Writing Wednesday: The Proper Use of “She” and “Her” and “I” and “Me”

Girl writingA few weeks ago, a friend asked me to post about the correct usage of the pronouns she and her.

When I mentioned this topic to another friend, he said, “Oh yeah, good topic. Do one on and me, too.”

I responded, “Actually, that’s the same rule at work!” Yes, today we’re talking about . . .

SUBJECT AND OBJECT PRONOUNS!

Let’s start with two basic charts so that you know which pronouns fall into which category.

First, let’s look at the subject pronouns. If this chart looks familiar, it’s probably because you studied a foreign language and used a chart similar to it when conjugating verbs.

Singular Plural
I We
You You
He, She, It They

Now let’s look at the object pronoun chart.

Singular Plural
me us
you you
him, her, it them

What’s the difference between these two charts?

The subject pronouns can only be used for two things:

  1. the subject of the sentence, as in “I went to the store.”
  2. a subject complement, also known as predicate nominative or predicate noun. (Don’t ask me why we have so many names for the same thing.) An example of this would be, “The winner of the lottery was I.” Weird, right? That’s because we usually say, “I was the winner!” However, it’s precisely the reason that the sentence can be turned around that I is the correct pronoun.

The object pronouns can be used for three things:

  1. Direct objects–These receive the action of the verb as in Please call me. The “me” in this sentence is receiving the action of the verb call.
  2. Indirect objects–The person or thing that the action of the verb is done for or to. For example, Please send me the papers. The papers are the things being sent, so papers is the direct object. The papers are being sent to me, so me is the indirect object.
  3. Objects of prepositions–You remember prepositions, right? All those little words that show relationships between things, like before, behind, after, below, beside, under, from, to. So if you say Please send the letter to me, you’re still going to use the word me not I because it follows the preposition to.

Confused yet? I’ll make this as simple as possible. The only time you use subject pronouns like and she are when they are the subject of the sentence or you have one of those unusual “backward” sentences in which the word after the verb is equal to the subject.

Examples:

  • She is the last person in line. The last person in line is she.
  • He was the first person to call. The first person to call was he.

A common mistake is to use the subject pronouns at the end of the sentence all the time.

  • INCORRECT: She copied the notes for my friend and I.
  • CORRECT: She copied the notes for my friend and me. 
  • HINT: Imagine the word friend was gone. You wouldn’t say, She copied the notes for I.

Another common mistake is to use an object pronoun as a subject.

  • INCORRECT: Mark and her will write us back.
  • CORRECT: Mark and she will write us back.
  • HINT: Imagine Mark disappeared. You wouldn’t say, Her will write us back.

So now can you guess which is correct? “Between you and I” or “between you and me”?

Between you and me Pinterest lionIt’s “between you and me.” Between is a preposition, so it requires an object pronoun.

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One Response to Writing Wednesday: The Proper Use of “She” and “Her” and “I” and “Me”

  1. ourhumanex says:

    Thank you very much!

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