Pro-forms

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This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, or tell me)

A pro-form is a word that can be used as a replacement to avoid redundancy without removing meaning from a sentence.


Its best known example is the pronoun.

With some mental flexibility, you can also see pro-verbs and even pro-sentences - consider "Yes.".

For adjectives and adverbs it is harder to demonstrate.


Pronoun

See Pronoun.

Pro-verb

In "Can I kick it? Yes, you can.", you can say that 'can' is a replacement of the previous sentence. Or that the omission of a subject implies that reference.

The second sentence is understood as "Yes, you can kick it."


It itself is also a pro-form, specifically a pronoun, a reference to whatever it is we are supposed to be kicking.

Pro-sentence

A pro-sentence refers to one or a few words referring to an entire sentence or a large part of it.

In english, an extreme case is the answer "Yes." It's not a valid independent sentence, but an an answer to the first sentence before, meaning something like "Yes, you can kick it."


This could be seen as a forceful stretch preferred by those for whom analysis depends on sentences having all basic parts. In discourse analysis - which is probably the most useful for uttered dialogue anyhow - this is not necessarily necessary.

See also