Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

Learning Support Services

The Writer’s Reference Book


Module 10 – Pronoun Case – Hint Sheet

Subject pronouns (I, he, she it, we, they, who) are used for

  • Subjects of independent clauses : He knows the time.
  • Subjects of dependent clauses: Bill knows that I am sick.
    Note: Dependent clauses start with words such as because, that, when, where, etc.
  • Subject complements: It is she.
    Note: This always is used in written English, but seldom is used in spoken English, so it will not sound right.
  • Appositives to subjects or subject complements: The Main StreetGang – Edgar, Amy, and I – have always helped out our school.
    Note: An appositive is a word or phrase that follows and renames a noun.
  • Don't be confused when an appositive follows a pronoun: We students were punished.

Object Pronouns (me him, her, it, us, them, whom) are used for

  • Direct objects: Ed asked her to the dance.
  • Indirect objects: Sam gave him the answer.
  • Objects of prepositions: Jeff talked to them.
  • Objects of verbals: It took almost an hour to write him.
  • Pushing them to their limit, the captain became exhausted.
  • Teasing her was a favorite game.
  • Appositives to an object: The principal punished the disruptive students – my pals and me. Note: Don’t be confused when an appositive follows a pronoun: The teacher gave us students a dirty look.

Compounds – To identify the functions of pronouns when they are part of compounds, omit the rest of the compound:

  • Butch and I got lost. (I got lost.)
  • Give it to Edith and me. (Give it to me.)

Possessive pronouns do not have an apostrophe:

  • The problems were hers.
  • The dog hurt its paw.

The only time you will use an apostrophe with a pronoun is with a contraction: It’s over. (It is over.) She’s gone. (She is gone.) Formal English does not use contractions.

Who/whomWho is used for subjects; whom is used for objects.

Look to see how it’s used in the smallest unit it is in.

  • The secretary is not sure who called. (Who is the subject of the verb called.)
  • I don't know whom it is you mean. (Whom is the object of the verb mean.)

The use of who is more common than the use of whom, and spoken English seldom uses whom.

Note: You need to be able to find subjects and objects to use pronouns correctly. If you have trouble identifying functions of words in sentences, review Module 1 – Basic Sentence Patterns.

facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff googleplusoff socialoff