Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Step Two: Objective Pronouns

Now that I’ve explained both the source of my frustration and how you use subjective pronouns, I’ll turn my attention to objective pronouns.

You choose the objective form of a pronoun when the word is, surprisingly, the object of a phrase, clause, or sentence. In, “She went with him,” him answers the question, “With whom?” That makes him the object of the preposition.

(Whom is an objective pronoun, but the objective form of the interrogative pronoun “who”. The more you talk and write about pronouns, the more aside you find yourself making.)

Alternatively, in “She slapped her,” you have no pronoun to give you a clue. You still have a question to answer, however. “Who did she slap?” “Her” receives the action of the verb, and that means “her” is an object, too.

I believe we’re ready for the list, now. Here it is: you, her, him, it, us, you, and them.

(“You” offers a lovely escape from the dangerous pronoun waters, allowing you to skim over problems of gender and number as well as to avoid deciding whether your pronoun acts as a subject or object. I highly recommend it to you as a form of address in relatively informal writing.)

Which pronoun you use depends entirely on its role, not on the attempted formality—or lack thereof—in your tone. You sound less dignified, not more, when you choose to say, “2-Duh danced with she and I but I didn’t touch him.”

When you find yourself about to speak a sentence of that nature (or to write a sentence involving compound pronouns), compose the sentence with only one person acting as the subject or object. Would you say, “2-Duh danced with I” or “He danced with she”? If you cannot see a problem there, I can’t help you.