The case of a pronoun indicates whether the pronoun initiates the action (e.g., subjective case), receives the action (e.g., objective case) or conveys ownership (e.g., possessive case).
There are three types of case:
- Subjective/Nominative case which indicates that the pronoun is acting as the subject of a given clause or as a predicate nominative following a linking verb.
- The subject pronouns are: I, you, he, she, they, we, who and it.
- Objective Case, which indicates that the pronoun is acting as an object.
- The object pronouns are: me, you, him, her, them, us, whom and it.
- Possessive case, which indicates that the pronoun is showing ownership.
- The possessive pronouns are: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, their, theirs, our, ours, whose and its.
|Singular||I,she, he, it||meher, him, it||my, mineher, hers, his, its|
|Plural||wethey||usthem||our, ourstheir, theirs|
|Singular and Plural||youwho||youwhom||your, yourswhose|
We use the subjective case when a pronoun is:
- a subject of a verb
- a predicate nominative that follows a form of the linking verb to be.
We use the objective case when a pronoun is:
- a direct object of a verb
- an indirect object
- an object of a preposition
- an object of any verbal
We use the possessive case when a pronoun:
- denotes ownership
- attributes a characteristic to someone or something
In sentences with a compound joined by AND, we use the same case—subjective or objective—as you would with no compound:
- Bill and I cracked the window. (Subjective)
- Bill cracked the window.
- I cracked the window.
- You would not write: Me cracked the window.
- They threw snowballs at Delores and me. (Objective)
- They threw snowballs at Delores.
- They threw snowballs at me.
- You would not write: They threw snowballs at I.
A pronoun with an appositive following it uses the same case as it would without the appositive:
- We students need more time. (Subjective)
- STUDENTS is an appositive to WE.
- Remove the appositive to determine the proper case: We need more time.
- Will they give us reporters access to the president? (Objective)
- REPORTERS is an appositive to US.
- Remove the appositive to determine the proper case: Will they give us access to the president.
The case of a relative pronoun (who, whom, which, that) is determined by how the relative pronoun is used in the dependent clause.
If the relative pronoun is the subject of a dependent clause, it must be in the nominative case
- The witness WHO was to appear today is ill.
- WHO is the subject of the verb WAS in the dependent clause.
If the relative pronoun is the object of a dependent clause, it must be in the objective case
- The witness WHOM they have indicted is ill.
- WHOM is the object of the verb HAVE INDICTED in the dependent clause.
TO DETERMINE CASE:
- Identify subject, verb and object in the sentence
- Identify independent and dependent clauses
- Identify prepositions