WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, EH? PART 6: GETTING PERSONAL WITH PRONOUNS…

Let’s make this part short and sweet (under 1000 words, we promise!).

We’ll assume you remember that Pronouns replace Nouns. 

1. Personal Pronouns replace the names of people and things. The complete list of personal pronouns is as follows:

                     I, ME, HE, HIM, SHE, HER, WE, US, THEY, THEM, YOU and IT.

2. Like mail, we must be able to sort them into one of three categories; namely number (singular vs. plural), person (first, second or third) and case (subjective or objective).

3. NUMBER: From the above list we can conclude that the following refer to singular people or things: I, ME, HE, HIM, SHE, HER, YOU & IT. Plural forms include WE, US, THEY, THEM & YOU. (Notice ‘YOU’ can refer to singular or plural)

4. PERSON: Think of a someone (person one or first person) entering a room alone. If this first person starts talking to him or herself, which words from the above list are available to him or her? I or ME is correct. Now suppose a second person enters. What is the only word that the first person can say to the second person (keep all nasty thoughts to yourself and choose from the above list)? YOU it is! Finally, if the two people start talking about some guy in the next room, what are the choices? HE or HIM…bingo! And, if it happens to be a girl? SHE or HER...now, we’re getting it! What if it’s a group of people? THEY or THEM…you bet! Suppose it’s a dog, or an alien or a any old thing? IT…yup! If we  listen in to the group of people talking among themselves in the third room, what words would they be using? WE or US...again correct. Finally, if we take a peek inside and talk to the group, which personal pronoun would suit the occasion. YOU…(as mentioned, the pronoun YOU can refer to a single person or group)

5. CASE: Personal pronouns can be used in one of two situations or cases (no, it’s not regular and diet) – we are talking about subject (subjective case) or object (objective case).

Let’s recap! The following chart (trust us, it’s meant to look like one) should help:

NUMBER          PERSON             SUBJECTIVE   OBJECTIVE CASE

SINGULAR           FIRST                            I                          ME

”                          SECOND                       YOU                   YOU

”                          THIRD                            HE                      HIM

”                             ”                                 SHE                    HER

”                         NEUTRAL                       IT                        IT

PLURAL             FIRST                             WE                     US

”                         SECOND                       YOU                    YOU

”                         THIRD                            THEY                   THEM

Let us try to simplify matters for you by giving you a few examples where the correct form of the pronoun is used. We’ll explain why after each. Since you know (or should know) what a bare subject is and that the last word of a prepositional phrase (adjective or adverb) is the object of the preposition, then we’re at least headed in the right direction.

We realize some of this is going to sound completely weird or even foreign to you. We understand. Some of you have been raised on colloquial (informal) English and have seldom heard things spoken or written as they were intended. Relax, take a deep breath, and get a load of the King’s English…

A. She is related to him.  (‘She’ is the bare subject so we use the subjective case; ‘him’ is the object of the preposition ‘to’ so we use the objective case).

B. Split the candy between him and her. (‘him’ and ‘her’ are both used as objects of the preposition ‘between’).

C. She is younger than he. (after a comparison using ‘than‘ or ‘as‘, always use the subjective form. Why? Well, if you were to put the word ‘is’ after ‘he’ it becomes apparent. You wouldn’t say, ‘She is younger than him is.” We’ll talk more about this later.

D. Are you as old as I? (just checking to see if you were paying attention)…again, there’s a comparison so you must choose the subjective form of the pronoun…you would not have said, “Are you as old as me is?”

E. It was they who sent the parcel to them. (‘they’, the subjective form, is correct because it follows the non-action verb or bare predicate ‘was’ and is considered to be a subjective completion. More on subjective completions later…’them’ is the object of the preposition ‘to’.

YOU DON’T MEAN TO SAY…

Me and her went out on a date. Why? (‘me’ and ‘her’ are the bare subjects of the sentence and so we must select from the subjective case…so you would say it this way: She and I went out on a date. (ladies first!)

Him and my dad went to the hockey game. (Yuk! ‘him’ is part of the bare subject, along with ‘dad’, so you must pick from the subjective case. Try it like this: He and my dad went…) Much better!

That’s enough for today…take some time to go over past blogs as many times as you need.   Effort and success go hand in hand. Them are really important. (oops!…We meant ‘they’…honest!)

A few people have asked about when to use ‘who’ or ‘whom’…Before we get there, we’ll need to learn a bit more about the mechanics of our language. Be patient…all in good time,

Cheers,

Bloggingfrog & Lily

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