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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.

Examples:

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.

Examples:

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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    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Awesome, Robin! Congrats on your quiz score!

    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 6 years ago

      Great hub! And yay, I scored 100%!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Glad you think so, dilipchandra! thanks for reading and commenting!

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 6 years ago from India

      Thanks for sharing the knowledge. Useful hub, well written..

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Of course, cclitgirl! I expect nothing less than 100 percent from you! Thanks for the great votes!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Woohoo! Got a 100 on that quiz. Fellow grammarians unite! Fun hub. Voted up and across.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Glad you think the explanations are clear, Sue! Cool! Congrats on your score!

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Incredibly useful Hub Victoria. Thanks to your clear explanations, I'm glad to have scored 100%.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Aw, Epi, you make me blush! I love it. Well, I figure that anyone, hubbers or not, can use a review of the English language. There's so much to master. Thanks for your comments, as always. And I hope you're a good student! Hugs from your favorite English teacher....:-)

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...always so great to hear from you my dear Miss Victoria - and I really appreciate this wonderful series from you - because it's never too late or we're never too old to learn something new especially when one is in the writing game - and you are such an expert at this subject - well that's it then you are the best looking English teacher I've ever seen ....lol

      lake erie time ontario canada 7:43pm

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      hahaha, Dillon. I don't know if you're joking or serious. :-) The subject is what or who the sentence is about. The object comes after the verb and receives the action. I hope you will be happy! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Dillon Thomas 6 years ago

      When I can figure out the the object of this suject, I will be happy.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I hear pronoun errors pretty often, homestead. It DOES sound bad--you're right about that.Thanks for commenting!

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      I think people make more mistakes with pronouns than they do in most areas. And when they do, it sounds really bad! Thanks for the grammar lesson!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      randomcreative--that drives me crazy, too, to see errors on supposedly professional documents. I don't know if people just don't know what is correct, or they're lazy or just don't pay attention. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I definitely agree with WillStarr. I always get frustrated when I get an e-mail from any type of professional with obvious grammatical mistakes. There is just no excuse for that! Thanks for this helpful information.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, Sunshine--glad you apprecite the grammar geek! haha

      Flora--good job on the quiz! I'll have to check out your Bon Jovi poem. Yeah, I just noticed that about the 200 followers. Thanks!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Just noticed that you have reached 200 followers. Congratulations.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      100%! Thanks for the quiz! I appreciate the grammar geek!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I got 100%. I love quizzes.

      p.s. my Bon Jovi poem is up.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Perfect instruction to your daughter! If you drop the other person, it sounds stupid. Great example! Pass it on!!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My daughter asked me how to tell the difference and I said to just drop the second person and it will be obvious:

      Me went shopping.

      Her went shopping.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Yeah, me and her, me and him, her and I, him and I, etc....all wrong....Yes, I hear that stuff a lot. Thanks, WillStarr, for reading and commenting!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This is a major problem today. Education has certainly deteriorated. How many times have we heard:

      Me and her went shopping?

      Good points!

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