Death of the pronoun

Subject pronouns are falling by the wayside, and nobody seems to care.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the evolution of language. Etymology and linguistics are fascinating. I welcome colloquialisms and slang, and I’m not always a stickler for proper grammar, either. For example, when called for, I’ll begin a sentence with the words And or But.

(Yes, I know, that’s living on the edge.)

But lately, pronoun omission has been chipping away at my hope for the future of the English language.

I wonder why these opening pronouns are being discarded. Why is the pronoun going the way of the dodo bird? Why are people leaving out these words?

Is it an effort at humility? Does “Would love to know what you think” take the focus off of the speaker and place it onto the person with whom he is speaking? As in, “It’s not so much that you should tell me your thoughts because I, as Mr. Awesome, want to know them, but rather that your thoughts are important and should be heard.” Or is that too technical? Am I analyzing too much?

Maybe these subject pronouns are dropping like flies because people are lazier than they used to be. It’s kind of like in text messages, when a person’s fingers are too tired to type out full words and sentences and resort to shortcuts like:

c u soon





Or maybe dropping pronouns is along the lines of how it is on Facebook, when people only have enough time to write “hbd” on the birthday girl’s wall. Or, a “BDE” when someone passes away, as if writing three words (Baruch Dayan ha’Emet) exerts so much more energy than three letters. As if we can’t get any more impersonal than a “BDE” on a Facebook wall.

And don’t get me started on emojis.

I’m probably being unfair. People learn to speak the way those around them speak. It’s nothing intentional. It just is.

What I’m trying to understand, though, is how this particular change started. Who started dropping the subject pronoun? Who was the first person to say “See ya soon!” and how many people did it take to follow in kind until “See ya soon” became the norm?

Maybe people think that a sentence without a subject pronoun sounds more fluid. Could that be the reason? Personally, I think leaving out the pronoun sounds too rushed, like the speaker wants to get the sentence out and over with.

The act of dropping subject pronouns also has made its way into the business world. I have no idea how that happened. It’s one thing to omit pronouns in speech. It’s another thing altogether when pronouns are omitted when they are written down, particularly in emails, and more specifically in professional correspondence.

Omission from the written language is more noticeable than from the spoken word because these days we live in such a text-based world. I cringe at phrases in emails like, “Glad you thought the meeting went well” or “Would love to talk about it later” or — one to which I’ve certainly fallen prey — ”Looking forward to seeing you soon!”

Come on, people. I understand the desire to increase morale by creating a more casual work environment—but dress-down Friday has no place in sentence structure.

Look, language evolves, I get it. Ye Olde English becomes New English. Some languages meld into each other and form new languages (German+Hebrew=Yiddish). One language borrows from another. How many words in the English language derive from Latin? Did the Romans foresee this poaching of words, and had they seen, would they have minded? And I’d imagine, as another example, that some people in the U.K. might view American English as the bastardization of a perfectly good language.

Over time, yes, old rules are discarded. For example, the rule not to end a sentence with a preposition was borrowed from the Latin, and in English it may sound kind of snobbish. Combine that with the use of the word “whom” and you’ve got a double dose of elitism.

Think of it this way. Upon answering the phone, few people today ask, “To whom am I speaking?” Come to think of it, the person answering the phone might even forgo “Who am I talking to?” and simply say “Who’s this?”

(Or, as I might answer when a telemarketer calls during bedtime, “Hey there, can you let me know when you’re putting your kids in for the night so that I can call you at the exact moment they’ve finally quieted down?”)

Old rules and words are discarded and indeed, over time, new words are added. In January 2018, for example, the words selfie, mansplain, and babymoon were added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

So fine, language has been evolving forever. And maybe there’s always been some opposition to these changes. Maybe dropping subject pronouns from sentences only bothers me because it’s a change-in-progress. It’s happening right now. We’re caught in the middle of the pronoun’s demise, bearing witness to it being shoved overboard, yet unable to prevent it from plunging to its death.

When it comes to sentences, im not interested in rushing thru my words. I like pronouns and dont want 2C them go. Not interested in shortcuts. Subject pronouns help clarify meaning of sentiments. IMHO, sound more confident 2. Will be a sad day for the English language when pronouns become obsolete.

About the Author
Dena Croog is a writer and editor in Teaneck, New Jersey, whose work has focused primarily on psychiatry, mental health, and the book publishing industry. She is the founder of Refa’enu, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mood disorder awareness and support. More information about the organization and its support groups can be found at You also can email with any questions or comments.