A Conversation for Declining English

A563456 - Declining English

Post 1

Arpeggio - Keeper, Muse, Against Sequiturs, à propos of nothing in particular


Finally, the *real* reason why people have trouble remembering whether to use 'it's' or 'its', the truth about 'your' and 'you're': the problem has been blamed on the two uses of the apostrophe, but the truth is, pronouns are still inflected in English.

Tables of pronoun declensions included. Examples provided. Explanation of declensions in unscary language offered. This article should eliminate the need for further beating of the mostly dead horse that is the Apostrophe Issue.

Arpeggio, jumping into the fray!

A563456 - Declining English

Post 2


This is an exceptional article, well done.

As one pedant to another, however, I feel obliged to mention that, in your declention of pronouns, you neglected the familiar second person plural 'ye,' which, admitedly is no great loss but should be included for completeness. After all, if we loose that pronoun, we loose the chance to battle over the question of whether 'Ye Olde Inne' was a definite singular old inn or if it was a familiar old in for everyone.

This article is definitely not a smiley - dog!
It should be recommended for the guide soon.


A563456 - Declining English

Post 3


I am happy to correct myself before someone else does.

It seems that 'ye' was apparently only appropriate in the plural subjective case.


A563456 - Declining English

Post 4


I thought you said your style was dry?

This was really interesting, and I am in way too much awe to attempt any kind of critique. Except to say that as a Person-To-Whom-Spelling-Is-Unfriendly (snigger) I couldn't agree more that most of the 'your', 'you're' problems can be cleared up with an explaination such as this.

I'm not sure how I feel about the revelation that English has just as many cases as Russian in addition to all those tenses. If my students are very bad, I shall tell them.

A563456 - Declining English

Post 5

The Flying Dodo

Yow-ee, and I thought my English wasn't bad. Super article ; nothing I can say would improve it. AND an attempt to address one of the Great[-ish] Evils of our Time ! If you could do another article to have a parallel effect on my typiinf [rather than my speling] ...

A563456 - Declining English

Post 6


Typing article? Like:

1) Figure out what you want to type.
2) Figure out how to spell and puctuate what you want to type.
3) Press all the right keys in the right order.

smiley - smiley


A563456 - Declining English

Post 7


For instance you might want to punctuate rather than puctuate.


A563456 - Declining English

Post 8

il viaggiatore

Great article! I learned a lot from it. This subject is of great interest to me. Please write more!
I like the double entendre in the use of the word 'decline'. I, too, shall use this newfound knowledge if my students are unruly.
This entry should be recommmended immediately.

A563456 - Declining English

Post 9


I found this entry interesting. There are a number of suggestions I would like to make:

The Irish O'Somewhere is an attempt to transcribe from the Irish language prefix O or Ui meaning "of the family of" - it isn't short for the English word "of". Since the prefix was often dropped, the spelling "O'Ryan" made it clear that this was basically the same name as "Ryan" and kept the stress in pronunciation in the correct place. I think you would be better to leave this bit out, rather than start dealing with it as an exception.

I agree with whoever said that you should include "ye" as well as "thou" - there are still places where this is actually used in dialect, while I think "thou" is completely obsolete.

Since it's otherwise so complete, I think it would be nice to include reflexive pronouns - "I tell myself", "she hurt herself" etc.

And I'm dubious about your example of the genitive case of "fish" - have you any examples of this form actually being used?
smiley - rose

A563456 - Declining English

Post 10

Lodestone - join the Debating Society at A643925

Love it Arpeggio? How did you get it justified? Formatwise I mean

If you liek this, check out My articler, All You Never Needed To Know About Punctuation

While your about, please, visit the Lyrics Society!

A563456 - Declining English

Post 11

Arpeggio - Keeper, Muse, Against Sequiturs, à propos of nothing in particular


Thank you for info about O'Somewhere... will take that out. I wasn't really totally positive about that, and should probably have researched it further.

As I understand it, 'ye' is used in the Vocative Case: 'Avast ye, daemons!' or 'O, ye of little faith'. I chose not to include Cases that were not relevant to the specific issue I had taken in hand. As it happens, the one place where the 2nd Person Singular has *not*fallen out of use i in prayer and hymnody, which I *think* are more common than the Vocative Case. There are regional dialects in which 'you' is pronounced as 'ye'. I am not aware that the pronoun is declined. Any additional information would be appreciated.

Speaking of dialects, the Amish folk of the US used the 2nd Person Singular, but they do not use the Nominative Case 'thou', they use 'thee' exclusively, except of the Genitive 'thy'. There are undoubtedly pockets and areas in Appalachia in the States, or the Outer Hebrides, or segments of *very* RSP English who use some of the above, and other variants on the declensions of English pronouns. My objective was to straighten out a very common problem on both sides of the Pond with the actual explanation. If you think I did not succeed in that, please let me know how I could improve upon it.

Reflexive pronouns in English are, as you say, another topic I could cover. They are not regular with the other Cases, in particular 'him-self' is irregular. The other selves all take the Genitive Case, and 'him-self' seems to be an accusative... no, 'them-selves' does the same funny thing. I'll read up and try to find out 'Why', because the whole point of the article is to get rid of the 'this is just irregular... memorise it' approach. Thank you for the suggestions.

Arpeggio... out of hospital but still quite smiley - ill and typing with one eye, two fingers, and half a brain cell to operate them all... smiley - blue

The criticisms were constructive, and I shall follow up where I said I would. I'm not very sure about 'ye scurvy dogs'. That is used less than the 2nd Person Singular, since here in the States there are two religions (the Amish, and to a lesser extent the Mennonite) people who use this as their way of addressing one another.

I remember being taught that daft rule about the possessive for fish being fish' when I was quite small, by my parents, who both learnt English some time in the Middle Ages, she as her third or fourth language, and he as his fifth or sixth. As with such foreign speakers, they may well have been taught rules that went out of style with the Plantagenets, and no one in the schools operated by the Raj in India got the word, or in the part of French Switerland, or North Africa, or wherever he was when he learnt English....

It is often very quaint, the way older non-Native speakers of English were taught. But really, I'm in no position to point fingers. I learnt much of my French from people who did not have French as a second, or even third language... and amuse the daylights out of modern Francophones with atavisms so prehistoric that they think they are new...! Will check OED on fish, just to be sure. I know they taught it as a 'don't do this, no one does this any more' at my classical preparatory girls' school, which suggests that someone did, at one time, do that. 'Sibilants' took apostrophes with no 's', is how it was explained.

My pen-name, stage-name, etc is LeKZ, (pronounced 'lex') and I put the apostrophe on the end with no 's'. Otherwise, I should sound like a trendy motorcar made by Toyota, or do they not try to sell the Lexus in the land of the Rolls and the Jaguar? smiley - cdouble

Thank you for the comments, more such would be welcome.

LeKZ' own Arpeggio

A563456 - Declining English

Post 12

Arpeggio - Keeper, Muse, Against Sequiturs, à propos of nothing in particular

smiley - yikes Lodestone, did I understand you to use the word 'formatwise'? I do not ordarily make a practise of answering anything which employs '-wise' in that particular way. It is on my list of Hopeless Illiteracies, along with the word 'hopefully', as it is now almost always used, to mean 'I hope', or 'one hopes' instead of 'filled with hope'.

smiley - erm How do I say this tactfully? Possibly I do not -- manage the Tact part -- that is. I read and commented at some length on your 'Punctuation' article. I really think trying to compare you rather sweeping and general 'rules' list to my very targeted and specific discussion of 'why' is a bit like comparing inkjet printers to ... goats ... minor asteroidal clusters ... name your non sequitur.

BUT, in the interests of providing a public service, I shall answer the question about how I manage to get the print to line up, justificationwise. Start every paragraph with , close every paragraph with You are instantly justified, though not in the use of the suffix '-wise'. smiley - tongueout

Had a teacher in school, lo these many decades past, who had a cartoon on her office door. Weary Editor is looking at Eager Young Writer, with a certain amount of incredulity, asking: 'Hopefullywise? Did I understand this to say *hopefullywise*? Please leave now... I am sure you understand...' whilst reaching for a revolver in his desk drawer. No grounds for actual physical violence to self or others, but Peeves can get very big indeed.

If the US have Another-gate, I shall have to move to Quebec, where they understand my French just fine, and I understand theirs not at all. smiley - smiley

O dear... that half brain cell just sprang a leak. Better take some nice nighty-night pills and get off this machine while I still have the stamina to get horizontal... smiley - zzz

Arpeggio... wondering why you ended your first statement with a question mark... for LeKZ

A563456 - Declining English

Post 13

Arpeggio - Keeper, Muse, Against Sequiturs, à propos of nothing in particular

Flying Dodo...

I'm sure I didn't do an article on one of the Great Elvis of our Time... smiley - sleepy That is what you said, innit?

Typinff? Wouldn't know about that. See what Barton said. He's often right. Except, of curse, when he's Left, or wrong. See?

Sno there. smiley - zzz Arpeggio of the recently regurgitated by hospital and not sure really if should be trusted online alone and without supervision... typinff. I like it. I'm an excelllent typinffst. smiley - silly

A563456 - Declining English

Post 14

Martin Harper

Since Barton is a self-admitted Pedant, I feel in telling him that if we loose the word 'ye', then it'll probably go on a rampage, trampling over all and sundry, until someone finally manages to get its leash back on. We'd be better off *losing* it, all told... smiley - tongueout

Ok - I'm done now... smiley - smiley

A563456 - Declining English

Post 15

Mr Prophet (General Purpose Genre Guru)

This article should be shown to whoever was responsible for the signs on the gateposts of an upmarket estate in my home town, called Keats Garden's (sic).

I think - although I'm not sure - 'ye scurvy dogs' is an example of 'ye' as a dialect pronunciation. If 'corny pirate' counts as a dialect.

Fascinating article, although I would like to say that your/you're and their/they're can also be mistaken in a conversational format simply as a matter of sloppy, overly-phonetic typing, and actually becomes more of a risk the faster you type. I do that myself, despite the fact that I know full well that it's wrong. I cringe everytime I read back something where I've done it, especially if it's in a posting or email I've already sent and can't change.

I'm not sure that sloppy, over-phonetic typing is really an excuse mind, but it is a reason.

The Prophet.

A563456 - Declining English

Post 16

Arpeggio - Keeper, Muse, Against Sequiturs, à propos of nothing in particular

whas rong with slopy fonetik tiping? sum pepl disid wats stanurd then evbodys gota go long wif em or be rong.

spelen an gramer antifaschist union of lekz justa show we can do it

A563456 - Declining English

Post 17

Arpeggio - Keeper, Muse, Against Sequiturs, à propos of nothing in particular

Well, there's 'Ye', from when places/people had forgot how to draw the letter 'thorn', and meant 'the'.

Then there's mannered and pretentious 'ye' users, who also tend to sermonise in High-Churchy ways.

But, I agree, Lucinda... 'ye' is not a word in need of revival, or even a need in word of revival, which is what I almost typed the first time...smiley - drunksmiley - illsmiley - silly

Barton is such a self-styled pedant, that he out-pedants me, and that takes serious *effort*. Fortunately for me, he commits many more typis than I. smiley - hsif

Arpeggio -- advice re article and improving same? Any all would be appreciated!

A563456 - Declining English

Post 18

Martin Harper

'tis a good entry. I wonder if mentioning 'phones and 'planes and suchlike is in order under "Apostrophe Function #1: Abbreviations"

The declension idea might possibly be made clearer if you illustrated with another language? Or not?

And, incidentally, English nouns are also declined in the switch from singular->plural - might be worth explaining?

Another thing is that currently this entry is about Declining English _Nouns_and_Pronouns_ - you should either talk about declining verbs somewhat, or change the title subtly, I reckon...

hope that helps smiley - smiley

A563456 - Declining English

Post 19

Arpeggio - Keeper, Muse, Against Sequiturs, à propos of nothing in particular

No, smiley - silly!

One does not decline verbs. One conjugates verbs. Nouns and adjectives one declines. Yah, here in the States, no one uses 'phones, or 'fridges. I can put in a sentence about it.

Thought about illustrating with another language, and decided that would just bog the thing down. Instead, I defined the relevant cases in English. One should not have to know German, Russian, or Latin to be able to understand declensions. Good point about the plurals. Duh. Missed that one....

What did you *think* you meant by declining verbs? You might just not have the right label, but be onto *something*. D'you mean like gerunds and gerundives (a totally rude soundng word, to our ear...) That seemed a side-track. We really did not want to get into it beyond that sentence about English allowing one to verb almost any not. May very well be we did miss something...

smiley - hsif see ya your spance. smiley - hug

Arpeggio, the no eyed typist...

A563456 - Declining English

Post 20

Martin Harper

doh! I meant conjugation, of course. Dang, and I'm going to have an exam where I'll have to remember such things in a few days... smiley - yikes

"see ya your spance." ?? What's my spance? And how can you see it? smiley - erm

Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more