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Slip-ups: Subject, object cases (2)

BY: Junior Graphic

Last week we began looking at the message my two young friends Paa Kwasi and Owuraku had sent me:

US AND AUNTIE KATE WILL COME THERE.

We said the sentence is incorrect because the pronoun us, which is in the object case, has been used as one of the two subjects of the sentence, and that Paa Kwasi and Owuraku should have used the subject case we, so that we have:

WE AND AUNTIE KATE WILL COME THERE.

Now, we don’t usually see or hear sentences in which the object cases of pronouns are used as subjects of sentences.

So we don’t see or hear sentences such as:

Me did the work the other day.

Us go to school every day.

Him deserves a commendation.

Them want to take over the company.

In the same way, we normally don’t see or hear sentences in which the subject cases of pronouns are used to receive action, as in:

The teacher punished they.

A boy has hit she.

People hate he for his arrogance.

Daddy sent we to buy newspapers for him.

The problem concerning the incorrect use of pronouns, either as subject cases or object cases, arises when the pronouns are combined with nouns (proper or common) to form double or plural subjects or objects of verbs.

For instance, in the sentence under discussion:

US AND AUNTIE KATE WILL COME THERE

the pronoun US and the noun Auntie Kate are the two subjects of the verb will come and that is why the pronoun should be in the subject case, WE, not the object case US.

If Paa Kwasi and Owuraku were using only the pronoun as the subject, they would likely have used it in the subject case, WE, for the sentence to be:

WE WILL COME THERE.

So, anytime you are faced with the problem of which form of the pronoun to use in combination with a noun, first determine whether that pronoun and the noun are being used as the subject of a verb or the object of a verb.

If they are being used as the subject of a verb, then the pronoun must be in the subject case, as in:

The boy and SHE are classmates.

Daddy and I will do that work.

THEY and the man live in the same area.

If the pronoun and the noun are being used as the object of a verb, then the pronoun must be in the object case, as in:

Mr Osei punished Aba and ME.

The man gave Kofi and US some money.

People like the girls and HIM.

Note that in all the examples above, if we leave out the nouns used with the pronouns, we will have sentences such as:

The man gave US some money (NOT The man gave WE some money).

People like HIM (NOT People like HE).