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

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.

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Reflexive Pronouns: Myself, Himself, Herself, Ourselves, and Themselves (Never Theirselves…Let’s Get That Straight in the Title of This Post!)

Myself, Yourself & Themselves

Did you know that there is a group of pronouns called reflexive pronouns? I know, right? Not mentioned that often. I hardly remember studying them in school at all. And yet, we use them all the time—and even eloquent people use them wrong quite often. (How many interviews or speeches have you heard someone say, “Then my friend and myself….” or “He began talking to my friend and myself…” WRONG!

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More Who Vs Whom Practice

Do you remember the two steps for determining whether to use who or whom from the other day? Here they are again followed by more practice sentences!
I hope you are one who uses who and whom correctly and not one whom others talk about concerning your grammar!
(Who uses who and whom correctly? HE does. /Who do others talk about? Others talk about HIM!)

To tell whether you need to use who or whom, you have to do two steps, and the second step is rather laborious:

1. Remember the little trick from earlier:

he/who
him/whom

2. Then reword the sentence so that you can answer the question with he or him–and use the who or whom that goes with your answer (he/who and him/whom).



                                                   
1.   They didn’t say who/whom was going to lead the group.
a. Who did they not say was going to lead the group?
b. They did not say HE was going to lead the group.
c. They didn’t say WHO was going to lead the group. (He/Who)

2. I hope that whomever/whoever wins will be good for the job.
a. Who do you hope will be good for the job?
b. You hope that HE will be good for the job?
c. I hope that WHOever wins will be good for the job. (He/Who)

3. I think that we should ask whoever/whomever arrives first.
a. Who will arrive first?
b. HE will arrive first.
c. I think that we should ask WHOever arrives first. (He/Who)

4. Give honor to whom/who honor is due.
a. Who should we give honor to?
b. We should give honor to HIM.
c. Give honor to WHOM honor is due.(Him/Whom)

5. I didn’t think he was one whom/who could carry out the job.
a. Who could carry out the job?
c. HE could carry out the job.
c. I didn’t think he was one who could carry out the job. (He/Who)

6. I didn’t pass it to the one who/whom they said I should.
a. Who did you not pass it to?
b. I did not pass it to HIM.
c. I didn’t pass it to the one WHOM they said I should. (Him/Whom)

He/Who; Him/Whom

The who/whom question is a tricky one. Part of it sounds easy–use who in the subjective position–when you are talking about the subject. Or use who any time you could use he–he/who.

Use whom in the objective position–when you are talking about any object (object of the preposition, direct object, indirect object, etc.). Or use whom any time you could use him–him/whom.

But the problem is a little bigger than that because you can’t just take who out and substitute he and hear the correctness:

Is Ray the one who is coming to dinner?

Is Ray the one he is coming to dinner?

Actually, to tell whether you need to use who or whom, you have to do two steps, and the second step is rather laborious:

1. Remember the little trick from above:

he/who
him/whom

2. Then reword the sentence so that you can answer the question with he or him–and use the who or whom that goes with your answer (he/who and him/whom).

I’m going to walk through several of these to help you because it takes a while to do this automatically and correctly:


1. She is the one who doesn’t care.
      a. Who is the one who doesn’t care?
      b. He is the one who doesn’t care (not Him is the one…).
      c. So use WHO (He/Who)

2. It was that girl who stole the candy.
    a. Who stole the candy?
    b. He  stole the candy (not Him is the one…)
    c. So use WHO.(He/Who)

3. I have never seen anyone who could type that fast.
   a. Who could type that fast?
   b. He could type that fast (not Him could type that fast..)
   c. So use WHO (He/Who)

4. I just want whomever is the very best to win.
   a. Who do you want to win?
   b. I want him to win (not I want HE to win..)
  c. So use WHOM (Him/Whom)

5. We will be there at the door to greet whomever.

   a. Who will you greet at the door?
   b. You will greet him at the door (not greet HE at the door…)
   c. So use whomever (Him/Whom)

6. She should just tell whomever.
   a. Who should she tell?
   b. She should tell him.(not tell HE..)
   c. So use whomever (Him/Whom)

More tomorrow! 

Day 125: Subjective and Objective Pronouns Part II of II

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 with the subjective and objective pronoun does not occur when only one pronoun is present (though I do occasionally hear someone say something like, “Them aren’t ripe yet…”

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 Test”: 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 Test” would help), you can run into problems with pronoun use.

Use the “Single Pronoun Test” when you are unsure—and you will almost always “hear” the correct way to write it/speak it.

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