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Slip-ups: Subject, object cases

BY: Junior Graphic

I have these two young friends in my hometown who sent me this text message last Sunday when they learnt I was in town:

US AND AUNTIE KATE WILL COME THERE.

Needless to say, this sentence is incorrect, and while we can say that we can pardon these young boys for at least trying to put something together in English, we must add that many users of English commit the same mistake the two young boys have committed here.

In the sentence above, Paa Kwasi and Owuraku have made two mistakes:

  1. They have used the incorrect case of the personal pronoun (US) as part of the subject of the sentence.
  2. They have also gone against the order in which personal pronouns are arranged when you’re using two or all three personal pronouns in one sentence.

Let’s look at the first mistake:

the use of the incorrect case as one of the subjects of the sentence.

In English, the case of a pronoun shows whether that pronoun is performing an action or receiving an action.

When a pronoun is used to perform an action, that pronoun is said to be in the subject case.

Egs:

I caned the lazy boy.

She bit one of my fingers.

They come here every Sunday.

We fetch water to our teacher’s house every morning.

In these sentences, the pronouns I, she, they and we are in the subject case because they are used to perform the actions cane, bite, come and fetch, respectively.

When a pronoun is used to receive an action, that pronoun is said to be in the object case.

Egs:

The teacher caned me.

Mum sends them to school every day.

The boy bit her.

Out teacher punished us.

The pronouns me, them, her and us are in the object case because they are receiving the actions cane, send, bite and punish, respectively.

Bear in mind that it is incorrect to use a pronoun in the subject case to receive an action, as in:

The girl bit he/she/they/I.

Mr Ofosu punished I/we/ she/he.

In just the same way, it is incorrect to use a pronoun in the object case to perform an action, as in:

Me beat the juniors.

Us will come to see you soon.

Her insulted the prefects.

As we can see, the pronouns I, HE/SHE, WE and THEY are in the subject case, while ME, HIM/HER, US and THEM are in the object case.

So Paa and Owuraku should have written:

WE AND AUNTIE KATE WILL COME THERE.

This is because both the pronoun we and the proper noun Auntie Kate are performing the action will come.

(To be continued.)