One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Each of the pronouns in English (I, you, he, she, it, we, they, me, him, her, us, and them) comprising a set that shows contrasts of person, gender, number, and case.
- ‘The manuscript should resemble an extemporaneous speech with short, relatively simple sentences and paragraphs, personal pronouns and occasional colloquialisms.’
- ‘There are ten personal pronouns people use to address one another.’
- ‘It's a personal pronoun used with the verb ‘to be’.’
- ‘The play on personal pronouns throughout re-emphasizes both the fluidity of separate selves and the elusiveness of communion.’
- ‘First of all, it leads to the notion that you cannot express yourself directly and spontaneously and sincerely with the use of the personal pronoun.’
- ‘Unfortunately, English has no sexless personal pronoun, so the default of masculine is chosen.’
- ‘Correct discourse in the US now demands that the gender of non-specific personal pronouns should alternate.’
- ‘And there is an irritating mannerism, in which he uses the feminine personal pronoun in place of the indefinite pronoun, that gradually wore on my nerves.’
- ‘This formality is in part caused by the Czech language, which has two forms of the second-person personal pronoun.’
- ‘One reason historical linguists are skeptical of this claim is that it's so easy to find languages in which personal pronouns have undergone a lot of change.’
- ‘If you'll excuse me, isn't the singular personal pronoun a more useful device in that sentence?’
- ‘There are so many personal pronouns, each one denoting an exact relationship between speaker and subject, that even the most brilliant student cannot master them all.’
- ‘The verb form accompanying this personal pronoun is different from its equivalent in standard Spanish.’
- ‘Even in his e-mail, personal pronouns relating to Serena are capitalized, while those relating to Peter himself are always in lower case.’
- ‘The next step was to proscribe my use of the personal pronoun in the same way.’
- ‘In the best poems, the personal pronoun is invoked unapologetically and effectively.’
- ‘Using the feminine personal pronoun as an indefinite article is as moronic as using the masculine personal pronoun for personification.’
- ‘Such use of personal pronouns lends the installations a strange potency.’
- ‘He makes use of three different personal pronouns - I, you, and he - to indicate a single person.’
- ‘More importantly, she altered the impersonal tone of Chinese verse, inundating her translations with personal pronouns.’
The correct use of personal pronouns is one of the most debated topics of English usage. I, we, they, he, and she are subjective personal pronouns, which means they are used as the subject of the sentence, often coming before the verb (she lives in Paris; we are leaving). Me, us, them, him, and her, on the other hand, are objective personal pronouns, which means that they are used as the object (i.e., they receive the action) of a verb or preposition (John likes me; his father left him; I did it for her). This explains why it is not correct to say John and me went to the mall: the personal pronoun is in subject position, so it must be I, not me. Using the pronoun alone makes the incorrect use obvious: me went to the mall is clearly not acceptable. This analysis also explains why it is not correct to say he came with you and I: the personal pronoun is governed by a preposition (with) and is therefore objective, so it must be me, not I. Again, a simple test for correctness is to use the pronoun alone: he came with I is clearly not acceptable. See also between
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