1.2. Pronouns: definition.
The part~of~speech nature of pronouns (fr. Latin pronomen: pro – for, and nomen – name) causes much controversy among linguists since they share the properties of notional and structural (functional) parts of speech.
Traditionally Grammar describes a pronoun as a representative of a class of pro~words: he– instead of a man, one or ones – instead of repeating words used in the preceding part of a sentence etc.
The meaning of a pronoun as a separate part of speech is difficult to define as some pronouns share essential semantic peculiarities of nouns (she), while others have much more in common with adjectives. The pronoun as a part of speech points to things and properties without naming them.
Pronouns (according to V.V. Vinogradov and A.I. Smirnitsky) have a very general relative meaning that varies in accordance with the changing situation (I may indicate a woman, a child, and even an animal or a thing).
1.3. Structure and categorical characteristics
Pronouns fall under 1) simple (we) and compound (ourselves). Derived pronouns do not occur in English. Some linguists recognize the existence of phrasal pronouns (each other, one another).
It is impossible to speak of a pronominal system of inflections because pronouns constitute a heterogeneous group.
Pronouns lack the grammatical category of gender. personal, possessive, and reflexive pronouns express gender distinctions lexically (he – she, his – her, himself – herself).
The grammatical category of number is found in the demonstrative pronouns and the detaching pronoun other traditionally referred as the indefinite pronoun (this – these, other – others).
The question of distinguishing the category of number in personal and reflexive pronouns is a controversial one. On the one hand the pronoun we can be looked upon as the suppletive plural of I and they as the suppletive plural of he, she, or it. On the other hand we does not mean I + I, but rather I + you, or I + she, etc. The same is true of them which is not necessarily a sum of he + he, or she + she, or it + it.
Personal pronouns, as well as the interrogative and relative who, draw a distinction between the nominative and the objective cases. The indefinite pronouns everybody, everyone, somebody etc and one distinguish the genitive case just like nouns.
Therefore the catergorial features of pronouns at a systematic level are referent and indefinite.
1.4. Semantic and functional characteristics
Pronouns function both as notional and as auxiliary elements. When used as notional words, they perform the function of this or that part of the sentence. When employed as auxiliary elements, they express various grammatical meanings and can be looked upon as grammatical markers performing the following functions:
1) the purely grammatical function. Pronouns serve to preserve the syntactic status of the substituted word. For example the pronoun it occupying the position of the subject indicates the impersonal character of the sentence. In the position of the object this pronoun marks verbal characteristics (May I take it that you are not willing to do the job?).
Pronouns also occupy typical adjectival positions in the sentence (Your husband has come) thus allowing some linguists (H. Sweet) to distinguish between noun~pronouns (e.g. personal pronouns) and adjective~pronouns (possessive pronouns).
Personal pronouns can also serve to indicate the verbal categories of number and person. This function is realized through the form of the verb itself in inflectional languages (Придешь завтра? – Will you come tomorrow? Знаю об этом – I know about it).
Pronouns can also serve to express syntactic cohesion, correlation, qualitative and quantitative correlation.
2) the communicative function. Pronouns serve to arrange and modify the text by avoiding repetition (practically any sentence members can be substituted but for the verbal predicate) and helping to realize the actual division of the sentence. Pronouns also serve to realize the anticipatory, emphatic and specifying functions (It was there that we met; It was he who did it; he is a nice boy, that son of yours).
3) the nominative function. Pronouns help to substitute accurate data for less accurate, significant, and categorical (somewhat crazy, something strange). They also express the attitude of the speaker by attaching a strong degree of positive or negative meaning to the utterance (Such a nuisance, this visit! What a nice boy! What nonsense!). Pronouns in this function are prosodically brought out.
Semantically pronouns are subdivided into personal, possessive, reflexive, reciprocal, relative, demonstrative, universal, detaching, and indefinite.