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When to Use Subject and Object Pronouns in a Sentence - Grammar Lesson

Updated on February 12, 2013
Some of the subject and object pronouns
Some of the subject and object pronouns | Source

How to choose the correct pronoun

Okay, so the Grammar Geek is at it again, this time with pronouns. When do you choose "she" over "her," or "we" over "us"? What about after a preposition or linking verb? While choosing the correct pronoun may seem easy to some, I continually hear people use “Her and I” as a subject or “her and I” as an object. Both are incorrect. And what about that hoity-toity person who answers the phone with “This is she”? Well, she is correct in her usage.

Subject Pronouns

First, we’ll list the subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they

The rule is pretty simple. Use these subject pronouns when you are stating the subject of a sentence, generally the first part, to put it simply.


I need to study.

He was late to work.

They are having a yard sale.

Stick to the same rule when making a plural subject:

She and I are going shopping.

You and they are the only ones left.

He and she make a cute couple.

Okay, simple enough? Now, let’s move on to object pronouns.

Object Pronouns

Let’s list the object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, them

So, the object pronoun goes after the verb, receiving the action of the verb.


The teacher scolded me.

My mom was looking for us.

Now, where I see and hear more errors is when the objects are plural. Many people want to use “I” as an object. Here are some correct examples:

The boss reprimanded her and me.

I found her and them in the closet.

Many would want to say "The boss reprimanded her and I." I know, because I've heard that type of combination said many times. Here’s a way to remember that “her and I” just don’t work as the object of the sentence. To check this, separate the two pronouns in the sentence.

The boss reprimanded her. The boss reprimanded me.
Would you say, “The boss reprimanded I”? No, you wouldn’t, so always stick to the object pronoun in such cases. Don't mix subject and object pronouns together.

Using Subject Pronouns with Linking Verbs

Okay, so what are the exceptions? You knew there would be some. Yet, in this case, they’re not really exceptions, as they do make sense.

After a linking verb, such as the “to be” verb—“is” and “was,” for example, the subject pronoun is used. Why not the object pronoun? The reason is that the pronoun is actually used as a repeat of the subject, rather than an object of the verb. For example, when someone asks for you on the phone and you answer, “This is she” or “This is he,” you are just linking the pronoun with the subject.

More Examples:

It is he who made the mistake. ("It" equals "he.")

Was it they who donated the money? ("It" equals "they.")

It was I who authorized those changes. ("It" equals "I.")

Use the subject pronoun after the "to be" verbs. While “It was I” might sound strange to you at first, with practice, it won’t sound so weird, and people might even think you sound educated and know what you’re talking about. Try it!

Here are the subject pronouns. . .

Pronoun Quiz - Fill in the blank(s).

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