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Chapter 6. Woe Is I: Pronouns and Case > Why Can't a Pronoun Be More Like a Nou... - Pg. 57

57 Chapter 6. Woe Is I: Pronouns and Case In This Chapter · Learn pronoun case · Untangle who and whom When Quentin Crisp told the people of Northern Ireland that he was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, "Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?" Hey, we don't need religious strife--we have who and whom to contend with. And that's not to mention all the rest of the pronouns. You've got to figure out how to use them correctly, too. In this chapter, you learn about the grammatical role a pronoun plays in a sentence. Armed with this knowledge, you can use all pronouns--even the dreaded who and whom --correctly, with skill and confidence. Why Can't a Pronoun Be More Like a Noun? Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Between you and I, pronouns drive myself crazy, and I bet they do yourself, too. A quick look at the disastrous last sentence and a brief survey of English explains why pronouns are more maddening than a hormone-crazed teenager. Old English, like Latin, depended on word endings to express grammatical relationships. These endings are called inflections . For example, consider the Old English word for stone, "stan." Study this chart. Case Nominative and accusative singular Genitive singular Dative singular Nominative and accusative plural Genitive plural Dative plural Word stan stane stane stanas stana stanum Fortunately, contemporary English is greatly simplified from Old English. (Would I lie/lay to you?) Today, nouns remain the same in the nominative and accusative cases and inflect only for the possessive and the plural. Here's how our version of "stan" ( stone ) looks today: stone, stone's, stones, and stones'. Huh? Sounds like Greek? Not to worry. It will all be clear by the end of this chapter.