Pesky Pronouns

I'm one of those annoying people who "gets" pronouns. And I'm also one of those people who is brazen enough to stop you mid-paragraph and correct the sentence that you just spoke if you blow it with compound pronouns, the ones connected with "and." Or, I'm snippy enough to put a note on your Facebook page if you goof up. Really, I do it. I'm moderately ashamed of my pronoun snobbery, only moderately.


Oh, how sad it is when I hear someone say, "Yeah, she gave my brother and I a present to share."


Update 8-20-12: No one is immune from pronoun dysfunction. Just saw this on a celebrity's Facebook page. "The outpouring of prayer and support from friends, family and fans has been a blessing to both xxxx and I," she said.


NO NO NO - she did not give "I" a present, she gave "my brother" a present, and she gave "me" a present. And, we have to share it, which is another issue completely.


Here's a really quick way to remember how to use pronouns that are joined with an "and." Think about how you would say the sentence WITHOUT the other person's name.


"Yeah, she gave me a present, and I have to share it with my brother."


I know, I know, it feels awkward to say, "Yeah, she gave my brother and me a present." But it is correct. So, if it feels awkward and you don't want to say it that way, reword the sentence. Get in the habit of rewording your sentences.


Examples: "So, yeah, would you believe that she brought one present and she expected me to share it with my brother?"


Or, "Yeah, she is watching her pennies, so she found a neat present that I can share with my brother since our birthdays are so close."


Or, "She's so sweet. She knows that my brother and I both like to play Scrabble, so she bought us a game that we can share."


I'm not going to bore you with a big long explanation about the difference between subjective pronouns (the subject of the verb that follows) and objective pronouns (the object of the verb that came first). Just remember to reword the sentence, or think about how you would say the same thing if the other person were not being discussed. (And, on another subject, yes, if you use the word "if" in a sentence such as the one just before this one, then the correct form of the verb "to be" is "were." Very confusing, I know, but trust me, it is correct.


Wrong: "Her and I went to the store." Would you say, "Her went to the store."? I didn't think so.


Wrong: "Me and her went to the store." If I have to tell you why that's wrong, we're both in big trouble.


Wrong: "He's coming over today to talk to Tom and I."  NO, NO, NO!  He's not coming over to talk to "I." Honest, I promise you that he's not. He's coming over to talk to me. It's all about me.


Go forth and make no more pronoun mistakes. You'll become a pronoun snob in no time at all.

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