Is It Him and I or Him and Me?
Posted by languageandgrammar on November 9, 2008
I’ve already written some general information about pronouns, but I think that it might be more helpful if I tackle them individually.
Here, I’ll talk about the personal pronouns him and I versus him and me.
Let’s get a couple of things straight. First, in choosing which personal pronouns to use, we have two groups: nominative and objective. Nominative personal pronouns are used as subjects, and objective personal pronouns are used as objects. Second, the nominative pronouns are I, he, she, we, and they; the objective pronouns are me, him, her, us, and them. You (singular), you (plural), and it are both nominative and objective and can be used in either case.
Now, when choosing personal pronoun pairs—in this case, him and I or him and me—–the next thing to keep in mind is that both pronouns must be of the same type; that is, either both must be nominative or both must be objective. Therefore, you can never use him and I together as either a compound subject or object because him is objective and I is nominative. It must be either him and me or he and I.
The next step is to find out how you determine whether you need either him and me or he and I in any particular sentence. Well, you can either read what I’ve already written on the subject (Fun with Pronouns), or you can just keep right on reading here.
Find the verb in the sentence. If the verb already has a subject, then you can’t use nominatives, and you’ll find that what you’re looking for are objectives. If the verb does not have a subject, then what you’re looking for are nominatives.
Ex: Him and me/He and I cheated on the test. The verb is cheated. Ask yourself who or what cheated; that’s the subject. Since that’s what we’re trying to determine in this sentence, you’re looking for a subject in this case, and you know that nominatives are subjects, and you also know that he and I are nominative pronouns, so the correct sentence is He and I cheated on the test.
Ex: The teacher was justified in giving detention to he and I/him and me. The verb is was justified. Ask yourself who or what was justified; that’s the subject. In this sentence, it was the teacher who was justified, so we already have the subject, so we can’t use nominatives. We must, then, be in need of objectives here, and if we examine the sentence further, we see that we do, indeed, need an object of the preposition to (the teacher was justified in giving detention to whom or to what?). We know that him and me are objective pronouns, so the correct sentence is The teacher was justified in giving detention to him and me.
For more common grammar errors, refer to Sherry’s Grammar List.
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