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May 25, 2021 at 6:54 pm #26236Law GiriKeymaster
Overview of pronoun Case
Only two parts of speech nouns and pronouns, have case. This means that they change from depending on how they are used in a sentence. English has three cases: subjective, objective, and possessive. In the subjective case, the pronoun is used as a subject. It is also known as the nominative case.
I took that picture.
In the objective case, the pronoun is used as an object.
Give the picture to me.
In the possessive case, the pronoun is used to show ownership.
The picture is mine.
The following chart shows the three cases of personal pronouns:
(Pronoun as subject)
(Pronoun as object)
To avoid errors in personal pronoun use, you must understand how to use each case. The rules are explained below. Relax: they’re actually not difficult at all!.
Using the subjective case
Use the subjective case when….
- The pronoun is the subject of a verb.
Sum and (I,me) like to click photographs.
I is the subject of the sentence. Therefore, the pronoun is in the subjective case: correct: “Sam and I like to click photographs.”
When you list two or more subjects, always put yourself last. Therefore, the sentence would read “Sam and I, ”never “I and Sam”
To help determine the correct pronoun, take away the first subject and try each choice. See which one sounds better. For example:
I like to click photographs OR Me like to click photographs.
The first one definitely sounds better.
(Who, Whom) do you believe is the better photographer?
Who is the subject of the verb is. Therefore, the sentence would read, “Who do you believe is the better photographer?”
Ignored interrupting expression such as do you believe, you think, do you suppose (and so on). They do not affect pronoun case.
- The pronoun is a predicate nominative.
A predicate nominative is a noun or pronoun that follows a linking verb and idenfifies or renames the subject. Remember that a linking verb connect a subject to a word that renames it. Linking verbs indicate a state of being (am, is are, etc.), relate to the senses (look, smell, taste.etc), or indicate a condition (appear, seem, become, etc.). In other words, use the subjective case if the pronoun is the complement of the linking verb “to be”.
The person on the terrace was (I, me).
Use I, since the pronoun renames the subject, the person on the terrace.
Correct: “The person on the terrace was I.”
Which is correct “It is I” or “it is me”? Technically, the correct form is “It is I,” since we’re dealing with a predicate nominative. However, “It is me” (and “It is us”) has become increasingly acceptable as standard usage.
Using the Objective Case
Use the objective case when….
- The pronoun is the direct object of a verb.
A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action. (on what the action is performed)
The teacher failed (he, him).
Correct: The teacher failed him.
(Who, whom) did she finally invite to the party?
Correct: she is the subject, the person doing the action. Therefore, the sentence should read “whom did she finally invite to the party?”
Of course, she can invite (whoever, whomever) she wants.
Correct: Of course, she can invite whomever she wants.
When you have a pronoun combined with a noun(such as we family, us family), try the sentence without the noun. You can usually “hear” which pronoun sounds right.
It is always a pleasure for we to attend the reunion.
It is always a pleasure for us to attend the reunion.
The second sentence sounds correct: doesn’t it?
- The pronoun is the indirect object of verb.
An indirect object tells to or for whom something is done. You can tell a word is an indirect object if you can insert to or for before it without changing the meaning. For example:
The book gave (to) my boss and (to) me some new strategies.
The movie gave (we, us) a shock.
Correct: The movie gave us a shock.
- The pronoun is the object of a preposition.
Remember that a preposition is a small word that links a noun or a pronoun following it to another word in the sentence the noun or pronoun is known as the object of the preposition.
Put the sheet over (I, me).
Correct: The pronoun is the object of the preposition over, so the sentence reads: “put the sheet over me.”
Using the Possessive Case
- Use the possessive case to show ownership.
Shweta said that the CD was (her’s, hers).
Correct: Hers, is the correct spelling of the possessive case, which is needed here to express ownership (belonging to her). Therefore, the sentence should read: “shweta said that CD was hers.”
- Use the possessive case before gerunds.
A gerund is a form of a verb that acts as a noun. Gerunds always end in –ing, and they always function as nouns.
(You, Your) sing has been greatly appreciated.
Correct: the gerund singing requires the possessive pronoun your. Therefore, the sentence should read: “your singing has been greatly appreciated.”
Do you mind (my, me) borrowing your cell phone ?
Correct: Do you mind my borrowing your cell phone?
- Use some possessive pronouns alone to show ownership.
This cell phone is mine, not yours.
Three Other Rules for Using Pronouns Here are three more rules that apply to pronouns and case.
- A pronoun used in apposition with a noun is in the same case as the noun.
An appositive phrase is a noun or pronoun that adds information and details. Appositives can often be removed from the sentence, so they are set of with commas. The appositive in the following sentence is underlined.
Two girls, Priya and (she, her), were recommended for scholarship.
Correct: The pronoun must be in the subjective case she) because it is in apposition with the noun girls. Which is in the subjective case? Therefore, the sentence should read: Two girls, Priya and she, were commended for bravery.
Exception: A pronoun used as the subject of an infinitive is in the objective case. For example:
“The Boss wants Anuj and (I, me) to host the show.” the correct pronoun here is me, since it is the subject of the infinitive to host.
Pronouns that express ownership never get an apostrophe. Watch for these possessive pronouns: yours, his hers, its, ours, theirs.
- Use –self forms correctly with reflexive and intensive situations.
As you learned earlier, reflexive pronouns reflect back to the subject. In other words when the subject and object of a sentence refer to the same person or thing, we use a reflexive pronoun as the object rather than a personal pronoun. Compare:
She forced her to visit the doctor. (‘she’ and ‘her’ refer to different people) and
She forced herself to visit the doctor. (‘she’ and ‘herself’ refer to the same person)
Don’t use reflexive pronouns in place of subjects and objects.
The boss and (myself, I) went for a trip.
Correct: Use the pronoun I, not the reflexive form. Therefore, the sentence reads: “The boss and I went for a trip.”
Intensive usage is just like it sounds: adding emphasis, or intensity, to the subject as a way to reinforce the idea that it’s that person who’s involved and not someone else. For example:
You yourself should go there.
I will keep it myself.
The mountain itself caused his fall.
Notice that in each of the other 3 examples the intensive pronoun can be removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence. So it’s not really essential; it just adds emphasis as already mentioned. It’s also known as emphatic pronoun.
- Who is the subjective case; whom is the objective case.
No one will argue that who and whom are the most troublesome pronouns in English.
Even though who and whom were discussed earlier in this chapter, these little words cause such distress that they deserve their own subsection. Let’s start by looking back at our pronoun- use chart.
Now, some guidelines:
Use who or whoever when the pronoun is the subject of a verb.
Who was responsible for this mess?
Use who or whoever when the pronoun is the predicate nominative.
The winner was who?
Use whom or whomever when the pronoun is the direct object of a verb or the object of a preposition.
Whom did he beat up this time?
When deciding between “who” and “whom,” it can be easier if you’re the “M” test. Think of how you would restate the sentence with the pronoun he/him or they/them, and if you use a form that ends in “m”, you need “whom”. For example, in this sentence, you’d say, Did he beat him? You wouldn’t say, Did he beat he. That “him,” in the objective case- with the “m” on the end-is your clue that you need the objective case form “whom” with the “m” on the end. Or you can figure out how you’d answer a who/whom question using he or him. In the sentence Who/ whom was the friend you brought with you? You would answer “he is the friend.” Not “him is the friend.” Subjective case, no “m”- that’s the signal that “who” is correct.
Here are more correct uses of “who” and “whom”:
That’s the boy whom Simran dislikes. (Simran dislikes him.)
Can I tell her who is calling? (He is calling.)
Whom are you inviting for the dinner? (you are inviting them for the dinner.)
To whom are you giving these flowers: (you are giving the flowers to him.)
I want the people who did this step forward. (They did this.)
Now here’s a tricky correct example that even “who/whom” whizzes can get confused.:
She’ll marry the man who she thinks has the finest collection of ties.
The “she thinks” gives a lot of people fits here: it may seem as if the pronoun should be the object of “thinks” and that therefore we need “whom”. But the pronoun is actually the subject of “has,” Which becomes clear when we apply the “m’ test. You wouldn’t say she thinks him has the finest collection of ties, instead, you’d say, she thinks he has the finest collection of ties. No “m,” so we need “who”. Many sentences follow a similar pattern when they include an extra clause reporting what people believe, think, or say.
Sheila, who I believe has the largest collection of fountain pens of India, always writes letters on her computer.
My blind date, who you’d said would be “interesting,” proved to be just that.
As must be clear from the table above, whoever and whomever, just replace and whom respectively. So they follow the same pattern.
In spoken English, who and whomever are becoming more and more uncommon.
Informally, people use who and whoever in almost all situations.
Use Correct Pronoun Reference
The meaning of pronoun comes from its antecedent, the noun or pronoun to which it refers.
Your speech and writing will be confusing if your pronoun reference is unclear.
Carelessly placed pronouns can create unintentionally funny sentences as well as confusing one. Consider the difference between what the writer thinks he or she said and what is really being said in the following sentences:
Last week, a wart appeared on my right thumb, and I want it removed.
(Are you removing the wart or the thumb?)
Guilt and unkindness can be emotionally destructive to you and your friends. You must get rid of them.
(Are you getting rid of the guilt or your friends ?)
There are three ways to prevent pronoun confusion.
- A pronoun must clearly refer to a single antecedent.
- Place pronouns close to their antecedents.
- Make a pronoun refer to a definite antecedent.
Let’s look at each guideline in detail.
- A pronoun must clearly refer to a single antecedent. A common writing and speech problem occurs when the same pronoun refers to more than one antecedent. For instance, in the last example in the previous section, them can referto guilt, unkindness, or your friends.
Remember that a pronoun replaces a noun. To make sure that your writing and speech are clear, always use the noun first before you use the pronoun. Clarify the sentence by replacing the unclear pronouns with nouns. That way all the remaining pronouns will clearly refer to a single antecedent.
Guilt and unkindness can be emotionally destructive to you and your friends. You must get rid of them.
Here are two ways you could rewrite this sentence:
Guilt and unkindness can be emotionally destructive to you and your friends. You must get rid of these issues. Guilt and unkindness can be emotionally destructive to you and your friends. You must get rid of these destructive emotions
- Place pronouns close to their antecedents. If too many phrases come between a pronoun and its antecedent, the sentence can be difficult to read and understand. This can happen even if the intervening material is logically related to the rest of the sentence. Consider the following sentence:
After meeting a few guests, the Prime Minister entered the reception. At the point, the
Finance Minister and the other elected officials began to pose for pictures. Even so, he did not join them.
In this sentence he is too far away from its antecedent, the Prime Minister. One solution is to replace he with the Prime Minister. The other solution is to rewrite the sentences to move the pronoun closer.
After meeting a few guests, the Prime Minister entered the reception. At that point, the Finance Minister and the other elected officials began to pose for pictures. Even so, the Prime Minister did not join them.
After meeting a few guest, the Prime Minister entered the reception. He did not join the Finance Minister and the other elected officials, even though they began to pose for pictures.
When you start a new paragraph, repeat the noun from the previous paragraph rather than using a pronoun in its place, Repeating the noun (usually a name) can help your reader more easily follow your logic.
- Make a pronoun refer to a definite antecedent. Be sure all pronouns refer to only one antecedent. The pronouns it, this, that, and which are especially prone to unclear pronoun reference. Consider the following sentence:
I told my friends that I was going to be a rock star, which annoyed my mother.
The following form is better because it is less ambiguous.
My mother was annoyed because I told my friends that I was going to be a rock star.
Using Who, Which, That
Special rules govern the use of the relative pronoun who, which, and that.
- Who refers to people or animals (only animals with names or special talents, like Lassie).
She is not the actress who was originally cast in the role.
- That and which refers to things, groups, and unnamed animals.
The choice between which and that depends on wheter the clause, introduced by the pronoun is restrictive or nonrestrictive.
A restrictive clause is essential to the sentence.
A nonrestrictive clause adds extra meaning, is set off by commas, and can be removed from the sentence.
Use that for restrictive clauses and which with nonrestrictive clauses.
The cat, which had been sleeping for hours, woke up when the canary sang.
The cat that had been sleeping for hours was hungrier than the cat that ate the canary.
Now, in the first sentence, the clause, “which had been sleeping for hours” gives us some information about the cat, but it isn’t essential to the meaning of the sentence: we know the significant fact, that the cat awoke, whether or not we have the additional information contained in the clause, “which had been sleeping.” This clause is, we can say, nonessential, or, as the grammarians put it, a nonrestrictive clause- nonrestrictive because, although it does describe what the cat has been doing, it doesn’t restrict or limit the meaning of the principal clause; the cat awoke, regardless of how along it had been sleeping. Because our clause is thus nonrestrictive, or nonessential, we indicate its “expendable” nature by using the pronoun “which” and, in writing, by setting off the clause with commas.
In the second sentence, on the other hand, the clauses beginning with “that” are clearly essential to the meaning of the sentence, which would otherwise only tell us that one (unspecified) cat was hungrier than another (unspecified) cat. For the sentence to do any sort of job it must narrow its meaning down; it must distinguish between cats, between the sleeper and the canary-eater, and thus restrict the principal action to two particular, clearly different creatures. These restrictive clauses are not expendable; they are essential to and inseparable from the basic meaning of the sentence. They are signaled by the pronoun “that,” and, in writing, they are not set off by commas.
As you can see, the rules can be pretty clearly stated:
Use which in a nonrestrictive clause (a clause not essential to the meaning of the sentence).
Use that in a restrictive clause (a clause essential to the meaning of the sentence).
There’s one pretty obvious exception to these rules. If you have a nonrestrictive clause (calling for “which”) but you are referring to a person, follow the earlier rule (and probably your own instinct); avoid the “which” and go back to “who” or “whom”. So it’s proper (and certainly natural) to say:
Bob, who (and no, in this case, “which”) had been spending his day fishing, ate all the hot dogs.
With a restrictive clause referring to a person, you can, as with all restrictive clauses, use “that,” or, as many people prefer, “who” or “whom”. Here are a few examples:
The man that you just insulted is my brother-in-law.
Or: The man whom you just insulted is my brother-in-law.
- In “it-clauses” (clauses beginning with ‘it’), use ‘that.’
It is this book that I was referring to.
- Clauses having a ‘superlative’ should use ‘that’.
This is the worst movie that I have ever seen.
The best book that anyone can find.
- If a clause has two relative pronouns; they should not be the same.
Who is the boy that you were talking about? (Not: Who is the boy whom you were talking about?)
That is the boy whom I was talking about. (Not: That is the boy that I was talking about.)
Which is the book that you like? (Not: Which is the book which you like?)
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