and other difficulties
with the case of
personal pronouns
in English

Malcolm Potter-Brown

Auksford arms: a great auk displaying an open book showing the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
--- 1994 / 2017 ---

Copyright Malcolm Potter-Brown, 1994/2017

     Many people have difficulty knowing when to use You and I and when to use You and me.  The rules are really very simple.

    The form I is used as the subject of the verb, the form me is used as the object of a verb or if governed by a preposition.

        I am here.
        I hear you and I obey.

        Do you hear me?

        Governed by a preposition
        The message is for me.
        Give it to me.

    This simple grammatical rule is not affected if the person is plural.  The form we is used as subject, the form us is used as object and when governed by a preposition.

        We have been there.
        We like singing.

        Our enemies hate us.

        Governed by a preposition
        They are afraid of us.

    The rule remains constant when the two components of the first person plural are listed separately.  The form you and I is used for the subject, the form you and me is used for the object or when governed by a preposition.

        You and I must work together.

        That puts you and me in our place.

        Governed by a preposition
        Between you and me ...
        Is there anything for you and me?

    The insertion of an appositional noun does not affect the rule.

        We Catholics must try to understand this.

        They have always persecuted us workers.

        Governed by a preposition
        What about us old age pensioners?

    The rules are the same for the third person pronouns he/him, she/her, and they/them, and also the relative and interrogative pronoun who/whom.

        He is running away, she is running too.
        They are running away.
        Who are they?
        Stop him! Stop her!
        No. Let them go!
        Whom should we stop?
        Governed by a preposition
        I have spoken to him and to her as well.
        I have made it clear to both of them.
        To whom have you spoken?

     In sentences containing relative clauses the case of each pronoun is dependent on its function in its own clause.

        He who knows best must decide.
            (He must decide. He knows best).

        Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
            (Let him cast the first stone.  He is without sin).

        He whom I shall kiss is the man.
            (He is the man. I shall kiss him.)

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