Sylheti language/Pronouns

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Personal Pronouns

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Sylheti personal pronouns share some similarities with pronouns in other Indo-Aryan languages and even English, but also some marked differences compared to these languages.

  • Pronouns do not differentiate for gender - the same pronoun can be used for a male or a female person.
  • The second-person pronouns have three forms - the very familiar (VF), the familiar (F), and the polite (P) forms. Which set of pronouns is to be used in a given situation depends on the familiarity/intimacy of the person to the speaker (similar to the tú/usted distinction in Spanish).
  • Similarly, the third-person pronouns also have three forms - the familiar (F), the polite (P), and the inanimate (I) - where the inanimate pronouns are used to refer to inanimate objects. The VF form doesn't apply to third-person pronouns.

Let's start by looking at all these personal pronouns for the nominative case.

Nominative case

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The nominative case is used to refer to the subjects in the sentence, such as "I am talking", or "You look great!".

Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 ami (I) amra (we)
2 VF tui (you)
F tumi (you) tumitain/tumra (you)
P afne (you) afnain/afnara (you)
3 H F he/tai (he/she) hera/era (they)
P tain/ein (he/she) tara (they)
I igu/ogu (it) igun(t)/ogun(t) (these)

Objective case

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The objective case is used to refer to the direct or indirect objects in speech, (i.e., upon which (or whom) the verb acts), such as "I am talking to him", or "He took it".

Note that the I (inanimate) pronouns remain the same in objective case as they are in the nominative case. Typically this isn't a problem since the context can easily determine if a pronoun is acting as a subject or an object. For all the other pronouns, simply adding the -কে ("ke") suffix for singular pronouns, and the -দেরকে ("derke") suffix for the plural pronouns, along with slight modification the original nominative pronoun, yields the objective case pronoun.

Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 amare (me) amrare (us)
2 VF tore (you)
F tumare (you) tumrare/tumitainre (you)
P afnare (you) afanarare/afnainre (you)
3 H F ogure/igure (him/her) ogunre

Possessive case

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The possessive case is used to show possession, such as "Where is your coat?" or "Let's go to our house". In addition, sentences such as "I have a book" or "I need money" (আমার টাকা দরকার) also use the possessive (more on this in later chapters).

Again, similar to the objective case pronouns, pronouns in the possessive case are formed by introducing small suffixes (র for singular, দের for plural) to the corresponding nominative pronoun, along with slight modifications.

Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 amar (my) amrar (our)
2 VF tor (your)
F tumar (your) tumrar/tumitainor (your)
P afnar (your) afnainor/afnarar (your)