns: personal pronoun reference can be either deictic or anaphoric. The most important grammatical characteristics according to which Afrikaans personal pronouns are organised are person, number, and gender(Ponelis 1979:56).

There are three person distinctions: first person (ek/my I/me and ons we/us), second person (jy/jou you.SG, julle you.PL, and u you.HON), and third person (sy/haar she/her, hy/hom he/hom, dit it, and hulle they/them). The first and second person pronouns have deictic reference, while third person pronouns refer anaphorically (Jenkinson 1987:55; Ponelis 1979:56). Regarding number, there is a distinction between singular and plural, and with singular third person pronouns there is a gender distinction between male, female and neuter. Finally, there are also impersonal pronouns, with indefinite reference. Some of the personal pronouns, such as hulle, are used in this function, and there are other dedicated imperson pronouns such as ('n) mens (a) human.

There are a few remnants left of the Germanic case inflection, such as the distinction between subject and object forms for certain singular personal pronouns (such as ek I and my me), and a distinction between the object form and possessive form of third person singular male pronouns (hom him and sy his. The plural personal pronouns all have only one form for both subject and object uses, as well as possessive pronouns.


More information about the different categories of personal pronouns, divided according to person distinctions, can be found by following the corresponding links:

  • Jenkinson, A.G1987Aspekte van voornaamwoorde en verwysing in taalhandelinge.Bundels
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
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