Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt    

Lesson 8: The Quarrel Between Mr. Pronoun and Mr. Adjective, and Little Interjection

It is sad to tell that nearly the first thing Mr. Adjective did when he was set free was to have a quarrel with Pronoun.
Mr. Adjective vs. Mr. Pronoun

When the Judge came into court the next day he found them both much excited.

"It is mine, I know it is," said Pronoun.

"And I know it is mine," cried Adjective. "I'll ask the Judge if it is not."

"I'll ask him, too," said My lord," he continued, coming forward, "her is mine, and Adjective wants to take it from me. But when I claimed it in court before, he said nothing about it."

"I thought the more," returned Adjective, "but I supposed that you would give it up quietly without all this fuss in court."

"I would willingly give it up if it were yours," said Pronoun; "but it is not."

"It is," cried Adjective, angrily; "I tell you it is.

"Silence!" said the Judge, sternly. "Brother Parsing, be kind enough to question both Adjective and Pronoun, that we may know the cause of this quarrel, and hear what each has to say for himself."

"Certainly, my lord," answered Serjeant Parsing. "Adjective, what words do you claim?"

"My, thy, his, her, its, our, your, and their" replied Adjective.

"Well, Mr. Pronoun, tell us how you make them out to be yours."

"Nothing is easier," answered Pronoun. "These words stand instead of nouns, and therefore, they must be pronouns. When you say 'my thumb,' my lord, you mean Judge Grammar's thumb, so my stands instead of the noun Judge Grammar. And when you say, 'Little Bo-peep has lost her sheep,' you mean little Bo-peep's sheep, therefore, her stands instead of little Bo-peep. So my and her are clearly pronouns; and thy, his, its, our, your, their, axe used in just the same way, and therefore, must be pronouns too."

"It would seem so," said the Judge. "What has Mr. Adjective to say to that?"

"I will soon tell you, my lord," replied Adjective. "You will, of course, allow that an adjective is a word that may be used before a noun, to tell something about the thing that the noun names. It has been said that if you can put thing or things after a word, that word (not counting a or the, of course) is sure to be an adjective; as, a good thing, a bad thing, large things, little things, and so on. Well, I am sure you can say my thing, thy thing, his thing, her thing, its thing, our thing, your thing, and their thing. Therefore, my, thy, his, her, its, our, your, and their, must be adjectives."

"H'm! It is all very well to say must," remarked the Judge, "but then Pronoun says they must be pronouns. Are there any more of your words, Mr. Pronoun, that Adjective claims in the same way?"

"My lord," answered Pronoun, "he claims all the words of mine that may be used before a noun. This, that, these, and those, for instance."

"Of course, I do," said Adjective; "for when you say this bird, that horse, these rabbits, those people; this, that, these, and those are clearly used with a noun, but do not stand instead of one."

"Ah!" said Pronoun, "but when you say 'look at this,' 'take that,' 'may I have these?' and 'burn those.' This, that, these, and those are not used with a noun, but clearly stand instead of one, and therefore, they are pronouns."

"It seems to me," said the Judge, half to himself, "that sometimes they are adjectives, and sometimes they are pronouns."

"That is just what I say, my lord," cried Adjective, "and if you will allow it, I think I know of a way that will make peace between us directly. Let us call them Adjective-Pronouns, and have them between us. When they are used, not with a noun, but instead of one, then Pronoun may have them all to himself; but when they are used like adjectives, before a noun, then we will have them between us, and call them Adjective-Pronouns."

"That seems very fair," replied the Judge, "and I certainly allow it. Mr. Pronoun, be kind enough to give us a list of your words, and Mr. Adjective will point out any that may be used as Adjective-Pronouns."

So Mr. Pronoun began: "I, thou, he, she, it, we, you, they, mine, thine, his, hers, its, ours, yours, theirs; my, thy, his, her, its, our, your, their."

"Those last eight are between us," said Adjective, "for they can all be used before a noun."

"Myself, thyself, himself, herself, itself ourselves, yourselves, or yourself, themselves," said Pronoun, with a little toss of his head, "those, at least, are all mine, Mr. Adjective."

"Continue repeating your words, sir," said the Judge, sternly; "do not stop to talk."

"This, that, these, those," continued Pronoun.

"Adjective-pronouns, all four of them," remarked Mr. Adjective; "we have shown that already."

"Each, either, neither, one, other," continued Pronoun.

"Stop," said the Judge; "we have not had these words before. You must give us some sentences to show that they are pronouns."

Pronoun replied:

Two sparrows had a fight today,

Each wished to take a worm away;

One pulled at it, so did the other.

Neither would yield it to his brother.

Had either given up at least,

His brother would have had the feast;

But while they fought a thrush came by,

And with the worm away did fly.

"There, my lord," continued Pronoun, "all the words, each, one, other, neither, either, stand for sparrow in those lines, and as sparrow is a noun, they must be pronouns."

"They are adjective-pronouns sometimes," remarked Mr. Adjective, "for you can say, 'each boy,' 'the other day,' 'on either side.'"

"Certainly," said the Judge. "Have you any more, Mr. Pronoun?"

"Who, which, what," continued Pronoun.

"You must show that they are pronouns," said the Judge.

"'Here is the man who shot the tiger,'" said Pronoun. "'Here are two apples; which do you choose?' 'I know what I want.' Who stands instead of the man, because you could say, 'Here is the man; the man shot the tiger.' Which stands instead of one of the apples, and what stands instead of the thing that I want, whatever it may be."

"Yes," said Serjeant Parsing. "But if who and what are used to ask questions, as, 'who is there?' 'what is that?' then what do who and what stand instead of?"

"If you will answer the questions, and tell me who was really there, and what that really was, then I will tell you what nouns who and what stand instead of; but if you do not know any answer to your own questions, then of course I cannot tell you what noun my little pronouns stand for; I can only tell you they stand instead of something, and therefore, are pronouns."

"Which and what are used before nouns sometimes," cried Adjective: "'which way are you going?' 'what bell is that?' therefore, they are adjective-pronouns too."

"At any rate," said Pronoun, haughtily, "who is altogether mine, for you cannot say, 'who way,' 'who book,' 'who man,' or anything of that sort."

"Hoo! hoo! hoo! ha! ha! ha! he! he! he!" cried a voice among the crowd. "Old Adjective beaten! hurrah! bravo!"

Everyone in the court looked round to see where such strange sounds came from.

"It is Interjection," said Serjeant Parsing, angrily, making a dive at the crowd behind him, to try and catch hold of someone in it."

"Critics," cried the Judge, "seize that fellow, and bring him here."

But that was more easily said than done, for little Interjection was as quick and active as any street boy in London. He dodged in and out amongst the other Parts-of-Speech, and was here, there, and everywhere, till at last he tumbled up against Serjeant Parsing, who held him fast till the Critics came up. He is such an odd little creature, that you could hardly tell what he is like. One moment he is crying bitterly, and the next he is in fits of laughter; when you look at him again he is perhaps shrieking for fear, and in another minute he is standing on his head for joy. He is so fond of standing on his head, that people say he had his portrait taken so once (!), and that is why they put a note of exclamation (!) after his words; but that is all nonsense, of course.

"Interjection!" said the Judge, sternly, "you are the last of all the Parts- of-Speech, and have no business to interrupt the court now. Let me not hear you again until your turn comes."

"Alas! alas!" cried Interjection, wringing his hands. "Mr. Parsing says I am only a poor little fellow thrown in (that is what my name interjection means, thrown in), to express surprise or fear, joy or sorrow. When folks do not know what to say next, one of my little words pops in, and poor Mr. Parsing is at his wit's end to know what to do with it, ah! ah! Off! off!" he cried, changing his tone, and suddenly jerking himself out of the policeman's hold. "Away! away!" he shouted, springing to the door; and before they could catch him he was indeed away, and they heard his "ha! ha! ha!" die away in the distance.

Serjeant Parsing then turned to the Schoolroom-shire folks, and asked them to mark off on their slates places for Mr. Noun, Pronoun, Adjective, and little Article, and a corner somewhere for tiresome Interjection; and while he read to them, to put down a stroke in the right place for each word that they knew. "And when you come to an adjective-pronoun used with a noun," continued Serjeant Parsing, "put a stroke on the line that divides Adjective's ground from Pronoun's. That will be like a little man sitting astride on the wall, with one leg for Pronoun to pull and one for Adjective. Of course, if it is used instead of a noun, and not with one, then Mr. Pronoun must have the stroke all to himself. Whichever Part-of-Speech gets the most strokes gains the game."

You may find Serjeant Parsing's story for tallying in the Lesson Guide.

    Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt    

Lesson 8: The Quarrel Between Mr. Pronoun and Mr. Adjective, and Little Interjection


Over the two weeks:

  • Read or review the lesson each week.
  • Complete the assigned enrichment activities for each week.


The court learns that some words, such as my, thy, his, her, its, our, your, and their may be used as either adjectives or pronouns. Mr. Adjective and Mr. Pronoun decide to call these words Adjective-Pronouns and share them.


Activity - Week 1: PARSE THE STORY

Examine the beginning of Serjeant Parsing's Story and add up the Parts-of-Speech as described in the story. Who wins Part I?


  • 'Alas! alas! that naughty boy,' said Harry's mother, as she waited for him to come back from school.
  • 'He must have gone to play with the other boys at the big pond, and he will certainly fall in, for the boys are sure to try the ice, and it is too thin to bear them yet.
  • Oh! my poor, dear boy! what shall I do?
  • If he falls into the black, cold water, he will certainly be drowned.
  • My darling Harry! ah! why does he not come home?
  • If I had anyone to send...


Examine the conclusion of Serjeant Parsing's Story and add up the Parts-of-Speech as described in the story. Who wins the conclusion, and who wins overall?


  • Why, there he is, I declare, with his hands full of oranges.
  • Oh! the naughty boy!
  • I will give him a great scolding.
  • To give me a fright, and keep me waiting while he was buying oranges!
  • Harry, you are a naughty, careless, tiresome...
  • What! kissing me, you little rogue, to stop my mouth.
  • There! there! do not pull down my hair, and never give your poor mother such a fright again; and now come in and see the lovely Christmas-box I have for you.