October 30, 2014

Case: Determining Case in a Comparison

We know that a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun.

We also know that unlike nouns, pronouns change case depending on what part they are playing in the sentence.

Just a reminder: Pronouns are either subjective/nominative  (Iheshewethey) or objective  (mehimherusthem) or possessive  (mine, his, hers, ours, theirs).

In most cases determining the case of a pronoun is fairly straightforward.

He ran out of the building. (HE is the subject of the verb RAN.)

Alex gave him a birthday present. (HIM is in the indirect object of the verb GAVE.)

Of course, it’s English grammar so there always has to be a catch. In the case of pronouns (no pun intended) it is comparisons that can cause confusion.

Just to clarify before we go any further, comparisons usually follow “than” or “as”:

He is older than I.

That frustrates you as much as him.

Tim is as angry as she.

Just remember, that comparisons usually omit words:

He is older than I (am).

That frustrates you as much as (it frustrates) him.

Tim is as angry as she (is).

In most situations, you can complete the comparison and successfully choose the correct case for the pronoun, but BE AWARE of common missteps.

Use the objective case after “than” if the pronoun doesn’t compare or contrast with the subject, but is being compared or contrasted to an object or complement.

  • He likes us better than them. (objective case)

This means that he likes us better than he likes them.

  • He likes us better than they. (subjective case)

This means that he likes us better than they likes us.

Use the objective case after “than” if the comparison features a noun or pronoun with the adjective.

  • There is no faster runner than her.

If the sentence included only the adjective FASTER, the pronoun would be subjective (There is no faster than she).

  • You are a much better artist than him.

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