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Pronoun number

The difference between something being singular or plural is what we call 'grammatical number' in English. Here's how that idea applies to pronouns!

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  • sneak peak purple style avatar for user bluebelle567
    So, just totally random, I thought that the plural form of 'me' was 'we'. So if there were clones of 'me' than wouldn't 'we' go to the grocery store?
    (9 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Ricky
    what is the difference between us and we?
    (8 votes)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user Chelsea Flynn ✎
      Hey, RIcky! Essentially, it's just grammar.
      For example :

      1.) "We went to the grocery store!"
      "Us went to the grocery store!"
      2.) "The driver told us which bus to take."
      "The driver told we which bus to take."

      For 1, we is better to be used in the first scenario and for 2 us in better to be used in the first scenario.
      Hope this helped! :)
      -C
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user samantha marquez
    What is a cantaloupe?
    (2 votes)
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  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Alena Freiberg
    () Does that mean that we shouldn't use singular personal pronouns and plural personal pronouns in the same sentence? What if you were to say, "I looked at our unfinished science project." Is that incorrect? Would there be a different way to say it?
    (2 votes)
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    • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Rosie Friedland
      Hi Alena, I'd say it depends on the context. If you're working on a group project, and you're talking to your classmates you're working on the project with, "I looked at our unfinished science project" would make sense. The example David gives in the video is "I looked at my watch," and in this case it would be highly unlikely that one person would be sharing a watch with someone else and say "I looked at our watch."

      So it depends on the context, but the idea is that the pronouns need to make sense based on what you're referring to. Let me know if you have questions!
      (11 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user andrew
    At what at about We for the singular me?
    Is that possible
    (4 votes)
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    • mr pants teal style avatar for user steffi627
      They is a phenomenon known as the 'Royal we' - basically a posh way of saying 'I'. For example, 'We don't think that is a good idea.' People such as journalists and sole traders may also use 'We' instead of 'I' to sound bigger/more professional, even when 'I' would be more accurate (e.g. 'We have seen sales increase over the last year.'; 'We asked a spokesperson to comment.').

      'We' can also be occasionally jokingly substituted for 'you', for instance when you are talking to someone acting a bit pretentiously or speaking to a pet, e.g. 'Oh we don't like that do we?'.
      (7 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Malachi
    You say at the sentence "We made my beds." is grammatically incorrect but would it still be incorrect if beds was singular?
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      BUT THEN....
      I have three beds. I sleep in one from 10 PM until midnight, in the other from until , and in the third from until my alarm rings at . Yesterday, my cousin was visiting and staying in the guest room. After he awoke at , we ate breakfast, and then we made my beds.
      (9 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user kristennicole0807
    "We made my beds" doesn't sound right to me
    (3 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user AmAv
    At David says that "our" doesn't agree with "I" or "me". But there can be several examples where "I" agrees with our-
    For example-I looked at our dilapidated house remorsefully.
    (I think)In this example "I" agrees with "our" because it denotes that I am a person "1"(singular) sharing the house with another person "2".This means both of us(person "1" and "2") are sharing the house.

    Please clarify this for me.
    Thank you.
    (3 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      In your example: "I looked at our house..." the agreement is not about number, but about grammatical person (both pronound are first person). But it's not even there. Compare these sentences:

      I looked at her house...
      She looked at his house...
      They looked at my houses...
      You looked at your houses...

      So, in these examples, there's not even a need for pronoun agreement, much less for number agreement.

      Some grammatical principles are involved here, but they are not the principles of pronoun number.
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user brady.bailey
    could you say Our dog went to the doctor.
    (3 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      If she went by herself, you could say that. But if someone from your home escorted her there, it might be more correct to indicate that.
      I'm a citizen of Taiwan, a multilingual nation. In one of the languages there, a person "sees the doctor", in another one, a person "let's the doctor see". It's the same thing, just expressed in a different direction.
      (3 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Adrian
    is it correct to use like and literally in the same sentence?
    (2 votes)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user SierraNightlight
      I believe you could in some cases. But if you really want to think about whether or not they can contradict we need to think about literally and figuratively. You can like something that is exactly what is said, or you can like something that isn't literal (like a pun). It could also be used in a sentence like this:

      I literally like speaking figuratively.

      It makes sense and could say that you like something literal or not. Like a well-said simile. If you like it, then you can understand that it's not quite literal, but the words like and literally are similar and can be used as a sentence but they can sometimes contradict each other or create an even more interesting sentence. It just depends on how you think about it.
      (3 votes)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] So here's something weird and cool about English and languages in general. It's that they have a sense of number kind of encoded into them. We call this grammatical number. And the way this plays out is in the difference between singular and plural in English. The idea of there being one of a thing or more than one of a thing. More than one of a thing. There we go. And this extends throughout the language and I want to talk about today, the way it applies to pronouns. So the singular form of me is me. Right, that's the singular form. The plural form of it, excuse me. The plural form of me is us. Because you know, there are many. Assuming, okay, assuming I was cloned. There's one of me, fine, that's singular. But let's say I walk into like a cloning machine, you know, and it's like, a part of it has got little bubbles and it's full of this weird, viscous liquid. It shoots out another David. Suddenly there's two David's. May the earth tremble. But how do we refer to ourselves? More than one me is us. The grammatical number increases. I'm part of a group now. Or for a more normal prosaic, non-cloning example, let's say my sister and I are going out for coffee. I'd refer to the two of us together as us. That's the grammatical number, it's plural. So it's important to remember when you are writing or speaking, to keep singular and plural straight throughout the course of a sentence or a paragraph because you don't want to mislead people into thinking you're talking about something else. Let me show you what I mean. For example, I would say I looked at my watch. I don't have a watch anymore. Do you have watches? Do people still have watches? Now I wouldn't say, I looked at our watch, unless, I don't know, a partner and I shared a watch. Unless my little sister and I both had the same watch and we traded it back and forth each month. Which is pretty unlikely and kind of silly. And so what I'm trying to say is that "our" doesn't agree, doesn't match up with "I" or "my." This is plural and this is singular. That is a very strange place to wear a watch. What is that, at the elbow? Alright, so we've got the dog wagged its tail. Dog is singular, its is singular. Want to make sure these things match up. We made our beds. This is plural and this is plural. As opposed to we made my beds. Which, who has multiple beds first of all. But it would also sound like multiple people, including me, were assisting me in making my many beds. There are two exceptions to this. And they are you and they. And either one can be singular or plural. So there can be a singular you or a plural you. There can be a singular they or a plural they. And I'll explain more about singular they later. The important thing is to be consistent overall. So if you establish that something is singular, you need to maintain that singularity throughout the rest of talking about that thing. So if I'm talking about cantaloupe, and here's a test, can I spell cantaloupe in real time without looking it up. That looks right to me. The cantaloupe was delicious. In the next sentence, I would say I ate it in one sitting. And it's not I ate them, it's I ate it because there's only one cantaloupe, you see? That's what I mean about grammatical number and grammatical number agreement. You just want to make sure that this thing, which we call an antecedent, links up with a pronoun. So the thing you say before you use the pronoun has to match up in terms of whether it's singular or plural. You get that figured out, you will be a master of grammatical number. You can learn anything. David out.