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Nominative Constructions

Nominative Constructions :

Nominative constructions of the personal pronouns are the same as those of nouns.

1. I am ready. [Subject.]

2. It is I. [Predicate nominative.]

3. Here, you rascal, what are you about? [Vocative, direct address.]

4. Poor you! [Nominative of exclamation.]

5. General Austin, he and no other, won the battle. [Apposition.]

Care must be taken not to use an objective form when a predicate nominative is required.

1. It is I [NOT me].

2. It is we [NOT us] who did it.

3. It was he [NOT him] who told us.

4. It was they [NOT them] who were to blame.

It has several peculiar uses in the nominative.

It is used as the subject in many expressions like….

1. It rains.
2. It snows.
3. It lightens.
4. It is cold.

In these sentences, no definite subject is thought of. In this use, it is said to be impersonal.

Note : An impersonal it also occurs as a cognate object in colloquial language such as….

1. Hang it!
2. Go it!
3. He went it.

4. He farmed it for a year.

Other examples of the indefinite and impersonal it in various constructions are…

1. We are roughing it.
2. Keep it up.
3. You’ll catch it.
4. Let it all go.
5. He made a poor job of it.
6. He made a success of it.

It often serves as grammatical subject merely to introduce the verb is, the real subject of the thought standing in the predicate. In this use it is called an expletive (or filler).

1. It is he.
2. It is Christmas.
3. It was a tiresome ride.

In these examples, the subject of the thought (he, Christmas, ride) appears as a predicate nominative.

The antecedent of it is often a group of words.

1. Wearing tight shoes is foolish. It deforms the feet.

In imperative sentences the subject (you) is commonly omitted such as….

2. Shut the door.
3. Take it down.
4. Write the article.
5. Complete the project.
Note : The subject I is sometimes omitted in wishes such as….

“Would he were here!" for “I would that he were here."

.So also in “Thank you," “Pray tell me" (compare Prithee for “I pray thee").

Expressions like “Canst tell?" (for “Canst thou tell?"), “Art there?" (for “Art thou there?") are common in poetry and older English. These come from the gradual wearing away and final disappearance of the pronoun thou (canst thou, canstow, canstë, canst).

Personal Pronouns and Possessive Case

The possessive forms MY, THY, OUR, YOUR, HER and THEIR are used when a noun follows. MINE, THINE, OURS, YOURS, HERS and THEIRS cannot be followed by a noun and stand commonly in the predicate. His may be used in either way.

1. My brother has arrived.
2. Our work is done.
3. I have torn your glove.
4. Their turn has come.
5. His hair is black.

a. The fault is mine.
b. Those seats are ours.
c. This pencil is yours.
d. That field is theirs.
e. The book is not his.

Examples of mine, yours, etc. not in the predicate are….

a. Mine was a terrier. Yours was a pointer.
b. Theirs is a red motor car.
c. Ours broke down last night.
d. His leaked badly.
e. His name is Martin; hers is Smith.

In such cases the pronoun is always emphatic. The construction is chiefly colloquial.

Note : In older English and in poetry mine and thine are common instead of my and thy before words beginning with a vowel or h such as….

Mine eyes dazzle: she died young. - John Webster.

The very minute bids thee ope thine ear. - Shakespeare

Mine is sometimes used after a vocative noun such as….brother mine.

For expressions like “a friend of mine," “that unruly tongue of yours."

When two or more separate objects are spoken of as possessed, a possessive should precede the name of each if there is danger of ambiguity.

a. I will send for our secretary and our treasurer. [Two persons.]

b. I will send for our secretary and treasurer. [One person.]

c. I have called for my bread and my milk. [Two things.]

d. I have called for my bread and milk. [A mixture.]

e. Have you Bacon’s “Essays and Apophthegms"? [One book.]

f. Have you Bacon’s “Essays" and his “Advancement of Learning"? [Two books.]

Personal Pronouns and Objective Case

The commonest constructions in which personal pronouns take the objective case are the following.

1. Object of a preposition.

Take it from him.

2. Direct object of a transitive verb.

I will find you.

3. Indirect object of a transitive verb.

He gave me a dollar.

4. Subject of an infinitive.

Note : In poetry the objective me is sometimes used in exclamations: as,—“Me miserable!" (Milton).

In methinks and meseems (“it seems to me"), me is a remnant of the old dative, as in the indirect object.

The compounds thereof, therewith, therefrom, etc., are equivalent to of it, with it, from it, etc.: as,—“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Leviticus xxv. 10).

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