The Single Pronoun Trick: Key to Unlocking Subjective and Objective Pronouns

“Susie and me are coming at ten.” How many times do we tell our kids (or students) that it should be Susie and I?

 

It sounds simple. Even the rule seems simple: Use I in the subjective position (when used as the sentence’s subject). Use me in the objective position (when used as an object—give it to me).

 

But pronoun use is way more complex than the correcting of our kids when they use me as one of the subjects.

 

This recently came up on one of my FB pages. Here is what the reader posted:

 

“Quick grammar question: My third grader wrote ‘They wanted Helen and me to come to Perkins.’ The teacher corrected it to ‘Helen and I.’ I think my son is right…”

 

My answer was not exactly quick…but here you go:

 

Your son is right! And this is a good place to learn my Single Pronoun Trick. Every student should be taught this trick as it eliminates so many questions.

 

When you have two or more pronouns or pronouns/nouns in combo, always isolate each pronoun and read the part of the sentence with that pronoun alone.

 

It keeps students from having to constantly think “Is that a subjective pronoun or an objective pronoun?” It keeps them from hearing something that doesn’t sound as bad in a group. (It doesn’t sound as bad to say “Give it to Susie, Joe, Tom, and I” as it does to say “Give it to I.”)

 

Without being too heavy on the grammar (which is nearly impossible when talking about writing or speaking, which is why it is important that grammar is paired with writing whenever possible). this post will elaborate on subjective and objective pronouns–and when to use each one.

 

First, we teach our students in our books that a pro-noun is “for a noun”–that is, it often takes the place of a noun. This is the most elementary description of a pronoun and one that is often accurate. (Of course, there are various classes and types of pronouns that can be extremely confusing, but for the instruction in subjective and objective ones, we will stick with the idea that pronouns are FOR nouns.)

 

Most everybody knows that we say I at the beginning of a sentence: I am going to the store.

 

And we say me at the end of a sentence: Give it to me.

 

But do we really know why?

 

The reason is because at the beginning of a sentence, generally speaking (and not utilizing sentence openers before the subject), the first part of a sentence contains the subject.

 

And generally speaking, a word at the end of a sentence is not a subject, but is an object.

 

And we all know that it is wrong to say “Me am going to the store” and “Give it to I.”

 

We usually understand that pronouns that are used as subjects (that is, subjective ones) include, but are not limited to, I, you, he, she, they, we. (Remember, these are used to tell who or what is doing the action–the sentence’s subject.)

 

We also usually understand that pronouns that are used as objects (that is, objective ones) include, but are not limited to, me, you, him, her, them, us.

 

So why do you need to know the difference between subjective and objective pronouns if you are not likely to say Me going to town or Give that to I?).

 

The problem comes when you have two pronouns at or near the beginning of your sentence (subjective pronouns, hopefully!) or two pronouns at or near the end of your sentence (objective pronouns, hopefully!):

 

Subjective:
1. She and I are coming over.
2. He and she are late.

 

Objective:
1. Give that gift to him and her.
2. We will present them and her with a gift later.

“Single Pronoun Trick”: The key to using the correct pronouns in this case is to say each pronoun by itself in the sentence (without the second one) to see if it sounds correct:

1. Correct: She and I are coming over.
a. She is coming over.
b. I am coming over.

2. Incorrect: Her and I are coming over.
a. Her is coming over (wrong!).
b. I am coming over.

3. Correct: Give that gift to him and her.
a. Give that gift to him.
b. Give that gift to her.

4. Incorrect: Give that give to him and she.
a. Give that gift to him.
b. Give that gift to she (wrong!).

 

The problem also occurs with a pronoun and noun combination:

1. Correct: Jon and I are coming over.
a. Jon is coming over.
b. I am coming over.

2. Incorrect: Jon and me are coming over.
a. Jon is coming over.
b. Me is coming over (wrong!).

3. Correct: Give that gift to Jake and her.
a. Give that gift to Jake.
b. Give that gift to her.

4. Incorrect: Give that gift to Jake and she.
a. Give that gift to Jake.
b. Give that gift to she (wrong!).

 

Again, unless you are 100% sure of your subjective and objective pronouns (and even then you might have tricky situations in which the “Single Pronoun Trick” would help), you can run into problems with pronoun use.

 

Use the “Single Pronoun Trick” when you are unsure—and you will almost always “hear” the correct way to write it/speak it.
It works for us with our one hundred-plus “test students” each year in our Character Ink Cottage Classes. So give it a try!

 

Save

Subscribe!

...and download my Kid's Faves list plus get access to my language arts freebies!

Powered by ConvertKit

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This