Subjective – Objective Pronouns
In English language nouns have the same form both in the ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ cases, however violations of this rule are very common with personal pronouns I/me, he/him, she/her, we/us, they/them, and relative or interrogative pronoun who/whom and its indefinite form whoever/whomever. Errors commonly occur when pronouns are part of compound subjects, as in “Johnny and me are going to get engaged.’ As natural as this may sound, it is still at real odds with standard English. The rule is the following: the pronoun in a compound subject has to have the same form as it would have if it were standing alone, i.e. ‘I am going to get engaged.’, accordingly it should be ‘Johnny and I are going to get engaged.”
Another very common error occurs with pronouns which are part of their own clause, as in ‘It was she I was talking about.’, may seem confusing at a glance, because there is no objective pronoun and ‘I was talking about’ seems to require one. The temptation is to make ‘It was her I was talking about.’, thus providing an objective pronoun. Nonetheless ‘It was she’ is correct, since a pronoun is governed by its own clause. The missing objective pronoun ‘whom’ has simply been omitted, i.e. ‘It was she whom I was talking about.’ The omission of ‘whom’ is entirely permissible. Let’s consider another example, ‘I invited people whom I thought would get along together.’, is just as wrong, if less apparently so, as ‘I invited people whom would get along together.’ The pronoun ‘whom’ is the subject of ‘would get’, not the object of ‘thought’, and therefore it should be ‘who’, i.e. ‘I invited people who I thought would get along together.’ Here the relative clause ‘who would get along
together’ is interrupted by the clause ‘I thought’. Even though the relative pronoun in the sentence ‘I invited people who I thought would get along together.’ is subjective, it can be dropped: ‘I invited people I thought would get along together.’
In the sentence ‘I invited people whom I thought you would like.’, objective pronoun ‘whom’ is correct, i.e. ‘I invited people whom you would like’ is interrupted by ‘I thought’.
The use of objective pronouns – me, her, him, it, us, you, them with ‘than’ is common especially with first-person pronouns, e.g. ‘She thinks she’s better than me.’ or ‘She is more ambitious than us.’ In another example – ‘She likes him better than me.’, the use of objective pronoun ‘me’ is correct however the meaning is ambiguous, i.e. ‘She likes him better than she likes me.’, or ‘She likes him better than I do.’ Thus, when in doubt about the proper case for a pronoun following ‘than’, we should just make up the sentence with the elliptical clause filled in. Similarly ‘He has better friends than I.’, is correct but ambiguous; it could mean either ‘He has better friends than I am.’ or ‘He has better friends than I have.’ Therefore, you should always be cautious of elliptical clauses and check them for ambiguity and grammatical accuracy.
Let’s – Let us
The grammar rule for ‘Let us’ and ‘Let’s’ is that ‘Let’ is followed by objective pronouns, ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘him’, ‘her’, ‘it’ ‘us’, ‘them’ which are followed by an ‘implied infinitive’, i.e. infinitive without ‘to’ as in the example ‘Let it be as you wish.’
‘Let’s’ is not perceived as what most grammarians say it is -‘the imperative structure, rather it is used to express a request, a proposal or a command and even resigned acceptance of the inevitable, as in ‘Let the worst happen.’
Besides errors of case ‘Let’s’ encourages other errors too, such as colloquial ‘Let’s you and me reconcile and make up for the time wasted.’ ‘Let’s you and me’ is redundant, instead you should use ‘Let’s reconcile’. ‘Let’s you and me’ is not correct and should not be used in any situation other than casual speech.
Whoever – Whomever
‘Whoever’, unlike other pronouns, can function as the subject of one verb and the object of another, as in ‘I will invite whoever wants to come.’ In this sentence ‘whoever’ is the subject of wants and the object of invite. To be more precise, it is not ‘whoever’ but the whole clause ‘whoever wants to come’ which is the object of ‘invite’. Another similar example is ‘There will be a prize for whoever draws the lucky number.’
‘Whomever’ can function as the object of verbs in two clauses, as in ‘I will invite whomever you choose.’, or as the subject of a verb and the object of a preposition, as in ‘Whomever we send invitations to is sure to come.’ In speech, occasional errors are almost inevitable, because the role of the pronoun can be complicated, as in ‘This invitation is for whoever that is you’re with.’ Here the temptation is strong to make it ‘whomever’ as the object of ‘for’ or the object of ‘with’. As the examples here show, the form of the pronoun – whether it is the subjective ‘whoever’ or the objective ‘whomever’ – is determined by the role it plays in its own clause, which is the clause that completes its meaning.