A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. To choose the correct pronoun, you must know the pronoun’s function: subject; subject compliment; direct object; indirect object; object of the preposition; possessive.
- Subject: Person, place, or thing that performs the action of the sentence.
- Subject Compliment: A word (or words) that completes the meaning of a linking verb and that modifies or refers to the subject.
- Direct Object: A noun or noun clause naming whom or what after the verb.
- Indirect Object: A word (or words) naming the one (or ones) indirectly affected by the action of the verb. Tells to whom, for whom, to what or for what the action of the verb is done.
- Object of the Preposition: Noun or noun substitute that a preposition related to another word or word group.
- Possessive: Word showing ownership.
There are three cases in English: subjective, objective and possessive.
Use the subjective case when a pronoun is used as a subject or a subject compliment.
We mothers are proud of our children.
- “We” is the subject
The will be he.
- “He” is the subject compliment
This is she.
- “She” is a subject compliment
It was they who won the game.
- “They is a subject compliment
Use the objective case when a pronoun is used as a direct object, as an indirect object, or when used as an object of the preposition.
Dad advised him.
- “Him” is the direct object
Dad gave him advice.
- “Him” is the indirect object
They shared their chocolate with her and me.
- “Her and me” are objects of the preposition
The secret will be between us and them.
- “Us and them” are objects of the preposition
Use the possessive case before a gerund. A gerund is a verb form that ends in -ing and functions as a noun.
Mary is tired of his complaining.
- Mary is not tired of him; she is tired of his complaining. Another way of looking at it is the complaining belongs to him.
I was upset by their leaving so soon.
- I was not upset by them; I was upset by their leaving.