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Online Writing Courses: Subjective vs. Objective Pronouns

Updated on August 30, 2013

online writing classes - English grammar

This is another entry in my free online writing classes. Today’s writing skills topic is about pronouns and whether the pronoun used is subjective or objective. Many writers make mistakes with case, and you can improve writing skills by brushing up in my online writing courses and English grammar.

In case you don’t remember what a pronoun is, a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun.

Examples of subjective personal pronouns include he, she, it, they, you, we, and I.

Examples of objective personal pronouns are him, her, it, them, you, us, and me.

Possessive personal pronouns include his, hers, its, yours, ours, and theirs.

Demonstrative pronouns are this, these, that, and those.

Relative pronouns join one phrase or clause with another phrase or clause. They include that, which, who, whom, whoever, whomever, and whichever.

Interrogative pronouns ask questions and include which, what, who, whom, whoever, whomever, whatever, and whichever.

Indefinite pronouns refer to unspecified people or things. They include words like all, any, anybody, anyone, anything, everybody, everything, nobody, none, one, few, many, each, several, some, somebody, and someone.

Intensive pronouns add emphasis to antecedents. An antecedent is a noun or pronoun to which a pronoun refers.

Ann said she could drive the car. (Ann is the pronoun’s antecedent.)

Intensive pronouns include myself, himself, herself, itself, yourself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

Example of an intensive pronoun: I myself think that he should be invited.

Reflexive pronouns point back to the subject of the sentence or the subject of the clause: himself, herself, itself, myself, yourself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

Example: We had to do all the chores ourselves.

I see problems all the time with pronouns, even from good writers. When I was teaching writing classes at a local school, pronoun mistakes were common. I also hear them a lot in speech from educated individuals. I think they sometimes use the subjective instead of the objective because they think it sounds better. Most of the mistakes made involve the use of subjective personal pronouns, objective personal pronouns, and relative pronouns.

Subjective is used when the pronoun is the subject, or when it renames the subject in the form of a predicate nominative. A predicate nominative is a noun or pronoun that renames or describes the subject in the sentence’s predicate:

I am going to the beach tomorrow. “I” is the subject.

It is I. it = I

She is the president of the company. She = president

The president of the company is she. President = she

Objective case is used when the pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition:

I asked her to pick up the kids from school. Correct

I asked she to pick up the kids from school. Incorrect

I’m giving the award to him. Correct

I’m giving the award to he. Incorrect

John is going with Bill and me. Correct

John is going with Bill and I. Incorrect

Just between you and me, Randy is a nut. Correct

Just between you and I, Randy is a nut. Incorrect

Who and whom

There’s also often confusion concerning the use of “who” and “whom.” Remember that “who” is subjective, and “whom” is objective. The same rule applies for “whoever” and “whomever.” An easy way to test for subjective or objective with “who” and “whom” is to substitute “he” or “him.” If “he” is right, use “who,” and if “him” is correct, use “whom.”

Who is on the phone?

He is on the phone.

John is the boy who pitched the last inning.

He is the boy who pitched the last inning.

Whom can we trust in this situation?

Can we trust him?

Jenny called a lawyer whom she met in Atlanta.

She met him in Atlanta.

You can ask whomever you like to dance.

You can ask him.

This is where it gets tricky with “who” and “whom” and “whoever” and “whomever.” When an entire phrase is the object of the preposition or the verb, and the pronoun is the subject of that phrase, then “who” or “whoever” is used.

Tell it to whoever will listen.

he will listen

Ask whoever calls to leave a message.

he calls

Improving writing skills and English grammar with online writing courses

Improving writing skills isn’t difficult, but it does take time and practice. Don’t try to tackle everything at one time. Choose one or two specific writing skills until you have them mastered. At that time, you can move on to improving writing skills in other areas. It’s best to start small and work your way up.

You can find plenty of online writing classes and online writing courses, but many charge a fee for their services. Why pay for help when you can get it for free with my free online writing classes? I’ve already posted several entries into my online writing courses, and I’ll be adding more, so stay tuned!

Review basic writing skills with my online writing courses!
Review basic writing skills with my online writing courses!

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