August 30, 2014

Case: The Basics

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.
Subjective Objective Possessive
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:

  1. Identify subject, verb and object in the sentence
  2. Identify independent and dependent clauses
  3. Identify prepositions

Related posts:

Speak Your Mind

*