Archive for May, 2013

Just in case

May 5, 2013

A student starting to learn another language felt ves  lack of knowledge of grammatical terms was making it harder to learn the patterns.  Ve was also trying to write creatively (going mediaeval), while uncertain about when to say “John and me”, and when to say “John and I.”

For a person in (Piagetian) formal operations,  why not learn formal grammar?  But ve has a busy life, so I thought I’d start with a cheat-sheet for understanding the multiple verb-endings for languages where the verb agrees with the subject.    I didn’t find any I liked, so I made this – but I don’t quite like it either.  I am not entirely confident in my sources, so any suggested corrections will be considered

You are using Case even if you don’t know its name:  Table of forms

Subject(nominative case) object(objective)(accusative case) possessive determiner (genitive case)(It is ___ car) Object of verb of “giving” or Indirect Object(dative case) Possessive pronoun(genitive case)(It is ____) Nominative case, with abbreviated “to be”
who *whom whose whom whose who’s
I me my me mine I’m
thou thee thy thee thine thou’rt
he him his him his he’s
*it it its it it it’s
she her her her hers she’s
you you your you yours you’re
we our our us ours we’re
one one *one’s one one’s
they them their them theirs they’re
*ye you your you yourn ye’re (rare)-

* whom: except that in common speech people often use “who” – “I don’t know who he called.”

*it : people are uncomfortable with “it” for humans of unspecified gender, and may use his/her or use the third person plural instead.  Some want to invent a sentient neuter pronoun – e.g. ve. ver , ves for he/she, him/her, his/her.  Sweden has had calls to use “hen” for living neuter.

* one’s: “one” is an indefinite (generic) pronoun, does not have the personal pronoun apostrophe exemption

* ye: special patterns of use:  Old English second person plural nominative(you);  this later became second person singular to equal or superior – prerhaps because of the “Royal We”.

Technical terms you may find in grammar discussions of case – especially of non-English languages (e.g. Latin)

Term What it does
Case change to the form of a noun or pronoun which indicates its grammatical function while keeping its identity
Nominative Case  subject of a verb
Accusative Case  direct object of a verb
Dative Case  indirect object of a verb or  direct object of a verb of “giving to”
Genitive Case  possessive
Vocative Case Used in asking someone directly (Not used in English : “Paul, go over there, Anne, go there.”)
Ablative Case (in English, use prepositions  or adverbs describing variants on “away from
LocativeCase (in English, use prepositions in, on, at, by)
Subject “I” in “I bought a prize for the quiz.WARNING: Not always the “doing” person: “The dog” in “I was bitten by the dog” is the do-er :  “by” here tells us the sentence is twisted around, and that in the simple form “I” would be :”me” in “The dog bit me.”.
Direct Object “a prize”  in “I bought a prize for the quiz”
Indirect Object “the box”  in “I bought a prize for the quiz
Preposition indicates relationships between parts of a sentence (e.g. under, until, because of).  Mark place, time, and (rarely) causality.WARNING: this gets tricky : because is an adverb; because of is one preposition in two words
Person 1st person – speaker;  2nd person – listener  3rd person – them (not us )Many languages have different forms to show singular/plural, gender, and social relationships

and so, finally,  the third part of ver problem:

If it is given to to us, it is given to him and me: accusative case;  if we have won, he and I have won: nominative case.