Pronouns as Objects and Subject Complements

By Geraldine Woods

He told I? He told me? Me, of course. Your ear usually tells you which pronouns to use as objects (both direct and indirect) because the wrong pronouns sound funny. The object pronouns include me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom, and whomever. Check them out in context:

Rickie splashed her with icy water.

The cobra hissed them a warning.

The talkative burglar told her everything.

Your ear may not tell you the correct pronoun to use after a linking verb. That’s where you want a subject pronoun, not an object pronoun. (Just for the record, the subject pronouns include I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, and whoever.) Why do you need a subject pronoun after a linking verb? In conversational English, you don’t. The rules relax when you’re speaking with or writing to friends. In formal English, though, you should follow this rule: What’s before the verb should be equal to what’s after the verb (S = SC). You put subject pronouns before the verb as subjects, so you put subject pronouns after the verb, as subject complements.

Which sentence is correct?

A. According to the witness, the burglar is her, the one with the bright orange eyes!

B. According to the witness, the burglar is she, the one with the bright orange eyes!

Answer: Sentence B is correct if you’re writing formally. Is is a linking verb and must be followed by a subject pronoun, she. Sentence A is acceptable in conversation.