ENGLISHMain English Grammar

RULES ON USES OF PRONOUNS

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1. When to Use Subjective Pronoun

A) If two or more pronouns are subjects, they are used in subjective case; e.g.

i) YOU and I are good friends. (not YOU and ME)
ii) YOU, HE and I have done well. (not YOU, HIM and ME)

B) If one or more pronouns have been used as apposition for a word which is the subject of a sentence, that/those pronoun/s is/are in subjective case.

The two of us, He and I, did not agree to her proposal. (not HIM and ME)

[APPOSITION = the use of a noun, pronoun or noun phrase immediately after another noun or noun phrase that refers to the same person or thing. Here HE and I are in apposition to THE TWO OF US as both HE and I refer to it only.]

C) Subject pronouns are also used if they rename the subject. They will follow the verb BE (is, are, was, were, am, will be, had been, etc.) In other words after the verb BE we use subjective case of a pronoun; e.g.

i) It is he.
ii) This is she speaking.
iii) It is we who are responsible for the decision to downsize.

INCORRECT: It was me who stood first.
CORRECT: It was I who stood first.

INCORRECT: Where is Ram? – That’s him over there in the park.
CORRECT: Where is Ram? — That’s HE over there in the park.

INCORRECT: Who will go to the picnic? – It will be her.
CORRECT: Who will go to the picnic? — It will be SHE.

INCORRECT: It could have been them.
CORRECT: It could have been they.

INCORRECT: It is just me at the door.
CORRECT: It is just I at the door.

D) If ‘TO BE’ is an infinitive and it has no subject, the pronoun after it is in subjective case.

The winner was certain TO BE HE. (the infinitive ‘TO BE’ here has no expressed subject; so HE, not HIM)

NOTE: But if TO BE has a pronoun as its subject as well as the object, we use objective pronouns at both the places; e.g.

They guessed HIM to be ME. (here HIM is the subject of TO BE, and ME the object of TO BE.

E) When there is comparison of subject with any pronoun we use the subjective case of that pronoun; e.g.

INCORRECT: I’m not so old as HIM.
CORRECT: I’m not so old as HE.

INCORRECT: He has more time than ME.
CORRECT: He has more time than I.

INCORRECT: Sohan walks slowly than HER.
CORRECT: Sohan walks slowly than SHE.

NOTE: In informal English the objective case is more usual, but in an exam only standard English matters.

F) If two or more pronouns in the subject of a sentence are joined by AND, the objective, possessive and reflexive pronouns are in the plural and they are according to the following rules:

i) If pronoun of the first person is with pronoun of the second or the third person in the subject they will be according to the first person, means they will be US/OUR/OURSELVES.

ii) If pronoun of the second person is with pronoun of the third person (but not pronoun of the first person) in the subject they will be according to the second person, means they will be YOU/YOUR/YOURSELVES.

iii) If two or more pronouns of the third person are in the subject they will be according to the third person, means they will be THEM/THEIR/THEMSELVES.

EXAMPLE You and I have done our best in the examination.

2.When to Use Objective Pronoun

A) If two pronouns are joined by a conjunction and they are object of a verb; we use objective case of both the pronouns.

i) They prohibited YOU and ME from playing in the street. (here both the pronouns are joined by AND, and are object of the verb PROHIBITED; so it will be YOU and ME, not YOU and I)
ii) You allowed HIM and ME to stay here. (not HE and I)

B) After the verb LET Objective Case of a pronoun is used.

i) Let US go. (not WE)
ii) Let Sita and ME go. (not Sita and I)

C) After a preposition (in, on, at, like, between, except, etc.), we use objective case of a pronoun; e.g.

i) He depends on me. (not I)
ii) I must distribute the bread between him and you equally. (not HE)

INCORRECT: Everyone was in the meeting except he.
CORRECT: Everyone was in the meeting except him.

3. Uses of Possessive Pronoun and Possessive Adjective

A) Possessive Pronouns can be used as subjects, objects of verbs and also as objects of prepositions; e.g.

i) Mine is a big car. (= My car is a big car.)
ii) His is a beautiful house. (= His house is a big house.)
iii) Save your time and mine also. (= Save your time and my time also.)
iv) This umbrella is hers. (This umbrella is her umbrella.)
v) His bag is better than yours. (THAN is a preposition; here YOURS means your bag)
vi) Your pen is similar to mine. (TO is a preposition; here MINE = my pen)

INCORRECT: Leena is a friend of me.
CORRECT: Leena is a friend of mine. (or Leena is one of my
friends.)

INCORRECT: I am a friend of Neha.
CORRECT: I am a friend of Neha’s. (or I am one of Neha’s friends.)

B) We don’t use Possessive Pronouns before nouns, we use Possessive Adjectives instead; e.g.

INCORRECT: Yours books are on the table.
CORRECT: Your books are on the table.

INCORRECT: This is mine pen.
CORRECT: This is my pen.

INCORRECT: Lots of ours friends were at the party.
CORRECT: Lots of our friends were at the party.

C) We don’t use Possessive Adjectives on their own, instead we use Possessive Pronouns. We can use Possessive Adjectives only with nouns or noun phrases; e.g.

INCORRECT: Is that your umbrella? It’s very similar to my.
CORRECT: Is that your umbrella? It’s very similar to mine. (It’s very similar to my umbrella.)

INCORRECT: That’s not their car. Their has red colour.
CORRECT: That’s not their car. Theirs has red colour.

INCORRECT: It was your fault not her.
CORRECT: It was your fault not hers.

NOTE-I: HIS is both a Possessive Pronoun and a Possessive Adjective; e.g.

This pen is his. = This is his pen.

NOTE-II: ITS is only a Possessive Adjective (not a Possessive Pronoun); e.g.

I have car. Its sheet covers are made of leather.

INCORRECT: My house is near to a temple. Its a big temple.

NOTE-III: We don’t ITS and ONE’S as possessive pronouns except when we use them with OWN; e.g.

i) The house seemed asleep yet, as I have said, it had a life of its own.
ii) One doesn’t like to spend too much time on one’s own.

D)We don’t use [’s] after possessive pronouns; e.g.

INCORRECT: Are those clothes her’s?
CORRECT: Are those clothes hers?

E) We do not use [’s] with the possessive pronoun ITS. IT’s means IT IS; e.g.

INCORRECT: The team is proud of it’s ability to perform well all the time.
CORRECT: The team is proud of its ability to perform well all the time.

F) We don’t use another adjective with a Possessive Adjective; e.g.

INCORRECT: I’ll get the my hair cut tomorrow.
CORRECT: I’ll get my hair cut tomorrow.

4. USE OF PRONOUNS AFTER THAN and AS

A) If there is a comparison between two SUBJECTIVES we use SUBJECTIVE case of pronoun after THAN/AS; e; g.

i) He is as slow as I. (not ME)
ii) You run faster than HE. (not HIM)

[Conversational language (बोलचाल क􁳱 भाषा) causes confusion as we often use objective case there; but it’s wrong in standard English.]

NOTE-I: The verb after THAN/AS is optional; means we can use the helping verb of the main-clause or not; e.g.

i) Nobody knows it better than I. = Nobody knows it better than I do.
ii) No one is better judge than he. = No one is better judge than he is.
iii) I earn less than he. = I earn less than he does.

NOTE:-II: If there is a difference in tenses of the main-clause and the THAN/AS-clause; the helping verb of the tense is a must to use; e.g.

i) I earn more than he will. (here use of WILL is essential as the tense after THAN is different from the tense in the main-clause.)
ii) He knows more than I did at this age.

B) If the comparison is between two OBJECTIVES we use OBJECTIVE case of pronoun after THAN/AS; e; g.

He loves you as much as ME. (not I).

[YOU is the object of the verb LOVES; so we used ME. If the comparison was with HE, we would have used I; not ME

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)

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