Chapter One, Page Ten – It’s All Relative

Apologies for the delay on this one.  I’ve been off work this last week or so and I’ve been galavanting.  The bonus is you should have two pages this week and then back on schedule for next.

I decided to hold off on verbs having realised that something had to be said about relative pronouns at this point.  I will probably do one more page on possessive pronouns and then, finally, get on to verbs.  I’m not going in to great depth here as I don’t want to spend too much time on this area at the moment.  I like to think of these pages as a concise introduction to a very large subject.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.  Pronouns are, if you will excuse the pun, relatively complex words and as such I’ve found it difficult to come up with nice visuals for them as you can probably tell.  I just hope my explanation is straightforward enough for you to understand without losing the essence of how these words work.

Feedback is always welcome.

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Chapter One, Page Eight – Klaus the Cat

The cat has a name.  Why Klaus?  Ronnie alerted me to a joke which I found quite appropriate by suggesting that the cat be called Sentence.

The joke:

Q. What’s the difference between a cat and a sentence?

A. A cat has its claws at the end of its paws whereas a sentence has its pause at the end of its clause.

I didn’t like Sentence as a name, but I liked the idea.  Klaus it is then.

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Chapter One, Page Nine – Page Eight Revised.

So, one quick edit later and we have a better page.

I’m calling this page nine simply because I messed up the order of things.  Next week’s page will be a new page eight about proper nouns, which gives a more logical progression and finishes of the section on nouns.  This means I’m going to have to name the cat.

I’m going to spend a bit more time with pronouns in chapter two so that I can go into detail about possessives and relative pronouns.  This page merely represents a quick overview.

Page ten then will be about verbs.  Woop woop!

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Mea Culpa

Thanks to Chris Collins for this feedback.

Pronouns aren’t nouns.  Their job is to replace nouns, that much I was right on, but to describe them as a special type of noun is not accurate.  The question I had to ask though was why not?  A little bit of digging and I found this at
“A pronoun is not in fact a noun per se, because it cannot substitute for a noun per se. The word classroom, underlined in sentence (a) below, is pretty unexceptionally a noun. If it were true that a pronoun can substitute for a noun, then sentence (b) ought to be acceptable, because it is substituted for classroom, but that sentence is no good. In fact, what a pronoun can be substituted for is a noun phrase – here, the classroom – and that’s why sentence (c) is all right.

a. The teacher locked the classroom.
b. *The teacher locked the it.
c. The teacher locked it.

In linguistics, a noun is any word that can be used where a noun (not a pronoun, not a noun phrase) can be used. This definition sounds really unwieldy, but it turns out to work a little more reliably than the old person-place-or-thing definition (it’s a little difficult to see beauty or ridicule or swimming, for example, as things in the usual sense).”

Basically (and I hope I’ve got this right) there must exist a noun or a noun phrase that the pronoun replaces, otherwise it makes no sense.  While the function of a pronoun is that of a noun or a noun phrase*, without the assumption that one such word or phrase exists (whether it is mentioned or not) a pronoun does not mean anything.  A pronoun cannot be used without replacing something.

If you don’t understand what the problem is, don’t panic.  All it amounts to is a border dispute by two neighbouring countries that are almost identical in culture.

Anyway, expect amendments to page eight in future posts.

*Noun phrases will be addressed when discussing sentence construction in chapter two.

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Chapter One, Page Eight – Pronouns

Not a visually stimulating page this week but an important one nonetheless.  Pronouns are strange and useful nouns.  Deciding when to use them can be a bit tricky.  Consider the saying, “She’s the cat’s mother.”  Why the cat’s mother has little to do with pronouns (a she is what we call a female cat as opposed to a tom) but the sense is important.  One should not say she when referring to a lady in your presence.  He is okay for a man though, even though you are using language in the exact same way.  What is so special about women that they deserve to be fully named at all times? Tradition and convention calls for it though.

On the other hand, if you continually name someone when discussing them, you will insult the intelligence of your readers and listeners.


Jack put on Jack’s hat and said goodbye to Jack’s children.  “I’ll see you in two weeks,” Jack said.  Jack was going on holiday.  Jack needed one since Jack’s damn kids were driving Jack insane.

By the end of this short passage, we know exactly who we’re talking about – to the point of being incredibly boring and obvious.  Pronouns are a useful way of avoiding that.

A better way of doing it

Jack put on his hat and said goodbye to his children.  “I’ll see you in two weeks,” he said.  He was going on holiday.  He needed one since those damn kids were driving Jack insane.

So there you go.  A lot shorter and less bogged down.  What Jack’s kids did to annoy him, I don’t know.  Your guess is as good as mine.

Pronouns also are useful for telling you what point of view we are seeing things from:

I put on my hat and said goodbye to my children.

Goodbye children!  See you next week.


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Chapter One, Page Seven – Collective Responsibility

A late post, so again, not much to say.  Here’s another link.  Enjoy:

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Alot of time!

Apologies folks.  Not going to get a page for today.  Maybe tomorrow.  In the meantime, check this out:

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Chapter One, Page Six – Fewer Potatoes!

Sorry this comes so late in the day.  I’ve been pretty busy this week so I was a bit rushed today doing this.  Maybe you can tell.  Maybe you can’t.

Anyway, you may also have noticed that the tree on the last page and the ones on this page are based on the drawings of Theodor Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr Seuss.  In my research for reference materials I found a wealth of stuff available.  This interesting documentary: (this is part one of nine.)

and my favourite of the Dr Seuss cartoons:

I should mention that I’ve been adding links here and there.  Scroll down to check them out.


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Chapter One, Page Five – Count and Mass Nouns

I’ve not much to say today, but I do have an offering.  However, YouTube won’t let me add the song I want to a video I made for you.  But I’ve solved the issue.  Sort of.

Listen here:

Watch here:

It might not be as nicely timed as I had it, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

Oh, and I should also mention that the definition of “mass” comes from here:

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Chapter One, Page Four – Is Gravity an Abstract Noun?

Gravity.  Is it an abstract noun?  A physicist would say it isn’t, that it’s an actual force that has an actual effect on people.  Then again, you can’t touch it.  It has no physical mass, no real tangible presence.

Air, some would say is in a similar position, but air is a collection of gases.  There are actual atoms in there, actual physical mass.  It’s concrete.

What about light though?  And why should we even care?

The thing is, in the day to day running of your life, it hardly even matters how you categorise these terms.  Ambiguity (a brilliant abstract noun that has quite a specific meaning) is a thing common in language and that ambiguity can be manipulated to great effect by poets and wordsmiths and copywriters and such. However, by categorising types of words, we pin down the definitions a bit more.  It certainly is nice to be able to say exactly what you mean and be understood by all around.

Labels serve a purpose, but not necessarily an all encompassing purpose.  For my purpose – providing a decent punchline for page four while maintaining my linguistic integrity – gravity is an abstract noun.

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