Tag Archives: object pronouns

Than I or Than Me?

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©Judi Birnberg

Which do you prefer? Elmer loves golf more than I  or  Elmer loves golf more than me?

It used to be, not so long ago, that than was considered a preposition, and prepositions are followed by object pronouns (me, him, her, us, them). But than can also be considered a conjunction, which would need to be followed by subject pronouns (I, he she, we, they).

Times, they are a-changin’. Today, it’s generally acceptable to follow than by either a subject or an object pronoun, whichever one sounds better to you. This is progress! One problem with using the subject pronoun, however, is that your sentence is likely to be seen as stilted, pompous, or stuffy, somewhat la de dah. What you are saying in the first example in the first line is that Elmer loves golf more than I do. When you add those clarifying words, the stuffiness disappears. If you prefer using the object pronoun, you may have to also add clarifying words: Elmer loves golf more than he loves me.

A side note: Than and then may sound very similar, but they have very different meanings:

Than is used to compare things: more than, less than, taller than, stronger than, closer than….

Then shows relationships in which one thing follows another or results from it: Sam came home from school famished; he then emptied the refrigerator for his afternoon snack.

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“Dior and I”

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This is the title of a new film that was reviewed in today’s Los Angeles Times. Does the title make you wonder if the pronoun is correct? In fact, it depends what the filmmakers wanted to say.

“Dior and I” is correct if you are using “I” as the subject pronoun it always is. For instance, “Dior and I collaborated on many shows.”

But “Dior and Me” would be correct if you’re using “me” as the object pronoun it always is. For instance, “The Winter 2000 show was produced by Dior and me.”

If you are uncertain about when to use “I” and when to use “me,” I hope this helps.

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Me, Me, Me, Me, Me!

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So many people think “I” is a classier pronoun than “me.” It isn’t. Both are equally weighted in the World of Pronouns. If you have used a preposition, you need to follow it with an object pronoun, which is what “me” is.

You wouldn’t say or write, “Janie sent an email to I,” would you? See that “to”? It’s a preposition, and therefore needs to be followed by an object pronoun: She sent the email to ME.

“Between” is also a preposition. I cringe when I see or hear “Between you and I.” Again, it’s ME. Here’s a list of some other common prepositions: for, from, above, under, below, beneath, underneath, near, next to, along, about, down, up, across….You see they indicate location or direction.

Here are other object pronouns: Her, him, us, them. Whenever you use a preposition, you’ll need one of these pronouns. Don’t say or write, “Between Bob and he.” It’s “Between Bob and him.”

If you use “I” or another subject pronoun, such as she, he, we, they, people are going to shudder. You don’t want that to happen. Use your object pronouns proudly.

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Rihanna’s Grammar

English: Rihanna at the 2009 American Music Aw...

English: Rihanna at the 2009 American Music Award Red Carpet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s New York Times Magazine had a blurb about a school in São Paulo, Brazil that has a novel way of teaching English. Here’s the article in its entirety:

TWITTER AS A SECOND LANGUAGE, by Hope Reeves

“Hi, @rihanna. I love your songs. My name is Carolina. I’m 11 years old,” began the tweet, which went on to correct Rihanna’s grammar. “It’s not to she, it’s to her,” Carolina wrote. Her tweet was part of an initiative at the Red Balloon School in São Paulo to teach English by correcting celebrities’ sloppy Twitterish. “So far no celeb has replied,” the school has said. “Hopefully they’re busy learning English.”

I could be a pedant and point out that the person who wrote that message for the school used “Hopefully” incorrectly. As written, it means that the celebrities are hopeful when, in fact, it is the school’s participants in this program who hope they will get a reply. But I have given up on this use of “hopefully”; common usage has emerged victorious.

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Who (or Whom) Let the Dogs Out?

Just as many people think “I” is a classier pronoun than “me,” they also think “whom” is more la-de-dah or professional than “who.”  False in both cases; it just depends on whether you need a subject pronoun or an object pronoun.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

1. Who/Whom let the dogs out?  If you can substitute any of these subject pronouns—he, she, we or they—use who.  We let the dogs out. She let the dogs out.  You need who in this sentence.

2. Ask not for who/whom the bell tolls.  That bell tolls for her/him/us/them. When an object pronoun works, use whom.

Easy, right?

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Which Husband Should I Keep?

Which of the two following sentences is grammatically correct?

1. My husband loves football more than I.

2. My husband loves football more than me.

The correct answer is both of them; they just say different things:

Sentence #1 says my husband loves football more than I do.

Sentence #2 says he loves football more than he loves me.

Filling in missing words will help you decide which pronoun you need.  Meanwhile, I’m keeping husband #1.

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Who or Whom?

In the same way “I” and “me” are equivalent pronouns, depending on which one is needed (see post a few below), “who” and “whom” are also equivalently weighted, although people throw in “whom” when it’s not needed because they think it is more elegant or classy.  It isn’t.

As “I” is a subject pronoun, so is “who.”  “Me” is an object pronoun, as is “whom.”  How do you know which one to use?  It’s easy:

The winning run was hit by a player (who/whom) I used to know in college.

Here’s what you do:

1. Cover up the whole sentence up to and including the “who/whom.”

2. Read what is left:  I used to know in college.

3. You’ll see a word is missing:  I used to know HIM in college.

4. If the missing word is a subject pronoun (in this case, it would have been HE), you want the subject pronoun WHO.  But in this sentence you need HIM, an object pronoun, so you use the object pronoun WHOM.

5.  That’s  the trick.

For your convenience, here are lists of the subject and object pronouns:

SUBJECT PRONOUNS: I, she, he, we, they, who

OBJECT PRONOUNS: me, her, him, us, them, whom

“It” and “you” can be either subject or object pronouns, so don’t use them in your test.  And often, as in the sample sentence above, you can eliminate WHO or WHOM.  But when you do need one of those pronouns, follow these steps and you’ll always be right.

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