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In our introductory lesson on Akan (Twi) Pronouns (Edinnsiananmu), we defined a pronoun as a word or phrase used in place of a noun or noun phrase, often because the referent of the noun or noun phrase has been mentioned earlier or understood within the context. We said a pronoun is used in place of a noun or noun phrase to refer to someone or something so that we don’t end up sounding repetitive by mentioning/writing the same name over and over again.
If you understood that lesson very well, then I can assure you the present lesson will be simple. Today, we are looking at personal pronouns.
What is a personal pronoun?
A personal pronoun is a pronoun that is used to refer to a particular person, a thing, or an animal. A Twi personal pronoun may take on different forms to show:
- Number: whether the personal pronoun refers to a singular entity or plural.
- Person: whether the personal pronoun is referring to the one who is speaking, the one being spoken to, or a third party.
- Case: whether the personal pronoun is acting as the subject or object in a sentence.
I hope you recall our first point under the Notes subsection of Lesson 5. We said no difference exists between the masculine and feminine gender as far as the forms of Twi pronouns are concerned.
List of Personal Pronouns in Twi
The table below shows the list of personal pronouns in Twi, with their English equivalents.
|Me||I (1st person singular subject)|
Me (1st person singular object)
|Wo||You (2nd person singular subject)|
you (2nd person singular object
|Ɔno||He/She (3rd person singular subject)|
Him/Her (3rd person singular object)
|Ɛno||It (3rd person neutral subject)|
It (3rd person neutral object)
|Yɛn||We (1st person plural subject)|
Us (1st person plural object)
|Mo||You (2nd person plural subject)|
You (2nd person plural object)
|Wɔn||They (3rd person plural subject)|
Them (3rd person plural object)
Let’s use the Twi personal pronouns above in some simple sentences. You will find them underlined.
1. Meyɛ kyerɛkyerɛni.
I am a teacher.
2. Wo nko ara na wonim.
You alone know.
3. Ɔno na ɔfrɛɛ wo.
It was he/she who called you.
4. Ɛtɔɔ fam
It fell on the floor.
5. Yɛn nso bɛtumi ayɛ.
We also can do it (we can also do it)
6. Mokɔɔ he?
You (plural) went where?
7. Wɔn nyinaa maa me bi.
They all gave me some.
Functions of Twi Personal Pronouns
You may have noticed two English equivalents to each Twi personal pronoun in the table above. For each Twi personal pronoun in the table, there was the English subject and object versions. In order to understand the distinction between the two, we need to revisit the initial part of our definition of a pronoun.
A pronoun is a word or phrase used to replace a noun or noun phrase.
So, all types of pronouns – including personal pronouns – may be used to replace nouns and noun phrases. Now, we know from Lesson 20: Functions of Twi Nouns that a Twi noun may perform several functions within a sentence. For instance, a Twi noun may function as the subject or object in a sentence. This means that, when a personal pronoun is used in place of a noun or noun phrase, it assumes the function that the noun or noun phrase was playing in that construction. Thus, if a personal pronoun is used to replace a noun that is acting as the subject of a sentence, that particular pronoun automatically becomes the subject pronoun of the sentence. Similarly, if a personal pronoun substitutes an object noun or noun phrase, the personal pronoun becomes the object pronoun.
In effect, personal pronouns form a broad type of pronouns, encompassing subject pronouns and object pronouns. In our next two lessons, we will delve a bit deeper into the workings of Twi subject and object pronouns respectively.
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