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  • Writer's pictureSL Eastwood

Ultimate Guide to Object and Subject Pronouns: I, Me, Who…m?

Updated: May 11

If you're perpetually stumped by when you're allowed to use "who" or "whom" you've come to the right place...


People are often confounded by the use of I, me, who and whom.


When are they correct, when aren’t they? It does seem confusing...


Many people know which words to use and when but they can’t ever seem to explain what the difference is (even when they have corrected you for the fiftieth time).


As Jake Peralta famously laments in Brooklyn 99…

“Why does the word ‘who’ even exist if you’re not allowed to say it?!”

It’s so frustrating, but once you learn the magic trick it’s such a facepalm moment that you’ll probably laugh.



Read on the ultimate guide to object and subject pronouns...


What is the difference between these such similar pronouns?

‘I’ and ‘who’ are subject pronouns and ‘me’ and ‘whom’ are object pronouns.

It’s that simple.

I understand that might not have made things any clearer. That’s because the difference between ‘subject’ vs ‘object’ isn’t always apparent or easy to ascertain based on context.


That’s why there are so many people who know which word to use in which context but can’t actually explain why they know… they just do.


For anyone who doesn’t know, in English you can either be the ‘subject’ of a sentence or the ‘object’ of one.



If you are the ‘subject’ you are the thing acting upon something else, if you are the ‘object’ you are the thing being acted upon.


Subject: I got the tickets from Joe.
Object: Joe gave me the tickets.
Subject: Who got the tickets from Joe?
Object: Joe gave whom the tickets?

An easy way to remember is that ‘object’ pronouns will often contain an ‘m’ in the spelling.


So, if you are uncertain which one is correct, then ask yourself “am I the one being acted upon?” and "does the word contain an ‘m’ ?"


There is a common misunderstanding that the phrase “so-and-so and me is never correct and that phrasing is always “so-and-so and I but this isn’t true. If you and so-and-so are being acted upon then you would be the object and therefore a ‘me’ not an ‘I’.


This is because the sentence must be correct whether or not the other person is present:

Correct: Joe gave me the tickets
Incorrect: Joe gave I the tickets

The second version would be incorrect grammar, so it is still incorrect even when Joe is giving a ticket to you and a second person.


An easy way to work this out is to remove the other person from the sentence and see how you would phrase it (without restructuring the sentence).


If in the sentence you would still be an ‘I’ then “so-and-so and I” is correct. If in the sentence you would be a ‘me’ then the correct phrasing is “so-and-so and me”.


I hope this article helped you understand the difference. Now you can be one of those unbearable pedants who corrects everyone’s grammar.



 

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