I just saw a sentence "Stop stealing from firefighters, who are trying to save the province. Have some respect for us on the line". As far as I'm concerned, pronouns such as 'he', 'she', 'us' cannot be modified by any word in English. But it seems like in that sentence, "On the line" modifies "us" to me. So I'm not sure how to interpret the sentence. Does "on the line" modifies "us"..? in other words, Should I interpret it like "Have some respect for (those of) us (who are) on the line"? or "On the line, Have some respect for us"??

Thank you!

  • 1
    Though pronouns don't take modifiers in general, there are some non restrictive modifiers that can modify a personal pronoun. Here "us" is being modified by a non restrictive modifier (a preposition phrase - "on the line") Jul 24, 2021 at 8:19
  • His shirt smells gross; your name will be Slim Shady. These are examples of a personal pronoun being modified. Jul 24, 2021 at 12:34
  • Why do you want to modify a personal pronoun? he, she, they//him, her, us. "For us on the line" is speech, and yes, it means: for those of us who are on the line.
    – Lambie
    Jul 24, 2021 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


Should I interpret it like "Have some respect for (those of) us (who are) on the line"?

That's how I would interpret it. Though rare, there are some circumstances in which a personal pronoun can be modified:

  • You over there, stop talking!
  • He who claims to predict the future is a liar.
  • We students are anxious about the exam.
  • 2
    We students is not a modifier. It is an apposition.
    – Lambie
    Jul 24, 2021 at 16:58
  • 1
    Whatever the terminology, it is interesting that 1st and 2nd person plural pronouns can be elaborated with a plural noun, but other personal pronouns cannot (*They students are anxious about the exam).
    – nschneid
    Jul 24, 2021 at 17:12
  • They, the students, are anxious. But not: They students.
    – Lambie
    Jul 24, 2021 at 17:50

Have some respect for us [who are] on the line

This is an example of whiz-deletion, where a relative pronoun (who, which...) and a be-verb are omitted from a sentence. In this case, the omitted words are "who are".

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