"Third person plural" redirects here. For the film directed by James Ricketson and starring Bryan Brown, see Third Person Plural
, grammatical person
is the grammatical distinction between deictic
references to participant(s) in an event; typically the distinction is between the speaker (first person), the addressee (second person), and others (third person). First person
includes the speaker (English: I
, and us
), second person
is the person or people spoken to (English: you
), and third person
includes all that is not listed above (English: she
, etc.) 
Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns
. It also frequently affects verbs
, and sometimes nouns
Some other languages use different classifying systems, especially in the plural pronouns. One frequently found difference not present in most Indo-European languages is a contrast between inclusive and exclusive "we"
: a distinction of first-person plural pronouns between including or excluding the addressee.
Many languages express person with different morphemes in order to distinguish degrees of formality and informality. A simple honorific system common among European languages is the T-V distinction
. Some other languages have much more elaborate systems of formality that go well beyond the T-V distinction, and use many different pronouns and verb forms that express the speaker's relationship with the people they are addressing. Many Malayo-Polynesian languages
, such as Javanese
, are well known for their complex systems of honorifics
also have similar systems to a lesser extent.
Effect on verbs
In Romance languages
such as Spanish
, the grammatical person affects the verb conjugation.
In this image, each row represents person and number: first person
, second-person informal
and second-person formal and third person
Columns represent tense
(image: morning – past, noon – present, night – future).
In many languages, the verb
takes a form dependent on the person of the subject and whether it is singular or plural. In English
, this happens with the verb to be
- I am (first-person singular)
- you are/thou art (second-person singular)
- he, she, one, it is/they are (third-person singular)
- we are (first-person plural)
- you are/ye are (second-person plural)
- they are (third-person plural)
Other verbs in English take the suffix -s to mark the present tense third person singular, excluding singular 'they'.
In many languages, such as French
, the verb in any given tense takes a different suffix for any of the various combinations of person and number of the subject.
The grammar of some languages divide the semantic space into more than three persons. The extra categories may be termed fourth person, fifth person, etc. Such terms are not absolute but can refer depending on context to any of several phenomena.
The term fourth person
is also sometimes used for the category of indefinite or generic referents, which work like one
in English phrases such as "one should be prepared" or people
in people say that...
, when the grammar treats them differently from ordinary third-person forms.
The so-called "zero person"
and related languages, in addition to passive voice
may serve to leave the subject-referent open. Zero person subjects are sometimes translated as "one," but the problem with that is that English language constructions involving one
, e.g. "One hopes that will not happen," are rare
and could be considered expressive of an overly academic tone to the majority of people, while Finnish sentences like "Ei saa koskettaa" ("Not allowed to touch") are recognizable to and used by young children in both languages.
English pronouns in the nominative case
- ^ Hattum, Ton van (2006). "First, Second, Third Person: Grammatical Person". Ton van Hattum.
- ^ Harrigan, Atticus G.; Schmirler, Katherine; Arppe, Antti; Antonsen, Lene; Trosterud, Trond; Wolvengrey, Arok (2017-10-30). "Learning from the computational modelling of Plains Cree verbs". Morphology. Springer Nature. 27 (4): 565–598. doi:10.1007/s11525-017-9315-x. ISSN 1871-5621.
- ^ Laitinen, Lea (2006). Helasvuo, Marja-Liisa; Campbell, Lyle (eds.). "0 person in Finnish: A grammatical resource for construing human evidence". Grammar from the Human Perspective: Case, space and person in Finnish. Amsterdam: Benjamins: 209–232.
- ^ Leinonen, Marja (1983). "Generic zero subjects in Finnish and Russian". Scando-Slavica. 29 (1): 143–161. doi:10.1080/00806768308600841.
Last edited on 13 June 2021, at 06:23
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