Using Prepositions with Pronouns

In English the biggest problem with pronouns is that only some pronouns are allowed to act as objects of prepositions; they’re called object pronouns. Use the wrong pronoun as the object of a preposition — a non-object pronoun — and the grammar cops will be after you.

The object pronouns, cleared to act as objects of the preposition, are me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom, and whomever.

Take a look at some sentences with pronouns as objects of the prepositions:

Among Bill, Harry, and me there is no contest. (Me is one of the objects of the preposition among.)
Without them, the bridge will fall out of Cedric’s mouth. (Them is the object of the preposition without — also, in case you’re wondering, it’s a dental bridge, not the Golden Gate.)
Lester added an amendment to the bill concerning us, but the bill did not pass. (Us is the object of the preposition concerning.)

What is one of the most common errors in the use of object pronouns? Is the correct prepositional phrase between you and I or between you and me? Answer: The correct expression is between you and me. Between = the preposition. You and me = the objects of the preposition. Me is an object pronoun. (I is a subject pronoun.) The next time you hear someone say between you and I, you can recite the rule.

Most of the tough pronoun choices come when the sentence has more than one object of the preposition. Your ear for grammar will probably tell you the correct pronoun when the sentence has a single pronoun object. You probably wouldn’t say according to she because it sounds funny (to use a technical term).

If the sentence has more than one object of the preposition, try this rule of thumb, at least when you’re writing or looking for errors in someone else’s writing. Take your thumb and cover one of the objects. Say the sentence. Does it sound right?

According to Elton

Okay so far. Now take your thumb and cover the other object. Say the sentence. Does it sound right?

According to she

Now do you hear the problem? Make the change:

According to her

Now put the two back together:

According to Elton and her

This method is not foolproof, but chances are good that you’ll get a clue to the correct pronoun choices if you check the objects one by one.

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