In a nutshell, pronouns take the place of nouns. He, she, it, him, her, them, they, we, you or I are all pronouns. In addition, pronouns have several special powers that other parts of speech do not have. Pronouns can possess things—yours, mine, theirs, his, hers. They can demonstrate things, like “This is the color I want.” That and these are also pronouns. And finally, pronouns can interrogate–they can ask questions: who, what, where, when, whom, are all pronouns. Other words like everyone, many, or everything, are also pronouns.
The two most commonly used pronouns are you and I, with I being perhaps the most often used. In fact, it is a defining moment in the life of a child when they suddenly, for the first time, use the word I. It’s significant, because for a while, little children experience themselves as being one with everything. Not only that, but they will often refer to themselves by their own name: “Billy wants a cupcake,” Billy might say about himself, or “Sally wants to go to the library,” Sally might say about herself. So when a child begins saying the word I he or she will soon be saying it a million times a day.
I remember when our second son came running around the hallway corner one day when he was about three. As he came by he grabbed the wall to stop himself. And as he did, he stopped just long enough to look up at me and shout: “I!”—And then he was off again running, happily shouting, “I! I!” From that day forward the word I has been a part of his everyday vocabulary.
Today, reflect on the two most popular pronouns you and I. Practice saying you more often today than I or my. Practice thinking about someone else today more than I, me, my, and mine. Reflect on the significance of you and I—how they go together so naturally, so necessarily. Reflect on the Ubuntu saying, “I am because you are.” And if you still have room for more after all that reflecting, try writing a poem about yourself without using the words I, me, my, or mine. Try writing a poem about someone you love without using the words you or I. Finally, try writing a prayer to the God (or Goddess) of your understanding without using either you or I.
And just for fun, let’s end the post with a video from Schoolhouse Rocks! Cheers!
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog