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The Pronoun Problem

Copyright © 2002-2005, 2008, 2009 by David E. Ross

Would you say: "Her went to the store with I."?

If not, then why do I see: "Betty and her went to the store with George and I."?

While it might seem artificial and pedantic, writers must learn how to use the nominative and objective cases of pronouns.

Nominative Objective Possessive
Use as the subject of a sentence. Who does this? Use as the object of a sentence. To whom is this done? Use as the object of a preposition: to, from, with, for, etc Use to show ownership. Whose is this?
Imemy, mine
weusour, ours
youyouyour [not you're], yours
sheherher, hers [not her's]
ititits [not it's]
theythemtheir [not there or they're], theirs [not their's]

If you continue to write sentences such as "Sam and me threw the ball to Bill and he", your readers can only conclude you are illiterate. That is no better than writing "Us threw the ball to they".

(Hint: If you do not understand what is wrong with the above paragraph, read it aloud.)

Here is another one. It's obviously wrong to say:

He … gets we to sit next to each other.
Why then do I see:
He … gets Pete and I to sit next to each other.
The bold I and we are both nominative where objective pronouns are required.

On the other hand, I have also seen

Him and I are complete opposites!
with nominative and objective pronouns mixed. Here, the nominative case is correct:
He and I are complete opposites!

Between is a preposition just as are to, from, and with. It takes only objective pronouns.

Things between Chris and I would get complicated.
should be
Things between Chris and me would get complicated.

… you can live here with Teddy and I.
No, no, no! It should be
… you can live here with Teddy and me.
Just remove Teddy from the thought. Then, you will see that
… you can live here with I.
is quite wrong.

Inverting the word order of a sentence for emphasis does not change the need to use the proper case of pronouns.

He my parents would definitely disapprove of.

Here, the writer wanted to emphasize disapproval of a particular individual and thus placed the pronoun at the beginning of the sentence. Putting the words in normal order, however, reveals that the wrong case was used:

My parents would definitely disapprove of he.

Updated 11 January 2009

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