Pronouns take the place of proper nouns when context allows. However, it seems proper nouns are only ever conjugated in the third person, singular or plural. Is this a rule?

For example, if I'm talking directly to someone named Susan, I could ask her "Do you agree?" However, if I feel I need to specify who I'm specifically talking to, I could choose to by asking "Does Susan agree?". Is it grammatically incorrect to ask "Do Susan agree?"

  • You can definitely ask, Susan, do you agree? Aug 10, 2018 at 4:33

1 Answer 1


It isn't correct to ask "Do Susan agree?" because Susan is one person, while do refers to multiple people. On the other hand, you can refer to one person, or it can refer to multiple people. If you looked at both Susan and Barbara, you could ask them, "Do you agree?" Later, if you forgot the answer, you could ask someone, "Do Susan and Barbara agree?"

I don't know if it's grammatically incorrect, but it's certainly quite awkward to speak to someone and refer to them in the third person, as in "Does Susan agree?" (There are certain exceptions in communities where you speak to elders or others who are very well respected. One example is in certain Orthodox Jewish communities, where one might say, "Does the Rabbi think that...?" but such usage is fairly uncommon.)

  • It is worth noting that in some languages the third person is used, when addressing someone who is not a personal acquaintance. This is true of Italian, for example, though I am sur the customer is fading today. English has never been such a language. But there is another way. We can use a vocative: “Do you agree, Susan?”
    – Tuffy
    Aug 10, 2018 at 14:19
  • 2
    I feel this ignores the crux of the question. It's about the rules of pronouns and proper nouns more than the conjugation. Also "do" is a singular conjugation in many instances, such as "Do I" or "Do you". It's these specific instances to which the question refers, when instead of using the pronoun, a proper noun is substituted. Aug 13, 2018 at 16:10
  • 1
    Do does not “refer to multiple people” – it refers to anything except the third person singular. “I do” and “you [sg.] do” both refer to only one person. Dec 8, 2018 at 22:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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