Pronoun Case – Examples and Usage

Examples of Pronouns Case

We are going to look at the various cases of pronouns in the English language. We have three main pronouns case in the English language; subjective, objective and possessive cases. Before going to these cases, it is important to note that most of the nouns, a number of indefinite pronouns and the pronouns ‘it’ and ‘you’ usually take a very different form especially in the possessive case.

For such nouns and indefinite pronouns, their possessive form is usually denoted by an apostrophe.

For example:

  • Peter’scat
  • Someone’scar
  • States’rules
  • Another’slove

For the case of ‘it’ adding an ‘s’ changes it to a possessive form. For ‘you’, to make it in the possessive form, you need to add an ‘r’ or ‘rs’ after the word.

Note that, you should never include an apostrophe when writing ‘it’ in the possessive form.

Now let’s look at the three main possessive cases:

Subjective pronouns

Also known as nominative pronouns, the subjective pronouns include: I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they, and who. The subjective pronoun stands as the subject of the sentence.

Examples:

  • I have a new shirt in the closet
  • You have a nice dress
  • He has a big cup
  • We could run to them
  • They could reach us today
  • Who should be called?

Objective Pronouns

This is also known as the accusative pronoun. The following are some of the objective pronouns; me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them and whom.

Note that, ‘it’ and ‘you’ also fall in this class.

The objective case is usually applied when someone or something is receiving an action.

Let’s make this clear using some examples:

  • You could have listened to him
  • Please buy all of us some mangoes
  • Kindly get me that envelope
  • Why should I consider you?
  • Do we have to wait for them?

Possessive pronouns

These pronouns are used to show ownership. We have two types of possessive pronouns; the first type is used alongside nouns my, your, his, her, your, its, their, and our. The second type of possessive pronouns is also referred to as independent possessive pronouns by because they work on their own. They include; mine, his, hers, ours, yours and theirs.

The purpose of a possessive pronoun is to show that someone or something belongs to something or someone.

Examples in sentences

  • This is my car
  • That car is mine
  • The horse is theirs
  • It’s their care
  • The cat is scratching its ear.

Having gone through the three types of possessive pronouns, let’s now look the rules of their application.

Application of Pronouns Case

We have known the different types of pronouns, now what remains is how to apply them.

The following are the rules for applying pronouns.

Rule 1

To show the subject of a verb, the nominative case is used. Just as a reminder, the subject is the pronoun or noun that receives an action.

For example:

  1. I know of no other student in the school who is as genius as he/him

In this sentence, the verb is ‘is’ and ‘he’ is the subject of the verb, therefore we have:

I know of no other student in the school who is as genius as he

  1. Who/whom do you think is the best student?

The verb is ‘is’ and the subject is ‘who’ this means that the sentence would be

Who do you think is the best student?

This rule has one exception. If the pronoun is employed as the subject of an infinitive, then it should take the objective case.

For example:

Peter expects Mary and (i/me) to make beef stew.

Because of the infinitive to make, then our sentence will take the pronoun ‘me’.

Hence:

Peter expects Mary and me to make beef stew.

Rule 2

If a pronoun is used in the form of a predicate nominative, then it takes the nominative case. A predicate nominative is a pronoun or noun after something that is going to be e.g. might have been, is, and was. The predicate nominatives always pose a lot of challenges, because many people tend to ignore it.

What we are trying to say that if a predicate nominative is used in a sentence, then it should be strictly followed by a subjective pronoun.

For example:

It was we

‘Was’ is the predicate nominative and ‘we’ is the nominative case.

Another example:

It was they/them who came up with the idea of having a party

We have a predicate nominative (was) here and therefore we have to take ‘they’ as our pronoun

It was they who came up with the idea of having a party

Rule 3

If the pronoun is receiving an action in the sentence, the objective case is used.

For example:

  1. Who/whom can you refer to for help?

From this sentence, we can clearly note that the direct object to the verb can refer is whom. This then means the sentence should read:

Whom can you refer to for help?

  1. The mechanic promised to inform Peter and i/me of his plans for the car

Peter and ‘me’ are the direct objects of the infinitive to inform, hence;

The mechanic promised to inform Peter and me of his plans for the car

  • It is always a struggle for we/us students to have a full day lecture

In this sentence, we have ‘us’ as the direct object of ‘for’ (the preposition)

This means that the sentence should read:

It is always a struggle for us students to have a full day lecture

  1. The book gave my brother and i/me some wonderful thoughts

My brother and ‘me’ are the indirect objects of ‘gave’ the verb.

Hence the sentence should be written as:

The book gave my brother and me some wonderful thoughts.

It is easy to test whether a word is an indirect object. This can be done by inserting for or to and checking whether the meaning of the sentence is change. If it doesn’t then it is an indirect object.

For example:

The book gave to my sister and to me some wonderful thoughts.

Rule 4

A pronoun that is employed in a sentence as an appositive follows the case of the noun. An appositive is a pronoun or a noun used after another pronoun or noun for the purpose of identifying, renaming or explaining it.

For example:

Two students, Peter and he/him were announced the best in the class

Here the noun ‘students’ is in the nominative case and therefore the pronoun should be nominative ‘he’

Hence we have:

Two students, Peter and he were announced the best in the class

Rule 5

To show ownership, the possessive case is applied

Example:

The student failed to accept the paper was hers

Hers in this sentence shows that the paper belonged to the student and not anyone else.

The challenge that usually arises, in this case, is confusing between the possessive pronouns and contractions.

To help you not to make such a mistake in future, the following is a small pronoun chart showing the differences between possessive pronouns and contractions.

Possessive pronounsContractions
Your  (belongs to you)You’re You – are
Its (belongs to it)It’s – it is
Whose (belongs to whom)Who’s – who is
Their (belongs to them)They’re – they are

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The teacher disapproves of me/my submitting assignments late

This sentence requires the possessive case which is ‘my’.

Hence:

The teacher disapproves of my submitting assignments late

Rule 6

After linking verbs, the subjective case should be applied.

Note that when you are linking a verb you are trying to connect it to a subject that replaces it. Since the pronoun that comes after linking a verb replaces the subject, then it is obvious that it should take the subjective case.

For example:

  1. The flag bearer was I/me

Here we take I because it replaces the subject, flag bearer

  1. The person who will learn from this event is they and me/I

We also take I in this case because it replaces the subject, the person.

Rule 7

For intensive and reflective situations, we use pronouns ending with –self/selves

The best student embarrassed himself in front of everyone.

Unfortunately, the students had to rely on themselves to win the competition.

Note that, reflective pronouns should not at any time used to replace objects and/or subjects.

For example:

  • The teacher and myself/I had a long discussion
  • In this case, we take I, hence we have:
  • The teacher and I had a long discussion.

For intensive pronouns, we all know that their purpose in a sentence is to provide emphasis that is to make another word have a stronger meaning.

For example:

  • I carried this bag myself
  • Did you yourself manage to solve that problem?
  • The best student felt that his success itself depended on him.

This guide has clarified to you, different pronoun cases available and examples.