by Davy Kraken
A library featuring commonly committed errors of the English language.
|What are nominative and objective pronouns? Well, it all has to do with the difference between words like I and me or who and whom. It is common to use the incorrect case in informal conversation, so having characters in a story of yours who don’t always use perfect English won’t hurt it; in fact, the dialogue will seem more authentic. If you are writing a formal paper or third-person omniscient narration for a story and the speaker is clearly “you,” on the other hand, then it is wise to attempt to learn this correctly and make a good impression on people.
The first word in each of the following rows is the nominative pronoun, and the second word is the corresponding objective pronoun, some of which are the same.
In general, nominative pronouns are used as the subjects of a sentence, while objective pronouns are, as the name suggests, used as the objects. A subject performs an action, and an object is a recipient of an action. I will supply some similar paired examples to illustrate the distinction.
She and I took a walk in the park.
Our dog, Fido, accompanied me and her as we walked in the park.
We have never met them before.
They have never met us before.
He was an absolutely wonderful host.
I have never seen a host as wonderful as he.
Did that last one trick you? Keep in mind that it is not a requirement that nominative pronouns appear near the beginning of a sentence and objective pronouns appear near the end. The last word in the final sentence is he and not him because there is an implicit “was” afterwards. The above sentence might sound strange as it currently stands, but which of the following sentences sounds stranger now? The first one, hopefully.
I have never seen a host as wonderful as him was.
I have never seen a host as wonderful as he was.
Hey, you, get back here! I’m not finished yet! In addition to subjects, there is another group of words that calls for a nominative pronoun. Their technical designation is predicate nominative, and they are pronouns that are a mirror of the subject. The subsequent examples will show what I mean. These may sound strange, but believe me when I say they’re correct.
It is not she.
That was I.
Who were they?
Actually, the last one doesn’t sound strange at all. Notice that in each case the pronoun is referring to the subject of the sentence, be it “it,” “that,” or “who.” Also notice that the verb in each sentence is a variant of “to be.” Although, in general, a predicate nominative doesn’t have to be linked to the subject by that verb, I can’t think of any such examples with a pronoun as the predicate nominative. But if you ever want to check, replace the linking verb with the proper form of “to be” and see if the sentence is still coherent. If it is, then you have a predicate nominative.