I am working on a conlang and would like to treat "I" or "me" or "myself" as one thing, "me", as a noun I guess. Are there languages that do this, that don't have these distinctions? If so, what are some key examples? As a bonus, what are some things they do instead, or where can I look for more information?

I want to say something like:

me - see - tree
me - see - the - tree

But have it sound, well, not so caveperson like. So wondering if other languages do this, and how they can "cope" without these distinctions/features.

  • 4
    I think it only sounds 'caveperson-like' because it is wrong in English. In a foreign language that wouldn't be the case, eg (assuming you don't speak German): Mich sehen den Baum. Sounds cave-like to me, but probably not to people who don't speak it. Dec 8, 2021 at 9:32

2 Answers 2


There are many languages without case distinctions on their pronouns. Mandarin, Japanese, and Arabic are some especially prominent examples (although Arabic does have special clitic pronouns that can be attached to verbs to mark the object).

To someone who speaks one of these languages, the lack of case does not sound at all cave-man-ish.


To add on to Tristan's answer, most Bantu languages also lack case.

In Swahili, for example, mimi can mean either "I" or "me", yeye either "he" or "him" (or "she" or "her" or…), and so on. Word order makes the relationship clear: objects come after the verb, subjects come before. So even ignoring agreement marking, it's clear that mimi ninapenda yeye means "I love him", not "he loves me".

Swahili also allows pronouns to be incorporated into the verb itself, as an alternate way of indicating subjects and objects. For example, in ninampenda, the ni means the subject is first person singular, and the m means the object is third person singular: again clearly "I love him" rather than "he loves me".

English has a few lingering relics of case marking on pronouns, but if you look at nouns, it should be clear that they're not really necessary. In a sentence like "the scientist loves the engineer", there's no case marking at all, but it's completely unambiguous who's the subject and who's the object. The fact that we still have different forms for "I" versus "me" is more a historical accident than anything that actually carries functional load.

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