English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
  • YES: "Euthanizing this particular kitten was a traumatic, albeit humane necessity."

  • NO: "The geese, having pooped everywhere, made for hideous pets, albethem delicious as an entree."

  • NO: "Most of the pigs were oblivious, albethose closer to the pen showed increasing anxiety."

Why does albeit have no pronoun kin? (Albeshe, albethis, etc.)

share|improve this question
For the same reason that he is not cold outside today. – JeffSahol Apr 24 '12 at 18:31
Right, albethat not exactly what I asked. lol. – alex gray Apr 24 '12 at 19:09
Actually Jeff is spot on. "It's cold outside today" is probably the canonical example of the dummy pronoun at work. – RegDwigнt Apr 24 '12 at 19:21
Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/58329/… – Kris May 6 '12 at 7:07

Because the it in albeit is the "dummy it". It's a contraction of "although be it that". There is no such thing as a "dummy them" or a "dummy those" in English.

share|improve this answer
Yes, it's/*they're a long way to Tipperary and a long way to Kerry. – John Lawler Apr 24 '12 at 18:40
The it may be a dummy, but is albe for real? Is "albe" a prefix? Only because it joins with it? I'm unaware of it. – Kris Apr 24 '12 at 18:53
@AngloSaxon: asterisks are used by linguists to indicate that what's following is ungrammatical. – RegDwigнt Apr 24 '12 at 19:12
@John Lawler: Agreed it's a slightly odd construction, but I don't really have a problem with "He gave me it". Nor is it obvious to me why "it" should be different to "this" - and I certainly can't see any problem at all with "They gave me this". – FumbleFingers Apr 24 '12 at 20:53
OK, if those don't move you, how about a Ross Constraint violation: *That's the book that Bill married the woman who illustrated. – John Lawler Apr 24 '12 at 22:34

Albeit is a contraction of although be it that, meaning something like although it is the case that. So:

  • That's a cool handbag, albeit expensive


  • That's a cool handbag, although it is the case that it is expensive


  • Those are cool handbags, albeit expensive


  • Those are cool handbags, although it is the case that they are expensive

As RegDwight states, the it in albeit is a dummy subject; it is not an anaphoric (backward) reference to any specific noun in the preceding expression. This is why words such as albeshe do not exist.

share|improve this answer
It's sort of like French's "Qu'est-ce que c'est", which I always found obscene to write, but sexy and useful to say. – alex gray Apr 25 '12 at 5:21

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.