I (pronoun)

In Modern English, I is the singular, first-person pronoun.



In Standard Modern English, I has five distinct word forms:


Old English had a first person pronoun the inflected for four cases and three numbers. I originates from Old English (OE) ic, which had in turn originated from the continuation of Proto-Germanic *ik, and ek;[3] The asterisk denotes an unattested form, but ek was attested in the Elder Futhark inscriptions (in some cases notably showing the variant eka; see also ek erilaz). Linguists assume ik to have developed from the unstressed variant of ek. Variants of ic were used in various English dialects up until the 1600s.[4] The Proto-Germanic root came, in turn, from the Proto Indo-European language (PIE) *eg-.[3]

Old and Middle English first-person pronouns
Singular Dual Plural
Early OE Late OE ME Early Late ME Early Late ME
Nominative ic I wit wit we
Accusative meċ uncit unc usiċ ūs us
Dative me unc ūs
Genitive mīn mīn (n) uncer uncer ūser ūre our(es)

*Early OE circa 700 CE,[5]:144 late,[6]:117 and ME[6]:120

Old English me and mec are from Proto-Germanic *meke (accusative) and *mes (dative).[7] Mine is from Proto-Germanic *minaz,[8] and my is a reduced form of mine.[9] All of these are from PIE root *me-.[7][8]



I can appear as a subject, object, determiner or predicative complement.[10] The reflexive form also appears as an adjunct. me occasionally appears as a modifier in a noun phrase.

Coordinative constructions

The above applies when the pronoun stands alone as the subject or object. In some varieties of English (particularly in formal registers), those rules also apply in coordinative constructions such as "you and I".[11]

In some varieties of non-standard informal English, the accusative is sometimes used when the pronoun is part of a coordinative subject construction,[11] as in

This is stigmatized but common in many non-standard dialects. [12]


Pronouns rarely take dependents, but it is possible for me to have many of the same kind of dependents as other noun phrases.


I's referents are limited to the individual person speaking or writing, the first person. I is always definite and specific.


According to the OED, the following pronunciations are used:

Form Plain Unstressed Recording
I (UK) /ʌɪ/

(US) /aɪ/

me (UK) /miː/

(US) /mi/

/mi/, /mɪ/


my /mʌɪ/ /maɪ/
mine /mʌɪn/ /maɪn/
myself (UK) /mʌɪˈsɛlf/

(US) /maɪˈsɛlf/




  1. ^ a b c Terminological note:
    Authorities use different terms for the inflectional (case) forms of the personal pronouns, such as the oblique-case form me, which is used as a direct object, indirect object, or object of a preposition, as well as other uses. For instance, one standard work on English grammar, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, uses the term objective case, while another, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, uses the term accusative case. Similarly, some use the term nominative for the form I, while others use the term subjective. Some authorities use the term genitive for forms such as my where others use the term possessive. Some grammars refer to my and mine, respectively, as the dependent genitive and the independent genitive, while others call my a possessive adjective and mine a possessive pronoun.
  2. ^ Other pronouns may be capitalized when referring to the Deity ("God's in His heaven") and, of course, when beginning a sentence. The capitalization of the first person pronoun is distinctive of English, although it is common in other languages to capitalize a second person pronoun, for example Sie in German.


  1. ^ Fowler 2015.
  2. ^ Lass, Roger, ed. (1999). The Cambridge history of the English Language: Volume III 1476–1776. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)
  3. ^ a b "i | Origin and meaning of the name i by Online Etymology Dictionary" . www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  4. ^ OED online.
  5. ^ Hogg, Richard, ed. (1992). The Cambridge history of the English language: Volume I The beginnings to 1066. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ a b Blake, Norman, ed. (1992). The Cambridge history of the English Language: Volume II 1066–1476. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ a b "me | Search Online Etymology Dictionary" . www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  8. ^ a b "mine | Origin and meaning of mine by Online Etymology Dictionary" . www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  9. ^ "my | Origin and meaning of my by Online Etymology Dictionary" . www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  10. ^ Huddleston & Pullum 2002.
  11. ^ a b Huddleston & Pullum 2002, pp. 462–463.
  12. ^ Huddleston & Pullum 2002, pp. 462-463.


Further reading

Categories: Modern English personal pronouns | Middle English personal pronouns | Self-reference | English words

Information as of: 03.06.2021 02:38:02 CEST

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