Pronouns 102

A couple of the “quiz” statements below (with the wrong pronoun choice) were heard out of the mouths of university GENERAL GRAMMAR iconstudents. Alas…how did they get all the way through grades 1-12 and accepted into college without anyone drilling the correct grammar into their heads?! Probably the usual explanation: whatever is reinforced at home sticks a lot more stubbornly than what is taught in school. So, if you’re a parent…get your grammar act together! Here’s some practice:

  1. They want ______ (he, him) and his family to move closer to the home office.
  2. _____ (He, Him) and I go way back.
  3. I am sure you are much smarter than ____ (she, her).
  4. The weather keeps causing problems for him and __(I, me).
  5. ____ (Her, She) and her husband own and manage the restaurant together.
  6. Compared to her friends, she thinks she has more problems than ____ (them, they).
  7. My best friend has a penchant for dark chocolate just like _____ (I, me).

Before you check below for the correct answers, consider your selections in light of the following:

a)      If you recall from middle school language arts what the difference is between a subject and an object, make sure that you never use “him, her, or me” as the subject of a sentence.

b)      If the pronoun is the object of a verb, choose “him, her, or me.”

c)       If the pronoun is the last word of the sentence, consider whether or not there is an implied verb that could follow it (such as “do, am, is, are, have,” etc.) in which case the pronoun choice should be “he, she, they, or I.”

d)      If the pronoun is immediately followed by “and” then consider which word choice you would make if the “and…” were not there; then make the same pronoun choice as you would in that case. (If you’re having a déjà vu moment, good for you! See Dec. 4 – “The Ego Trip” – suggestion #2.)

Answers and reasons are as follows:

  1. him:  b
  2. He:  a
  3. she:  c (“she is”)
  4. me:  d (and also c because there is no implied verb following)
  5. She:  a
  6. they: c (“they have”)
  7. I: c (“I do” and I’m not talking wedding vow here.)

Sometimes it just would be better not to leave the “do, is, or am” silent because it sounds odd without. Earworm alert: sing to yourself the 1st verse of the Christmas song, “I Wonder as I Wander” for reinforcement of this point! 🙂

Meanwhile,: I’m not finished grousing yet about redundant use of pronouns (see Ranting about Redundancy). This error is spreading wildly…rather like a virus. NPR’s Renee Montagne, Claudio Sanchez, and many others have joined culprits, Audie Cornish and Ailsa Chang, in committing this grammar faux pas. Here are other recent examples:
2/19: “…these kids who are among the refugees, they need shelter, they need food…” “They” is redundant both times. “…these kids, who are among the refugees, need shelter and food…” would suffice nicely.
2/26: “…local control of what teachers teach and what standards kids are held to, that’s the issue.” “That” is redundant. “…local control…is the issue…” sans redundancy is much better.
Stay tuned for a subsequent GG post on incorrect positioning of prepositions (also demonstrated above in the 2/26 example).

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One thought on “Pronouns 102

  1. Sorry, gotta disagree with your latter grouse: the 2/19 quote is an example of anaphora, a sonic rhetorical device that lends emphasis. It’s the same device at use in Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches” speech, and in the opening of A Tale of Two Cities.

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