Inclusive pronouns

Pronouns are among those morphological classes that can express an inclusive/exclusive distinction, alongside possessive determiners, possessive affixes, and verb conjugation. In languages with this distinction, the inclusive form includes the listener in the first-person plural (“we”), while the exclusive form does not. The category into which a language falls is determined by examining the singular and plural forms of its first-person pronoun. With the exception of languages in the +AltNum type, any intermediate numbers (such as dual) are affected as well.


NoPl1: First-person plural is not expressed by a distinct grammatical form. (The phrase “you and I” may serve the function of “we,” for example.)

Pl1=Sg1: First person has no number distinction and can only be distinguished by context.

Pl1=Pl1: Number distinction exists for the first-person, but inclusive and exclusive are not distinguished.

Pl1Incl: Inclusive first-person plural is distinguished by its own form, while exclusive first-person plural requires the singular pronoun.

Pl1Excl: Exclusive first-person plural is distinguished by its own form, while inclusive first-person plural requires the singular pronoun.

Pl1InclNotExcl: Distinct forms of the first-person plural exist to express inclusive and exclusive variants.

+AltNum: This value is added to another one if at least one number distinction beyond singularplural exists, and the inclusiveexclusive distinction is handled differently here than it is in the plural.[1]


[1] Many languages mark inclusivity distinctions in the dual as well, resulting in five distinct pronouns in the first person. For minimal inclusive (also known as minimal augmented) forms, only the inclusive differs from the first-person singular form. In rare cases, the opposite may also occur, in which case only the DuExcl differs from the first-person singular pronoun. Languages with trial (three) and paucal (slightly more than two or three) numbers may mark inclusivity on these forms as well. Some of these language use unit-augmented systems, with only inclusive forms distinguished in the trial. All such cases fall under the +AltNum value, which appears alongside another value, with further details to be found in the commentary.