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Pronoun Tips

Pronouns take the place of nouns.

Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they

Object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, them

Rule: Use a subject pronoun, not only as the subject of a sentence, but after to be verbs when the pronoun renames the subject.

To be
verbs:
is, are, was, were, will be, may be, may have been, etc.

Example: He is my friend.
He is the subject of the sentence, so use a subject pronoun.

Example: Enrique and she are friends.
Enrique and she are the subjects of the sentence.

Example:
It is I who called.
I comes after the to be verb is and renames the subject it. Therefore, use the subject pronoun.

Rule: Use an object pronoun when the pronoun is the direct object, the indirect object, or the object of the preposition.

Example: Ella met him at the restaurant.
Him is the direct object.

Example: Ella will give him his money back.
Him is an indirect object because you can mentally put the word to in front of it. Money is the direct object.

Example: Between you and me, this will never work.
You and me are the objects of the preposition between.

Rule: Use reflexive pronouns—myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves—to refer back to another noun or pronoun in the sentence.

Correct: I did it myself.

Incorrect: Please give it to Butri or myself.
In this sentence, myself does not refer back to another noun or pronoun.

Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007, at 1:05 am


22 Comments

22 Responses to “Pronoun Tips”

  1. annoyed says:

    A usage of the pronouns him and her that I hear all the time in my line of work (medical field) is as follows.

    “We’re going to get blood work on him.” or “We got an x-ray on her.”

    It makes me think along the lines of “you’re going to get it all over him?” “you attached it to her?”, or “you’re going to sit on him (were sitting on her) to do it?”

    Ugh.

    • Jane says:

      I can understand how this may be the equivalent of fingers on a chalkboard for you. Many professions have their own jargon that, to outsiders, sounds strange or wrong. Sometimes, groups create jargon to distinguish themselves as a group. You’re either “in” or “out” depending on your knowledge and usage of particular words and phrases. One of the functions of language is to discern tribal membership.

  2. Lisa says:

    A friend always says, ” Her and me” , “Him and me”, “Her and I”, and “Him and I” is this correct?

    • Jane says:

      “Her and me” or “him and me” are correct if they are objects in a sentence, such as, “Bob gave the same advice to her and me (or him and me).” But they are not correct if they are the subjects of the sentence. Incorrect example: “Him and me went to the movies together.” “Her and I” and “him and I” mix an object pronoun (“her” or “him”) with a subject pronoun (“I”) and are not correct in any context I can think of.

  3. Casey says:

    Do you really have to give __________ the best chocolates from the box?

    Which one should I use.

    A) Al and she
    B) She and Al
    C) Al and her

    • Jane says:

      You need to use the object pronoun which is “her.” An easy way to discover if you are using the right pronoun is to try your sentence without using the word “Al.” You would say, “Do you really have to give her the best chocolates in the box?”

      Do you really have to give Al and her the best chocolates in the box?

  4. Lucy says:

    I am having a running disagreement with a colleague. Can ‘she’ ever be deemed both a pronoun and a noun?

  5. Alechia says:

    I am annoyed at the morning newscasters on a local news program who constantly report the news as such: The firemen they worked hard to put out the fire or The police they are still are searching… or The victim she is resting at home… Either way, I know this is incorrect. You do not word the pronoun immediatedly after the antecedent. I know the pronoun must have an antecedent, but not immediately before the pronoun. I want to write and tell them this, but I can’t remember the rule…I just know the rule. Please help.

    • Jane says:

      Although we remember our teachers saying never to do this, there is no specific rule addressing it. We can, however, infer from several of our rules in the “Pronouns” section, that it is not grammatically correct. From Rule 1, we learn that a subject pronoun is the subject of the sentence, therefore “The police they … ” is just a redundant statement of the subject. From Rule 2, we learn that subject pronouns can be used to rename the subject but they follow to be verbs; they do not immediately come after the subject.

  6. Ismael Tohari says:

    Thanks a lot for the interesting tips.

    But you didn’t account for a usage like:

    It was us who/whom were hit.

    It is me who/whom will be departed.

    • Jane says:

      The rule in our “Pronoun Tips” blog states, ” Use a Subject Pronoun (also called Nominative Case), not only as the subject of a sentence, but after to be verbs when the pronoun renames the subject.”

      To be verbs: is, are, was, were, will be, may be, may have been
      Both of your examples contain to be verbs (was and is) and the pronoun renames the subject it. Therefore, use the subject pronoun. Also, our “Who vs. Whom” rule states, “Use who when you could replace it with he.”
      It was we who were hit.
      It is I who will be departing. (Use the future tense verb departing rather than the past tense departed.)

  7. Gloria says:

    In test question 11 on finding subjects and verbs-I don’t understand why “one” is the subject instead of rose.

    • Jane says:

      The word one is a pronoun meaning “someone or something that is a part of a particular group.” Roses is the object of the preposition. (You could leave out of the roses and still have a complete sentence: Every one bloomed.)

  8. Maddy says:

    Hi Jane,
    Isn’t this statement used in the example wrong – The cat hurt its paw.

    Cat is a living being. It should be The cat hurt her paw.

  9. Marcus says:

    I wrote something, and both sounded good to me:
    #1. For now, please keep Robert and me in the loop.
    #2. For now, please keep Robert and myself in the loop.
    I used #1 in my email response to a client. Do you agree?

    • Jane says:

      Yes, I agree. Number 2 would have been an incorrect use of a reflexive pronoun since it does not refer back to another noun or pronoun in the sentence.

  10. Eleanor M. says:

    Could you please advise if it was a misprint on page 6 of the blue book where you listed the subject pronoun and object pronouns with both containing the word “it”.

  11. Saba says:

    Hi
    I just want to know if I want to use a pronoun after helping verb should I use the subject verb or object?
    Example
    Have you write your homework?
    The you here stand for what the object or the subject
    Thank you

    • In your example sentence, the pronoun you is the subject. When using the helping verb have, use the past participle written. Your sentence should read “Have you written your homework?” In English it would be more common to use one of the following sentences:

      Have you done your homework?
      Have you finished your homework?

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