“my” as possessive pronoun

A discussion on one of the listservs revolves around whether the neat categorization of ’my’ as a possessive adjective and ’mine’ as a possessive pronoun holds up, esp in comparison with other languages like Spanish.

I had a hard time seeing ’my’ as a pronoun. Perhaps I was influenced by other languages which have various adjectival endings for ’my’ as well as for other… possessives. When I looked for a traditional categorization, I found an old book which said ’my’ was a possessive adjective, but under the heading ’pronoun’ listed it there, too. Later the same book referred to ’my’ as a “pronominal adjective”.

To my mind, there was always a clear distinction between personal pronouns like “I”, “me”, possessive pronouns like “mine”, and possessive adjective like “my”. Apparently no such clear distinction exists, with some author reflecting my understanding, and others a different way of categorizing these words.

So there is an example where being on these lists can help us clarify basic facts about our profession of language teacher.

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