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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

These constitute the true personal pronouns


In the form _his_ itself, the s has precisely the power that it has in _father's_, &c. Now _his_ cannot be said to arise out of _he_ + _his_.

3. In the Slavonic, Lithuanic, and classical tongues, the genitive ends in s, just as it does in English; so that even if the words _father his_ would account for the English word _father's_, it would not account for the Sanskrit genitive _pad-as_, of a foot; the Zend _dughdhar-s_, of a daughter; the Lithuanic _dugter-s_; the Greek [Greek: odont-os]; the Latin _dent-is_, &c.

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s. 219. _I_, _we_, _us_, _me_, _thou_, _ye_.--These constitute the true personal pronouns. From _he_, _she_, and _it_, they differ in being destitute of gender.

These latter words are demonstrative rather than personal, so that there are in English true personal pronouns for the first two persons only.

s. 220. The usual declension of the personal pronouns is exceptionable. _I_ and _me_, _thou_ and _ye_, stand in no etymological relations to each other. The true view of the words is, that they are not irregular but defective. _I_ has no _oblique_, and _me_ no nominative case. And so it is with the rest.

s. 221. _You_.--As

far as the practice of the present mode of speech is concerned, the word _you_ is a _nominative_ form; since we say _you move_, _you are moving_, _you were speaking_.

Why should it not be treated as such? There is no absolute reason why it should not. The Anglo-Saxon form for _you_ was _eow_, for _ye_, _ge_. Neither bears any sign of case at all, so that, form for form, they are equally and indifferently nominative and accusative. Hence, it, perhaps, is more logical to say that a certain form (_you_), is used _either_ as a nominative or accusative, than to say that the accusative case is used instead of a nominative. It is clear that _you_ can be used instead of _ye_ only so far as it is nominative in power.

_Ye_.--As far as the evidence of such expressions as _get on with ye_ is concerned, the word _ye_ is an accusative form. The reasons why it should or should not be treated as such are involved in the previous paragraph.

s. 222. _Me_.--carrying out the views just laid down, and admitting _you_ to be a nominative, or _quasi_-nominative case, we may extend the reasoning to the word _me_, and call it also a secondary or equivocal nominative; inasmuch as such phrases as _it is me_ = _it is I_ are common.

Now to call such expressions incorrect English is to assume the point. No one says that _c'est moi_ is bad French, and that _c'est je_ is good.

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