Lesson 6 - Pronouns (Part 1)

Let’s learn how to say ‘I, you, he, she and it’ in Arabana.

Refer to the glossary at the end of this lesson to learn the meaning of some of grammatical terms used in this lesson. You can also hover over the highlighted words to see their definitions.

Nominative pronouns

In Arabana there is more than one way of saying ‘I, you, he, she and it’.

Here is the first set of Arabana pronouns. These are called nominative pronouns.

Arabana
English
antha
I
anpa
you
uka
he/she/it

Ergative pronouncs

Here is the second set of Arabana pronouns. These are called ergative pronouns.

athu
I
antu
you
ukaru
he/she/it

You will need to choose the right pronoun when you are making sentences in Arabana.

Here's an explanation about how to know which pronouns to use in a sentence.

Nominative

If the action word (verb) in the sentence is intransitive and does not need any other word (object) in order to make sense, then you will use the nominative pronoun.

For example:

Antha wadlampurru
I am hungry.

No object needs to follow the action word (verb) wadlampurru ‘hungry’ in order for the sentence to make sense.

Ergative

If the action word (verb) in the sentence is transitive and has to be accompanied by another word (object) in order to make sense, then you will use the ergative pronoun.

For example:

Antu puntyu tharnirnda?
Are you eating meat?

The action word (verb) tharnirnda ‘eat’ must be accompanied by the object puntyu ‘meat’ in order to makes sense.

The sentence anpa tharnirnda? (are you eating?) does not make sense in Arabana.

Some examples

Here are some example sentences using the nominative and the ergative pronouns.

Yukarnda ‘going’ and tharnirnda ‘eating’ are both action words (verbs).

Puntyu ‘meat’ is the object in the ergative sentences.

Looking at the sentences below, can you tell which sentences are using the nominative pronouns, and which are using the ergative pronouns?

Antha yukarnda.
I am going.
Athu puntyu tharnirnda.
I am eating meat.
Anpa yukarnda?
Are you going?
Antu puntyu tharnirnda?
Are you eating meat?
Uka yukarnda.
He is going.
Ukaru puntyu tharnirnda.
He is eating meat.

Glossary

Pronoun
Words which refer to a person or a thing in a sentence, i.e. you, I, he, she, it
Verbs
This is any word which describes an action, such as eat, laugh, talk, walk, etc.
Subject
This is the person or thing in the sentence that is doing the action.
Object
This is the person or thing in the sentence which is having something done to it by the subject.
Intransitive
This is a verb which can’t take an object in a sentence.
Transitive
This is a verb which can take an object in a sentence.
Nominative pronoun
This is a pronoun which is used when there is an intransitive verb in the sentence.
Ergative pronoun
This is a pronoun which is used when there is a transitive verb in the sentence.