Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux Canada
Symbole du gouvernement du Canada

Liens de la barre de menu commune

Modules

Tricky Points of Pronoun Usage

Previous Page Next Page

This section covers some relatively tricky points that are no longer standard in spoken English, although many people still insist upon them in formal writing.

Pronouns in apposition

A pronoun should be in the subject case when it is in apposition to a subject or subject complement, and in the object case when it is in apposition to the object of a verb, verbal or preposition:

Example Explanation
Three craftspeople—Mary, Albert and he—made the accessory for Jerry. The phrase Mary, Albert and he is in apposition to craftspeople, the subject of the sentence.
The accessory was made by three craftspeople, Mary, Albert and him. The phrase Mary, Albert and him is still in apposition to the noun craftspeople, but that noun has become the object of the preposition by, so the pronoun him is in the object case.
The three craftspeople involved were Mary, Albert and he. The pronoun he is part of the subject complement, so it is in the subject case.

Us and we before a noun

A first-person plural pronoun used with a noun takes the case of the noun. If the noun functions as a subject, the pronoun should be in the subject case; if the noun functions as an object, the pronoun should be in the object case:

  • We rowdies left the restaurant late.
  • The restaurant owner mumbled at all us slow eaters.

Using than or as in a comparison

In elliptical comparisons (where the writer has left some words out of a sentence), the case of the pronoun at the end of the sentence determines its meaning. When a sentence ends with a subjective pronoun, the pronoun must serve as the subject of the omitted verb. When a sentence ends with an objective pronoun, the pronoun must serve as the object of the omitted verb:

Elliptical subjective pronoun
Ruth likes Jerry better than I.
Complete subjective pronoun
Ruth likes Jerry better than I like Jerry.
Elliptical objective pronoun
Ruth likes Jerry better than me.
Complete objective pronoun
Ruth likes Jerry better than she likes me.


Previous Page Next Page