Explanation of Pronouns

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247. The preceding chapter has dealt with the two grammatical forms under which a noun, by acquiring a verbal or predicative character, is developed into a kind of subordinate clause. We have now to consider the subordinate clause properly so called; that is to say, the clause which contains a true (finite) verb, but stands to another clause in the relation of a dependent word. E.g. in the sentence

λεύσσετε γὰρ τό γε πάντες ὅ μοι γέρας ἔρχεται ἄλλῃ
you see that my prize goes elsewhere

the clause ὅ μοι γέρας ἔρχεται ἄλλῃ stands in the relation of object to the verb of the principal clause.

As the grammatical structure of subordinate clauses is shown in general by means of pronouns, or conjunctions formed from pronominal stems, it will be proper to begin with an account of the meaning and use of the different words of this class.

The Greek grammarians divided the pronouns (ἀντωνυμίαι) into δεικτικαί "pointing," and ἀναφορικαί "referring" or "repeating." These words have given us, through the Roman grammarians, the modern terms demonstrative and relative; but the meaning, as often happens in such cases, has undergone a considerable change. A deictic pronoun—it will be convenient to adopt the Greek words—is one that marks an object by its position in respect to the speaker: I, you, this (here), yonder, etc. An anaphoric pronoun is one that denotes an object already mentioned or otherwise known—the term thus including many demonstratives (that same man, the man, etc.), as well as the relative. In all, therefore, we may distinguish three kinds of pronouns

  1. DEICTIC, in the original sense.
  2. ANAPHORIC, i.e. referring to a noun, but demonstrative (in the modern sense).
  3. RELATIVE, in the modern sense.

This however, it should be observed, is a classification of the uses of pronouns, not of the words or stems themselves; for the same pronoun may be deictic or anaphoric, demonstrative or relative, according to the context. It is probable, indeed, that all pronouns are originally deictic, and become anaphoric in the course of usage.

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7. https://dcc.dickinson.edu/index.php/grammar/monro/explanation-pronouns