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Pronouns
quickinfo

Pronouns traditionally form part of the noun group in Afrikaans, and are divided into different categories and subcategories (Jenkinson, 1987:51). De Stadler (1989:411-412 identified a number of characteristics of the Afrikaans pronominal system, some of which are semantic and others pragmatic:

  1. The pronoun system is used in the first place for reference, with anaphoric pronouns in a prominent position.
  2. Different categories for person: first person (speaker), as in ekI; second person (addressee), as in jyyousingular or uyouhonorific; third person (non-participant), as in hyhe, syshe, hullethey/them, etc.
  3. Number distinctions: typically plural (julleyouplural) versus singular (jyyousingular).
  4. Limited gender distinctions, only with third person singulars: male (hy/homhe/him), female (sy/haarshe/her), and neuter (ditit).
  5. Spatial orientation (including place and time deixis), particularly for possessive and demonstrative pronouns, as these forms function to place different referents in the situation, especially in terms of the speaker or addressee.
  6. Limited case distinctions: some Afrikaans pronouns have different forms for the subject and the object function, such as ekI vs. myme, jyyousubject vs. jouyouobject, syshe vs. haarher.
  7. Inclusivity: the plural first person onswe/us may or may not include the addressee.
  8. Possible distinctions between human and non-human referents.

Ponelis (1979:49) divides Afrikaans pronouns into the following categories:

  1. Not definite
    1. Indefinite: ietssomething, iemandsomebody, niksnothing, niemandnobody, baiemany, genoegenough, heelwata lot, partysome, 'n dinga thing, g'n dingno thing, goedstuff, etc.
    2. Interrogative: wiewho, watwhat, watter/watsewhich
  2. Definite
    1. Personal
      1. 'Real' personal
        1. Independent: ek/myI/me, jy/jouyousingular, hy/homhe/him, sy/haarshe/her, ditit, onswe/us, julleyouplural, uyouhonorific, hullethey/them
        2. Attributive: my ietsmy something, ons ietsour something, jou ietsyoursingular something, julle ietsyourplural something, sy ietshis something, haar ietsher something, hulle ietstheir something
      2. Independent possessive: mynemine, ons s'nours, jouneyourssingular, julle s'nyoursplural, synehis, harehers, u s'nyourshonorific, hulle s'ntheirs
      3. Reciprocal: mekaareach other / one another
      4. Reflexive: my / myselfmyself, jou / jouselfyourself, julle / julleselfyourselves, haar / haarselfherself, hulle / hulleselfthemselves etc.
    2. Demonstrative: hierdiethis/these, daardiethat/those, diéthis/these/that/those
    3. Relative: watthat, wiewho

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[+] Personal pronouns

According to Ponelis (1979:55), personal pronouns refer to referents in specific ways that distinguishes it from lexical nouns: deictic and anaphoric. The most important characteristics according to which Afrikaans personal pronouns are categorised are person, number, and gender (Ponelis, 1979:56). There are three categories of person: first person (ek/myI/me, onswe/us), second person (jy/jouyousingular, julleyouplural, uyouhonorific) and third person (sy/haarshe/her, hy/homhe/him, hullethey/them, ditit) (Ponelis, 1979:56). The first and second person categories denote deictic reference while the third person refers anaphorically (Jenkinson, 1987:55; Ponelis, 1979:56). Regarding number, there is a distinction between singular and plural, and regarding gender, there is a distinction between male, female and neuter in the third person. The singular pronouns typically have different subject and object forms.

First person
In Afrikaans first person pronouns, there is a distinction between singular and plural. The singular subject form of the first person is ekI as in example 1(a) and (1b), and the object form is myme as in example (1b) and (1c), while the plural is onswe/us regardless of whether it is used in subject or object position.

Example 1

a. "Ja, ek sal nog", antwoord Johannes...
AHC
yes I will still answers Johannes
"Yes, I will", answers Johannes...
b. Los my uit, ek wil niks van jou weet nie!
AHC
leave me out I want nothing from yousingular know not
Leave me alone, I want to know nothing about you!
c. Die onderwyser in my begin swig.
AHC
the teacher in me starts succumb
The teacher in me starts to succumb.

In the use of the plural first person onswe/us, the addressee might be included in the expression, as in (2a) and (2b), but not necessarily, as it may refer to only the speaker/writer and another person or people associated with them, like (2c) and (2d).

Example 2

a. Ons sal moet beesslag, my vrou, die dae word nou al koud genoeg.
AHC
we will must cattle.slaughter my wife the days become now already cold enough
We have to slaughter cattle, my wife, the days are becoming cold enough by now.
b. Kom ons sit hier teen die rantjie, dan vertel ek jou die storie.
AHC
come us sit here against the hill then tell I yousingular the story
Let us sit here against the hill, then I'll tell you the story.
c. Gee ons nog 'n paar minute, as dit julle nie sal verontrief nie.
AHC
give us few a more minutes as it youplural not will inconvenience not
Give us a few more minutes, if it would not inconvenience you.
d. Vandag sit jy die Aerenco hier reg voor ons neer.
AHC
today put yousingular the Aerenco here right front us down
Today you put the Aerenco down right here in front of us.

The plural onswe/us can also be used with a postmodifying noun, numeral or other pronouns that identifies a particular group, such as ons tweeus two, ons onderwysersus teachers, or ons almalus everyone. See the examples in (3), where (3a) has a numeral, (3b) a NP and (3c) an indefinite pronoun.

Example 3

a. Ons moes haar die storie twee keer vertel en elke keer het ons drie gerol soos ons lag.
AHC
we must her the story two times tell and every time have us three rolled as we laugh
We had to tell her the story twice, and every time the three of us rolled laughing.
b. Ons klomp joernaliste vaar die strate in om te gaan kyk wat gebeur.
AHC
us lots journalists rush the streets in to.to go look what happens
Us journalists rush into the streets to go and see what's hapening.
c. My ma was by die huis tot ons almal skool toe is.
AHC
my mother was at the house until us everyone school to are
My mother stayed at home until all of us went to school.

Second person
The second person pronouns also distinguish between singular and plural forms. The singular has a subject form jy and an object form jou, that refers directly to someone who is being addressed. The use of the subject form can be seen in (4a-c), and the object form in (4c) and (4d).

Example 4

AHC
a. BLABLA G: you
a. you
You can bring your swimsuit along, if you want to go and cool down between the Tilapia and the frog slime!
AHC
b. BLABLA G: you
b. you
You are everything and were everything.
c. Voor jy kies, wil ek jou iets anders wys.
AHC
before yousingular subject choose want I yousingular object something different show
Before you choose, I want to show you something else.
d. Ek praat met jou!
AHC
I talk with yousingular object
I'm talking to you!

Like the first person pronouns, the same second person plural form (julleyouplural) is used in both the subject and object position. The shortened form jul is also recognised, but it is used predominantly as a possessive pronoun in written language (Kirsten, 2016:165). The use of julle can be seen in (5).

Example 5

a. En het julle toe alles gesien?
AHC
and have youplural subject then everything saw
And did you see everything?
AHC
b. BLABLA G: you
b. you
You are the media, you have to do something.
c. Kan ek julle al aanstel as bankbestuurders?
AHC
can I youplural object already appoint as bank.managers
Can I appoint you already as bank managers?
d. Ek vertrou dat bogemelde inligting vir julle van waarde sal wees.
AHC
I trust that above.mentioned information for youplural object of value will be
I trust that the above mentioned information will be of value to you.

Another type of second person pronoun in Afrikaans is the honorificu, which is unmarked for number, case or anyting else. In example (6a) it is used as form of address to a single person, and in (6b) to firstly address a representative of a group and secondly the group as a whole.

Example 6

a. Wanneer wil u met die werk begin, meneer Du Preez?
AHC
when want youhonorific singular with the work start mister Du Preez
When do you want to start with the work, mister Du Preez?
b. My advies aan u en aan die gemeenskap van Elandskloof is dus om wat u as huurders beoog deur opregtheid en welwillendheid te probeer bereik.
AHC
my advice to youhonorific singular and to the community of Elandskloof is thus to what youhonorific plural as tenants aim through sincerity and kindness to try achieve
My advice to you and the community of Elandskloof is to achieve what you want as tenants with sincerity and kindness.

This form is, however, not particularly popular, as it is marked very strongly for formality and distance (Ponelis, 1993:207). There are other options to use as forms of address in Afrikaans, that would still convey respect without being 'overly' formal. Older men, for instance, can be called oomuncle, and older women tannieauntie, without actually being related to the speaker in any way, as in (7a) and (7b). The form of address can also be repeated later in the sentence to avoid using any pronoun, especially jy/jouyousingular which can be seen as too familiar and informal. This repetition is illustrated in (7a) and (7c), where there is a family relation but the repetition is still used with the form of address.

Example 7

a. Oom, my pa is nie baie gelukkig nie. Hy sê hy wil asseblief nie weer Oom se bokke in sy veld hê nie.
AHC
uncle my dad is not very happy not he says he wants please not again uncle 's goats in his field have not
Uncle, my dad is not very happy. He says he would like to not have Uncle's goats in his field again.
b. Tannie is dan 'n boom!
AHC
auntie is then a tree
But Auntie is a tree!
c. Nou maar wag net so 'n bietjie, Pa. Ek gaan haar roep en dan stel ek haar aan Pa voor.
AHC
now but wait just so a little dad I go her call and then introduce I her to dad verb particle
But wait a bit, Dad. I will call her and then I will introduce her tot Dad.

Third person
In Afrikaans third person pronouns can be distinguished along three lines: animate and inanimate, male and female, and singular and plural.

With singular third person pronouns, 'natural' gender is distinguished with hy/homhe/him for male (8a) and sy/haarshe/her for female (8c & 8d), and ditit for inanimate objects without gender (8b). The male forms are also sometimes used to refer to inanimate objects (8b), as well as for generic human reference, while this is not so much the case with the female forms.

Example 8

a. "Woef-woef!" In worstaal sê hy dat hy vreeslik bly is om voor oom Jannie se huis te wees.
AHC
woof-woof in dachshund.language says he that he very happy is to front uncle Jannie 's house to be
"Woof woof!" In dachshund language he's saying that he is very happy to be in from of uncle Jannie's house.
b. Die silinderkop en alles wat binne-in hom is, langbout, moere en klep, is van geelkoper sodat dit nie sal roes nie.
AHC
the cylinder.head and everything that within him is long.bolt nuts and clasp are of yellow.copper so.that it not will rust not
The cylinder head and everything inside it, long bolt, nuts and clasp, is made of yellow copper so that it will not rust.
c. Sy is twee maal per dag vir die volle tydperk gemelk.
AHC
she was two times per day for the full time.period milked
She was milked twice a day for the full period.
d. Sy trek die deur agter haar toe en kom nader.
AHC
she pulls the door behind her closed and comes closer
She pulls the door closed behind her and comes closer.

Ponelis (1979:68-69) describes the polysemous nature of hy/homhe/him, indicating that it can be used with many different functions beyond reference to masculine humans (as in 9b):

  1. Reference to masculine persons or animals (such as hingsstallion) as in (9a).
  2. Reference to collective nouns, such as regeringgovernment or kommissiecommission, where the use of hy/homhe/him rather than hullethey/them emphasises the unity of the group rather than the individual members (9c and 9d).
  3. Reference to all count nouns (abstract and concrete) (9e and 9f).
  4. Generic (human) reference (9g).
Example 9

a. As 'n bul homself bewys het, word hy as kuddevaar in 'n agtkampstelsel na die stoetery oorgeplaas.
AHC
if a bull himself proven have is he as herd.sire in an eight.camp.system to the stud over.placed
If a bull has proven himself, he is transferred to an eight camp system at the stud.
b. Matthee is op albei aanklagte teen hom vrygespreek.
AHC
Mathee was on both charges against him free.spoken
Mathee was acquitted of both charges against him.
c. Die sendingkommissie kon uiteraard nie teen mense optree met wie hy geen ooreenkoms aangegaan het nie...
AHC
the missionary.commission could naturally not against people act with who he no agreement enter have not
The missionary commission could naturally not act against people with whom they have not entered into an agreement.
d. SAID kán jou looi met belasting op jou kontantonttrekking as jy met hom kortpaaie probeer loop.
AHC
SAID can yousingular pepper with tax on your cash.withdrawal if you with him shortcuts try walk
SAID can pepper you with tax on your cash withdrawal if you try to take shortcuts with it.
e. Waar 'n tak val, groei hy.
AHC
where a branch falls grows he
Where a branch falls, there it grows.
f. Laat staan maar die gekyk na die kraan. Jy sal nie water uit hom uit kyk nie.
AHC
let stand but the looking at the tap yousingular will not water out him out look not
Stop looking at the tap. You will not look water out of it.
g. As iemand 'n paar dinge vra, gee jy hom iets.
AHC
if somebody a few things ask give yousingular him something
If somebody asks you a few things, you give him something.

The neuter form ditit is typically used for inanimate objects, and it is unspecified in terms of number (Ponelis, 1979:71-72). In (10a) it refers to a single object, whereas in (10b) it is used in the plural. It is also often used as a dummy subject, without referencing anything in particular, as in (10c) and (10d).

Example 10

a. Die tweede sleutel is fyn en lyk of dit enige oomblik kan breek.
AHC
the second key is fine and looks of it any moment can break
The second key is delicate and looks like it can break at any moment.
b. Daaroor troon uitheemse Port Jacksons, akasias, rooikransbome en denne. Dit verskaf baie meer brandstof en brand met 'n baie intenser hitte.
AHC
over.it towers foreign Port Jacksons acacias rooikrans.trees and pines it provides much more fuel and burns with a much intenser heat
Over it towers foreign Port Jacksons, acacias, rooikrans trees and pines. It provides much more fuel and burns with a much intenser heat.
c. Dit begin reën en die water loop in slierte teen my gesig en in my nek af.
AHC
it starts rain and the water runs in trails against my face and in my neck down
It starts to rain and the water streaks down my face and my neck.
d. Dit is Maandag, 2 Augustus 1706.
AHC
it is Monday 2 August 1706
It is Monday, 2nd of August 1706.

The contracted form disit's for dit isit is is often used in copula constructions, and is not necessarily marked for informality. For instance, (11a) comes from a research article, (11b) from a magazine, and (11c) from a newspaper.

Example 11

a. ...dis egter maklik bekombaar in enige amptelike dokumentasie oor uitkomsgerigte onderrig...
AHC
it's however easily accessible in any official documentation on outcome.based teaching
It's easy to find in any official documents about outcome based education.
b. Dis dus moeilik om genetiese en leefstylgewoontes apart van mekaar te bestudeer.
AHC
it's thus difficult to genetic and lifestyle.habits apart from each.other to study
It's difficult to study genetic and lifestyle habits separately.
c. Dis juis die ou Stalinistiese roggelings en uitgediende ideologiese bagasie...
AHC
it's exactly the old Stalinistic wheezing and obsolete ideological baggage
It's the old Stalinistic wheezing and obsolete ideological baggage.

The third person plural form is hullethey/them, which is unmarked for gender or case and can be used with inanimate objects as well. See example (12a) and (12b). It also has a shortened form, hul, but it is used mostly as a possessive in written language (Kirsten, 2016:184).

Example 12

a. Hulle het in tente gewoon en was gedurig op soek na weivelde en drinkgate.
AHC
they have in tents lived and were constantly on search for pastures and drinking.holes
They lived in tents and were constantly looking for pastures and waterholes.
b. Ons hét net drie borde gehad en hulle is almal in een aand gebreek.
AHC
we have just three plates had and they were everyone in one evening broken
We had just three plates and they were all broken in one evening.

A particular usage of the third person plural hullethey/them is in what Ponelis (1993) calls the associative construction, where -hulle is attached to a proper name or form of address to identify a group (two or more people) through one of its members. In (13a), oom Koot-hulle refers to uncle Koot and the people associated with him; in (13b) Ouma-hulle refers to Grandmother and those associated with her in this context; in (13c) De Wet-hulle refers to the person De Wet and the people associated with him.

Example 13

a. Dit lyk my oom Koot-hulle is ewe handig.
AHC
it looks me uncle Koot-them are equally handy
It looks to me like uncle Koot and them are equally handy.
b. Sarah sit alleen, net agter Ouma-hulle.
AHC
Sarah sits alone just behind Ouma-them
Sarah sits alone, just behind Ouma and them.
c. 'n Skermutseling was reeds aan die gang toe De Wet-hulle daarop afkom.
AHC
a skirmish was already on the go when De Wet-them there.on down.come
A skirmish was already underway when De Wet and his men stumbled upon it.

In one variety of Afrikaans, a similar construction is used but with -goed-things, as in Pa-goedDad-things rather than Pa-hulleDad-them as in Standard Afrikaans.

Example 14

Antie weet mos Jakkie se ma-goed staan mos daar vir die winter.
AHC (adapted)
auntie know Jakkie 's mom-things stand there for the winter
Auntie knows that Jakkie's parents stay there for the winter.

Generic pronouns
The term generic is used here as referring to a subcategory of indefinite pronouns referring to people in general. There are many different options available for generic (human) pronouns in Afrikaans, most of which come from existing pronominal forms, but also other noun phrases.

A commonly used phrase or term used to refer to an unspecified person or people, is 'n mensa human or just menshuman, both illustrated in (15).

Example 15

a. Min dinge skok mens nog.
AHC
few things shock human still
Few things still shock people.
b. "Mens moet maar aanpas," grinnik een pa.
AHC
human must but adapt grins one dad
"You have to adapt", grins one father.
c. Hoe heel 'n mens 'n hart?
AHC
how heal a human a heart
How do you heal a heart?
d. My vrou, dis nou wat 'n mens lekker noem.
AHC
my wife it's now what a human delicious calls
My wife, that's now what I call delicious.

The use of ('n) mens(a) human is often combined with the second person singular pronoun jy/jouyousingular, in this context also used indefinitely and not to refer to a specific person being addressed (Ponelis, 1979:105), as can be seen in (16a) and (16b). Jy/jouyousingular is also used without ('n) mens(a) human as in (16c) and (16d). Rarely, the honorific second person u is also used in this way (16e).

Example 16

a. Verby is die dae toe 'n mens maar moes koop wat jy op die rak kry.
AHC
passed are the days when a human but mustpast tense buy what you on the shelf get
The days have passed where you just had to buy what you could find on the shelf.
b. Mens word seker maar in die hel gestraf wanneer jy eers dood is.
AHC
human is probably but in the hell punished when you already dead is
You probably get punished in hell after you die.
c. Of jy nou 'n werksoeker is of iemand met 'n goeie werk, maak jou klaar om anders oor die toekoms te dink, sê Kobus.
AHC
whether yousingular now a work.seeker are or somebody with a good job make yousingular finish to different about the future to think says Kobus
Whether you are looking for a job or have a good job, prepare yourself to think differently about the future, says Kobus.
d. Hoewel jy nie jou genetiese samestelling kan verander nie, kan jy iets aan jou eetgewoontes en aktiwiteitsvlak doen.
AHC
even.though yousingular not yoursingular genetic composition can change not can yousingular something to yoursingular eat.habits and activity.level do
Even though you cannot change your genetic makeup, you can do something about your eating habits and activity levels.
e. In later eeue het mense meer begin spesialiseer – oor die werk meer geword het, of die mense dommer en luier was, moet u self besluit.
AHC
in later centuries have people more start specialise over the work more became have or the people dumber and lazier were must youhonorific decide
In later centuries, people started to specialise – because the work became more, or the people dumber and lazier, you decide.

Especially in informal and spoken language, the third person plural hullethey/them is used indefinitely sometimes (17).

Example 17

a. Raaltjie sê dat sy na die radio sal luister as hulle dit uitsaai.
AHC
Raaltjie says that she to the radio will listen if they it broadcast
Raaltjie says that she will listen to the radio when they broadcast it.
b. Nietzche is 'n mal hond wat hulle moes vermoor het die dag toe hy gebore is.
AHC
Nietzsche is a crazy dog that they mustpast tense murdered have the day when he born was
Nietzsche is a crazy dog that they should have murdered the day he was born.
c. Hulle het in X se kar ingebreek hier voor.
AHC
they have in X 's car in.broken here front
They broke into X's care here in front.

According to tradition, the male third person singular hy/homhe/him is still used generically to some extent as in (18a) and (18b), although it is slowly being replaced by alternatives, one of which is the combined male-female forms such as hy/syhe/she or hy of syhe or she or the object forms hom/haarhim/her and hom of haarhim or her(Kirsten, 2016:199) as in (18c) and (18d). Alternatively, the female sy/haarshe/her is also used on occasion (18e and 18f).

Example 18

a. Elke mens kan leer om kreatief te wees. Hy moet bloot leer om sy kreatiwiteit te gebruik.
AHC
every human can learn to creative to be he must just learn to his creativity to use
Every person can learn to be creative. He just has to learn to use his creativity.
b. ...om die verbysterende in die mens se lewe (binne en buite hom) te verklaar.
AHC
to the devastating in the human 's life (inside and outside him) to explain
...to explain the devastating things a person's life (inside and outside him).
c. Hy/sy sal jou uitvra oor jou lewenstyl.
AHC
he/she will yousingular out.ask about yoursingular lifestyle
He/she will ask you about your lifestyle.
d. Sulke eenogiges sien en hoor net wat hulle wil van 'n ander mens en op grond daarvan hang hulle haar of hom 'n etiket om die nek.
AHC
such one.eyed.ones see and hear just what they want from an other person and on ground there.of hang them her or him a label around the neck
Such one-eyed people only see and hear what they want about another person and on those grounds label her or him.
e. Moenie jou baba alleen laat huil wanneer sy so klein is nie.
AHC
must.not yoursingular baby alone let cry when she so little is not
Don't let your baby cry alone when she is so young.
f. Bly weg van stellings wat jou kind skuldig laat voel of wat haar onveilig en bedreig laat voel.
AHC
stay away from statements that yoursingular child guilty let feel or that her unsafe and threatened let feel
Stay away from statements that will let your child feel guilty or that will let her feel unsafe and threatened.

Reciprocal pronouns
Reciprocal pronouns can only be used anaphorically, and not with deictic reference; it has to refer anaphorically to something in the same sentence (De Stadler, 1989:413). These pronouns cannot function independently, and cannot be used in the subject position, only as an object. Examples of Afrikaans reciprocal pronouns include the frequently used mekaareach other (illustrated in 19a to 19c), and the much less frequent die een die anderthe one the other (19d and 19e) and elk die andereach the other (19f).

Example 19

a. So reik gister en vandag mekaar die hand.
AHC
so reach yesterday and today each.other the hand
So yesterday and today reach out to each other.
b. Die ouer mans kyk geskok na mekaar.
AHC
the older men look shocked at each.other
The older men look at each other in shock.
c. Twee sake word met mekaar vergelyk.
AHC
two matters are with each.other compared
Two matters are compared with each other.
d. ...bemoedig mekaar en bou die een die ander op...
VivA Korpusportaal
encourage each.other and build the one the other up
...encourage each other and build one another up.
e. Julle mag die een die ander nie bedrieg nie.
VivA Korpusportaal
youplural may the one the other not deceive not
You may not deceive one another.
f. ...is die imperium gedeel deur twee konsuls, waarvan elk die ander se aksies kon veto.
VivA Korpusportaal
were the imperium divded through two consuls where.of each the other 's actions could veto
...the imperium were divided into two consuls which could veto one another's actions.

Reflexive pronouns
Ponelis (1979:86) and De Stadler (1989:414) describe Afrikaans reflexive pronouns not as a category on their own, but as a special usage of the object form of personal pronouns. Reflexive pronouns refer anaphorically back to the sentence subject. If the action of the verb does not circle back to the performer of the action, the pronoun is not reflexive but what De Stadler (1989:415) calls psuedo-reflexive.

Reflexive pronouns manifest with two forms in Afrikaans: the bare object form of a pronoun (20a to 20e), and the extended form with -self (20f to 20i).

Example 20

a. Hy draai hom om na haar en grinnik gerusstellend.
AHC
he turns him(self) around to her and grins reassuringly
He turns around to her and grins reassuringly.
b. Karos en Plato maak hulle gereed vir 'n lang wag...
AHC
Karos and Plato make them(selves) ready for a long wait
Karos and Plato prepare themselves for a long wait.
c. Maar as ek my dood val, sal dit jou skuld wees.
AHC
but if I my(self) dead fall will it your fault be
But if I fall to my death, it will be your fault.
d. Gemeente, ons moet ons daarop toelê om die Here lief te hê!
AHC
parish we must our(selves) there.on devote to the Lord love to have
Parishoners, we should devote ourselves to loving the Lord!
e. Ek hoor u kan u in enigiets verander.
AHC
I hear youhonorific singular can your(self)honorific singular in anyting change
I hear you can turn yourself into anything.
f. Arboreta leer ook sommer gou vir Silvie hoe om haarself soos 'n boom te laat lyk.
AHC
Arboreta teaches also just quickly for Silvie how to herself like a tree to let look
Arboreta also teaches Silvie how to make herself look like a tree.
g. Jy hou aan om jouself te bevraagteken.
AHC
yousingular hold on to yourself to question
You continue to question yourself.
h. Ek wil myself vanaand toevou in my jammerkry.
AHC
I want myself tonight close.fold in my sorry.get
I want to cover myself in selfpity tonight.
i. So moes die boere van die Kalahari hulleself tot vakmanne opwerk om alles op die plaas self te kan doen.
AHC
so mustpast tense the farmers of the Kalahari themselgves to craftsmen up.work to everything on the farm self to can do
So the farmers of the Kalahari had to work themselves into craftsmen to be able to do everything on the farm themselves.

In Standard Afrikaans, the -self forms are only accepted when the pronoun receives particular emphasis (as in 20g), or to disambiguate between different possible interpretations (as in 20f). However, the forms with -self are increasingly being used also when neither of these conditions apply (as in 20h and 20i) (Kirsten, 2016:203). This indicates that the restrictions are being relaxed.

[+] Demonstratives

Afrikaans has three demonstrative pronouns: hierdiehere.thisthis/these, daardiethere.thatthat/those and diéthis/these/that/those. These pronouns are used deictically to specify (in a way 'point to') things being referred to. While hierdie is used to indicate proximity, daardie indicates distance, and dié is unspecified for distance (Kirsner, 2014:48).

All three the demonstratives are used attributively (21a to 21c) as well as independently (21d to 21e).

Example 21

a. Dié bal sal van vandag af gekoop wees.
AHC
this/that ball will from today from bought be
This ball will be bought from today onwards.
b. Die meeste van hierdie voedings het 'n intensiteit van kleiner as 2% gehad.
AHC
the most of these feedings have an intensity of smaller than 2% had
Most of these feedings had an intensity of lower than 2%.
c. En daardie deurleefde siening wil die kunstenaar aan ander oordra.
AHC
and that through.lived view want the artist to other over.carry
And the artist wants to convey that view based on experience.
d. Hy het die kudde by sy pa oorgeneem toe dié afgetree het.
AHC
he have the herd from his father over.taken when this/that down.stepped have
He took over the herd from his father when he retired.
e. Ek glo egter hierdie was 'n uitsondering en dat ons in Kaapstad sal terugveg.
AHC
I believe however this was an exception and that we in Cape.town will back.fight
I do believe, however, that this was an exception and that we will fight back in Cape Town.
f. Dit was mense daardie wat die wêreld verstaan het.
AHC
it was people those that the world understood have
Those were people that understood the world.

While the independent use of dié is widely accepted, the independent use of hierdie and daardie is discouraged in Standard Afrikaans (Carstens, 2011:73).

The deictically neutral dié is close to the definite article diethe in terms of form. While the distinction is indicated through stress patterns in spoken language, the distinguishing acute accent is sometimes omitted in written language. In order to distinguish it from the definite article in these cases, there are two strategies available. When a 'die' is used independently as in (22), it has to be a demonstrative, as articles are used as determiners with nouns.

Example 22

Die besoedeling wat veroorsaak word, kan ook vergelyk word met die van steenkoolkragstasies waarvan daar 21 in Suid-Afrika in bedryf is.
AHC
the pollution that caused is can also compared be with that of coal.powerplants where.from there 21 in South-Africa in operation are
The pollution caused can also be compared to that of coal powerplants, of which there are 21 in operation in South Africa.

When a die is used attributively, it can still be regarded as a demonstrative when it is clearly meant to specify one thing or a selection of things from a larger group or collection as in (23).

Example 23

a. Op die manier raak jy gou-gou konfyt.
AHC
on this way get yousingular quick-quick jam
In this way you get practiced quickly.
b. Of Tregardt van die opstandelinge die aand verwag het en opsetlik padgegee het, of bloot toevallig uithuisig was, is moeilik om te sê.
AHC
whether Tregardt of the rebels that evening expected have and on.purpose away.gave have or merely coincidentally out.house was is difficult to to say
Whether Tregardt expected the rebels that evening and fled on purpose, or was merely away by coincidence, is difficult to say.

A shortened version of daardiethat/those, namely daai, is sometimes used in informal contexts. As with daardie, it is used both attributively and independently, as illustrated in 24.

Example 24

a. Ek kén daai gevoel!
AHC
I know that feeling
I know that feeling!
b. Hennerik, trap dood daai zol.
AHC
Hennerik step dead that joint
Hennerik, kill that joint.
c. Ek het dringend so 'n handboek nodig, van daai's wat sy self gebruik hoe bekom ek dit?
AHC
I have urgent such a textbook need, of those that she self uses how acquire I it
I need such a textbook urgently, one of those that she uses herself, how do I acquire it?
[+] Relative pronouns

The Afrikaans relative pronouns watthat/what and wiewho introduce relative clauses, and function as a referencing expression or an individualising description (Ponelis, 1979:461). In a relative clause, the relative pronoun can function as subject, object, and part of a preposition phrase, and it can also be used as part of a larger noun phrase (Ponelis, 1979:465). See (25) for examples of how it is used.

Example 25

a. Aangeheg is 'n artikel wat via die internet by my uitgekom het.
AHC
attached is an article that via the internet by me reached have
Attached is an article that found its way to me via the internet.
b. Wel, die feit is, die polisie wéét wat hulle doen.
AHC
well the fact is the police know what they do
Well, the fact is, the police know what they're doing.
c. Ek het teruggeskree so al wat ek kan.
AHC
I have back.shouted so all that I can
I shouted back as well as I could.
d. Verskeie slagoffers, onder wie Smit se seun Koos, is aangerand.
AHC
various victims under which Smit 's son Koos were assaulted
Various victims, among which Smit's son Koos, were assaulted.
e. Nee, jy is die enigste een teenoor wie ek dit kan doen.
AHC
no yousingular the only one against who I it can do
No, you are the only one towards whom I can do it.
f. De Klerk het verlede naweek die huis van die mense by wie sy loseer, opgepas toe sy verdwyn het.
AHC
De Klerk have last weekend the house of the people by who she lodges looked.after when she disappeared have
De Klerk looked after the house of the people with whom she lodges, when she disappeared.

When a relative clause is used referentially, the antecedent and the relative pronoun form an anaphoric chain – the relative pronoun refers back to the antecedent, so the relative clause is 'about' the antecedent in some way (Ponelis, 1979:463).

There are also so-called free relative constructions, with an implied, indefinite antecedent – wiewho means more or less 'everyone / someone who', and watwhat means more or less 'that which' (Ponelis, 1979:463) as can be seen in (26).

Example 26

a. Wat Belcampo van die tweeling sê, geld eintlik vir albei gevalle.
AHC
what Belcampo of the twins say counts actually for both cases
What Belcampo says of the twins, is true for both cases.
b. Wat alles daar gesê is, is nie opgeteken nie.
AHC
what everything there said were is not recorded not
All that was said there, was not recorded.
c. Wie Colette self is, sal sy nog moet leer.
AHC
who Colette self is will she still must learn
Who Colette is herself, she still has to figure out.
d. Wie op die hemel wag, weet dat, al is die aarde God se skepping en ons genieting, dit nie alles is nie.
AHC
who on the heaven waits know that even is the earth God 's creation and our enjoyment it not all is not
Who waits on heaven, knows that, even if the earth is God's creation and for our enjoyment, it is not everything.

Wie can be used in the genitive construction wie sewhose, and it is occasionally also used in the same function as wat (27c), even if it is discouraged in the Standard variety.

Example 27

a. Dit was weer die buurvroutjie wie se stem tot hier gedra het.
AHC
it was again the neighbour.woman whose voice to here carried have
Once again, it was the neighbour's voice that carried here.
b. En boonop is dit iemand wie se naam "woud" beteken!
AHC
and futhermore is it someone whose name "forrest" means
And furthermore, it is someone whose name means "forrest'!
c. Hy moes trou met 'n vrou wie hy geweet het ontrou aan hom sou wees.
AHC
he mustpast tense marry with a woman who he knew have unfaithful to him would be
He had to marry a women that he knew would be unfaithful to him.

Because of their phonetic similarity and similar syntactic positions, and possibly the English use of that, the form datthat is sometimes used in the same way as wat (28). Dat usually functions as a complementiser and not a pronoun.

Example 28

a. Oom Jannie is glo baie eensaam en lewe vir die dae dat Lofty kom kuier.
AHC
uncle Jannie is apparently very lonely and lives for the days that Lofty comes visit
Uncle Jannie is apparently very lonely, and lives for the days that Lofty comes to visit.
b. Dit is die heel, heel eerste keer dat iemand vir Arboreta erken.
AHC
it is the very very first time that someone for Arboreta recognises
It is the very, very first time that someone recognises Arboreta.
[+] Interrogative pronouns

The same forms that are used as relative pronouns can also be used as interrogative pronouns, with watwhat more typically referring to something inanimate and wiewho to a person. Different instances of usage are exemplified in (29).

Example 29

a. Wat soek jy hier?
AHC
what seek you here
What are you doing here?
b. Wat is anders?
AHC
what is different
What is different?
c. Te laat vir wat?
AHC
too late for what
Too late for what?
d. Wie doen die artikel?
AHC
who does the article
Who is writing the article?
e. Nou wie het hier gewoon?
AHC
now who have here lived
Then who lived here?
f. Aan wie behoort die weiveld?
AHC
to who belongs the pasture
To whom does the pasture belong?
[+] Indefinite pronouns

This category excludes generic (human) pronouns, which are discussed in the section on personal pronouns.

Afrikaans has a central group of indefinite pronouns, two pairs of postive and negative forms: iemandsomeone/somebody and niemandno-one/nobody, and ietssomething and niksnothing, the former referring to people and the latter to inanimate objects (see 30).

Example 30

a. Ek is redelik seker ek het nog nooit iemand ingelaat nie.
AHC
I am rather certain I have not never somebody in.let not
I am fairly certain that I have never let anybody in.
b. Skielik spring iemand op en storm na die venster.
AHC
suddenly jumps somebody up and storms to the window
Suddenly somebody jumps up and storms the window.
c. Maar jy mag vir niemand vertel nie.
AHC
but yousingular may for nobody tell not
But you may not tell anybody.
d. Niemand sal my glo nie.
AHC
nobody will me believe not
Nobody will believe me.
e. Smit skop na iets.
AHC
Smit kicks at something
Smit kicks at something.
f. Ek wil dié twee met iets wegstuur.
AHC
I will these two with something away.send
I want to send these two away with something.
g. Nee, dit het niks met kleur te doen nie.
AHC
no it has nothing with colour to do not
No, it has nothing to do with colour.
h. Niks vreesliks is gesê nie.
AHC
nothing bad was said not
Nothing bad was said.

The class of indefinite pronouns remains open, though (Ponelis, 1979:100), with new indefinite uses sometimes emerging from NPs, indefinite numerals and W-words.

Other forms that are often used pronominally include alleseverything, almaleveryone/everybody and elkeeneach.oneeveryone, illustrated in (31). The shortened form of alles is als (31g).

Example 31

a. En almal is weg.
AHC
and everybody is gone
And everybody is gone.
b. Almal lag, Kryg inkluis.
AHC
everybody laughs Kryg included
Everybody laughs, including Kryg.
c. Alles draai en wentel nou om Naas.
AHC
everything turns and orbits now around Naas
Everything now turns around Naas.
d. Jy het volop om te eet en alles gaan met jou voorspoedig.
AHC
yousingular have abundance to to eat and everything goes with yousingular prosperously
You have enough to eat and everything goes well with you.
e. Dit word aan tafel deur elkeen self gedoen.
AHC
it is at table by each.one self done
It is done at the table by each one themselves.
f. Elkeen het 'n rooi baadjie en 'n geweer oor die skouer.
AHC
each.one has a red jacket and a gun over the shoulder
Each one has a red jacket and a gun over the shoulder.
g. ...dat ek al soms gevoel het als gaan oor hom.
AHC
that I already sometimes felt have everything goes about him
...that I have felt sometimes that everything is about him.

Many indefinite pronouns can also be merged with enig-any-, for instance enigiemandanybody, enigietsanything and enigeenanyone (32).

Example 32

a. Enigiemand, van babas tot bejaardes, kan voordeel trek uit die gebruik van die 38 blomme-geneesmiddels.
AHC
anybody from babies to elderly can benefit draw from the use of the 38 flower.cures
Everybody, from basies to the elderly, can benefit from using the 38 flower cures.
b. Tot hede vanaand hier weet ek nie of enigiemand anders dit ooit gehoor het nie.
AHC
until now tonight here know I not if anybody else it ever heard has not
Until here tonight I don't know if anybody else has ever heard it.
c. Hy kan enigiets sien.
AHC
he can anything see
He can see anything.
d. "Maak jou reg vir enigiets", sê Karos so in die loop.
AHC
make yousingular ready for anything says Karos so in the walking
Prepare yourself for anything, Karos says while walking.
e. Enigeen kan dit doen.
AHC
anyone can it do
Anyone/Anybody can do it.
f. So wel die een vraag na die ander in die ballerina se kop op en sy het nie 'n antwoord op enigeen nie.
AHC
so wells the one question after the other in the ballerina 's head up and she has not an answer on anyone not
And so one question after the other pops into the ballerina's head and she does not have an answer for any one of them.

Indefinite pronouns can be used with premodifiers (33a and 33b) and postmodifiers, although postmodification is much more commonly used than premodification (33c to 33d).

Example 33

a. ...só iemand dien immers afgode.
AHC
such somebody serves after.all idols
Someone like that serves idols, after all.
b. Die takke krap sy bene en hy stamp sy toon teen 'n klip, maar hy voel amper niks.
AHC
the branches scratch his legs and he hits his toe against a rock but he feels almost nothing
The branches scratch his legs and he hits his toe against a rock, but he barely feels anything.
c. Iets binne-in hom is vir haar afgesluit.
AHC
somethine inside-in him is for her locked.away
Something inside of him is locked away from her.
d. Almal in my familie is vreeslik geleerd.
AHC
everybody in my family is very learned
Everybody in my family is very learned.

The Dutch version of the Afrikaans almaleverybody/everyone, which is allemaal, is used as a quantifier (34a), but in Afrikaans it is also used as an independent pronoun (34b and 34c).

Example 34

a. "Middag, Oom, middag, julle almal" groet ek hulle so in die bondel...
AHC
afternoon uncle afternoon youplural everybody greet I them so in the bundle
Good afternoon, Uncle, good afternoon, you all" I greet them all in a group.
b. Annemie is vies vir almal.
AHC
Annemie is upset for everybody
Annemie is upset with everybody.
c. Almal is baie stil terwyl ons ontbyt eet.
AHC
everybody is very quiet while we breakfast eat
Everybody is very quiet while we eat breakfast.
[+] Possessive pronouns

Afrikaans has two categories of possessive pronouns: a category of attributive possessive pronouns, and a category of independent predicative possessive pronouns (Ponelis, 1979:83).

Most attributive possessive pronouns in Afrikaans have the same form as the object form of the equivalent personal pronoun, for instance mymy, onsus/our, jouyou/your, haarher, hullethem/their(Ponelis, 1979:84). The one exception to this rule is the male singular third person, with hyhe as the subject form, homhim as the object form, and syhis as the attributive possessive form, which is also used for neuter inanimate possessive pronouns. (35) shows examples of how the attribute possessive pronouns are used.

Example 35

a. Hulle sal al my geld vat.
AHC
they will all my money take
They will take all of my money.
b. Hy het paaiemente op ons huisverband begin oorslaan.
AHC
he have installments on our mortage started skip
He started to skip installments on our mortage.
c. Het jy jou eetgoed gekry?
AHC
have yousingular yoursingular eat.things gotten
Did you receive your food/snacks?
d. Haar blaf is erger as haar byt.
AHC
her bark is worse than her bite
Her bark is worse than her bite.
e. ...ek hou van jul berge.
AHC
I like for yourplural mountains
...I like your mountains.
f. Sorg dat jy, jou man en jul oppasser dieselfde metode gebruik.
AHC
ensure that yousingular yoursingular husband and yourplural nanny the.same methods use
Take care that you, your husband and your nanny use the same methods.
g. Neem julle plekke in, mense.
AHC
take yourplural places in people
Take your places, people.
h. Ons vertrou dat u die aangehegte inligting waardevol sal vind met u finansiële beplanning.
AHC
we trust that youhonorific singular the attached information valuable will find with yourhonorific singular financial planning
We trust that you will find the attached information useful/valuable in your financial planning.
i. Hulle swaai hul arms en buig-buig net soos die vyand.
AHC
they wave their arms and bend-bend just like the enemy
They wave their arms and bow just like the enemy.

In some varieties of Afrikaans, the genitive particle se's is used with the object forms of pronouns instead of the bare forms being used attributively (36).

Example 36

Jy moet daar by my ook kom gesig wys en dan vertel jy my van julle se skool en al daai.
AHC
yousingular must there at me also come face show and then tell yousingular me about yourplural 's school and all that
You should pop in at my place as well, then you tell me about your school and all that.

The independent possessive pronouns fall into two subcategories. On the one hand, the singular pronouns have a single unit mynemine, jouneyours, synehis and harehers (37a to 37d). On the other hand, the plural pronouns have a periphrastic construction for independent use, combining with s'nhis, e.g. ons s'nours, julle s'nyours, hulle s'ntheirs (37e to 37g). The honorific second person u has a special archaic form still occasionally used at the end of formal letters and when an author refers to themselves: die uwethe yoursyours truly (37i and 37j), while in all other contexts it follows the plural pattern with u s'nyours(37h) (Ponelis, 1979:84).

Example 37

a. Baby, jy's myne vanaand.
AHC
baby yousingular're mine tonight
Baby, you're mine tonight.
b. Kyk hier, my hare is gladder as joune!
AHC
look here my hair is straighter than yours
Look here, my hair is more straight than yours!
c. Hy het haar bewerige hand ferm in syne geneem.
AHC
he have her shaking hand firmly in his taken
He took her shaking hand firmly into his.
d. Hy steek sy regterhand uit, bly hare 'n oomblik lank vashou terwyl hy haar nou waarderend bekyk.
AHC
he puts his right.hand out keep hers a moment long hold while he her now appreciatively look
He put out his right hand, keeps holding hers for a moment while he looks at her with appreciation.
e. Hy is in graad elf en hulle klas is ver van ons s'n.
AHC
he is in grade eleven and their class is far from ours PARTICLE
He is in grade eleven and their class is far from ours.
f. Maar hulle s'n is skynbaar sonder pyn.
AHC
but theirs PARTICLE is apparently without pain
But theirs is apparently without pain.
g. ...die hele Egipteland is julle s'n.
VivA Korpusportaal
the whole Egypt.land is yours PARTICLE
...the whole of Egypt is yours.
h. Maar ook nie myne of u s'n nie.
VivA Korpusportaal
but also not mine or yourshonorific PARTICLE not
But also not mine or yours.
i. Maar nadat die uwe in al my middeljarige onskuld die resensie gelees het...
VivA Korpusportaal
but after the yourshonorific in all my middle.aged innocence the review read have
But after yours truly read the review in all of my middle aged innocence...
j. Dankbaar die uwe / Hoogagtend die uwe
VivA Korpusportaal
thankfully the yourshonorific / highly.regarded the yourshonorific
Thankfully, yours truly / Regards, yours truly

The particle s'n also serves as the blanket device for independent possessive uses with other pronouns, nouns and NPs, as in (38).

Example 38

a. Sy't tot laat lig sien brand in een van die ouhuis se vensters – Koos Nek s'n, het sy later vasgestel.
AHC
she'd until late light see burn in one of the old.house 's windows Koos Nek 's has she later determined
She saw a light on in one of the windows until late – Koos Nek's, she determined later.
b. Bob Woolmer s'n is so.
AHC
Bob Woolmer 's is so
Bob Woolmer's is like that.
c. Ouma Tya gee 'n laggie wat soos 'n stout kind s'n klink.
AHC
Grandma Tya gives a laughdiminutive that like a naughty child 's sound
Grandma Tye laughs, a little like a naughty child.
d. ...volgens God se reëls, nie die mens s'n nie!
AHC
according God 's rules not the humanity 's not
...according to God's rules, not people's!
e. G'n wonder dat die beerleeu nie dik kon word voordat hy almal s'n opgeëet het nie.
AHC
no wonder that the bear.lion not full could become before he everybody 's up.eated have not
No wonder the [animal] could not become full before he ate everyone's.
f. ...vir ingeval Stiefskoonpa se hart, of myne, of ons albei s'n, dalk as gevolg van die spanning ingee...
AHC
for in.case Step.father.in.law 's heart or mine or us both 's maybe as consequency of the tension in.give
...just in case Step-father-in-law's heart, or mine, or both of ours, gives up under the tension.
[hide extra information]
x
References:
  • Fries, Peter1999Postnominal modifiers in the noun phraseCollins, Peter & Lee, David (eds.)The clause in EnglishAmsterdam/PhiladelphiaBenjamins
  • Fries, Peter1999Postnominal modifiers in the noun phraseCollins, Peter & Lee, David (eds.)The clause in EnglishAmsterdam/PhiladelphiaBenjamins
  • Gold, David L1998An instance of convergence: Frisian witte and Yiddish mideyeLeuvense Bijdragen87151-153
  • Gold, David L1998An instance of convergence: Frisian witte and Yiddish mideyeLeuvense Bijdragen87151-153
  • Gold, David L1998An instance of convergence: Frisian witte and Yiddish mideyeLeuvense Bijdragen87151-153
  • Gold, David L1998An instance of convergence: Frisian witte and Yiddish mideyeLeuvense Bijdragen87151-153
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