General Question

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Does English have subject pronouns?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7887points) October 8th, 2010

Like French does? For example, take the word porte.
If you were saying “I wear” it would be “Je porte”
If you were saying “You (informal) wear” it would be “Tu portes”
If you were saying “You (formal) wear” it would be “Vous portez”
If you were saying “They (feminine) wear” it would be “Elles portent”
And so on.
Does the English language have that, where there are different endings to the word for whatever gender or formality you’re talking about?

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9 Answers

the100thmonkey's avatar

Yes, English has subject pronouns:

I
You
He
She
It
We
They
One

However, English is not a strongly inflected language in that the verb does not conjugate very much. Other languages, like Japanese do not inflect for gender/number at all.

meiosis's avatar

I am
You are
He/She/It Is

I was
You were
He/She/It was

the100thmonkey's avatar

@meiosis – “be” and other very high frequency Anglo-Saxon (almost exclusively irregular) verbs are exceptions rather than the rule – the majority of English verbs barely conjugate at all:

I conjugate verbs.
You conjugate verbs.
He/She/It conjugates verbs.

We conjugate verbs.
You conjugate verbs.
They conjugate verbs.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, and @the100thmonkey is correct that our verbs don’t typically let you know who is talking or who you are talking about, this is one part of our language that is actually easier than many other languages. @meiosis example using the conjugations of the infinitive to be is more like an exception in English, not what is common. So, in English it is very necessary to identify who you are talking aboutnwith a name or pronoun or the sentence is very unclear, where in Spanish not as necessary, and I assume French is the same.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@JLeslie – actually, French isn’t pro-drop, as far as I know. I was really surprised to find out that Spanish was!

Japanese is an interesting case – it takes ellipsis of subject and object to the extreme that often only the verb is deployed, particularly if the referents are believed to be understood by context. The really interesting part is that Japanese only inflects for time and register, not number or gender.

It’s very confusing at first, but it becomes second nature to guess what’s being referred to after a while.

JLeslie's avatar

@the100thmonkey Interesting. I know very little French, never studied it. But, in French if you drop the pronoun is it still fairly obvious who you are talking about, even if it is grammatically wrong? Do most verbs indicate who you are referring to when conjugated?

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

French is making me want to kill myself right now

the100thmonkey's avatar

It’s a lot clearer in the written language – porter (conjugated above) is a regular ’-er’ verb.

However, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular, along with the 3rd person plural all sound the same – this is extremely common in French.

Even though the conjugations of irregular verbs like avoir look different, I’d say that maybe half the verb forms sound the same.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess French really isn’t that bad, I promise. The verbs (especially irregular) just require memorization. The sentence structure is similar to English so it’s fairly easy as far as foreign languages go. I’ve been taking French for almost 15 years, if you need help feel free to PM me.

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