Pronouns are small (I, me, he, she, it), but they are among the biggest troublemakers in the language.
For example, in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia cried "Woe is me," which in today's formalized English should be "Woe is I." See the trouble?
The English section of the ACT contains 75 questions, which you must answer in 45 minutes. More than 50 percent of the English section tests standard English conventions, such as sentence structure and formation, punctuation and usage. Pronouns are a part of these conventions.
You all know what pronouns are, so we will not discuss that here. You also know how to use them: a substitute for a noun. Things get complicated when pronouns take on different guises, depending on the roles in plays in the sentence. Some pronouns are so well disguised that you may not be able to tell one from another. The usual suspects are: that and which; it's and its; who's and whose; who and whom; everybody and nobody; and their, they're, and theirs.
The 'Which' Trials
Image from Pixabay
Which sentence sounds right to you? If both did, you got 'which-ed'! The first sentence with 'that' is the correct usage. A lot of students (and adults) have problems with that-versus-which. Here are two rules that can help you figure out whether a clause should start with that or which.
Let's look at these sentences:
The point of each sentence is that Buster's bulldog won. What happens when we remove the that or which clause? In the first example, the which clause is disposable. We can just say: Buster's bulldog won best in show. In the second example, however, the that clause (that won best in show) is essential. Without it the sentence would read: The dog was Buster's bulldog, which is a different meaning that the dog that won best in show was Buster's bulldog.
Who vs. Whom
When do you 'who' and when do you use 'whom'? Keep it simple! The most important thing to know is that who does something (it's a subject, like she), and whom has something done to it (it's an object, like her). Sometimes it can get tricky. Let's see the following examples:
Is it 'who' or 'whom'? If you strip off all the words between the subject and verb, you end up with who ... used math for fashion. 'Who' did something (used math for fashion), so it's the subject. 'Whom' does not work.
First strip the sentence down to the basic clause, [who or whom] he invited. You can see that whom is the object--he did something to (invited) whom--even though whom comes ahed of both the subject and the verb.
More than Meets the I
Many smart people hesitate about I vs me, he vs him, she vs her, and they vs them. How do we use them correctly? It all depends on the context. Let's look at the following examples:
So the usage of I vs me depends on the context, i.e., what you are trying to communicate.
The Many Selves
Students (and adults) often confuse the usage of 'I' and 'myself' and the rest of the 'self' crew (yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves). The key point about the 'self' crew is that they should not take the place of ordinary pronouns I and me, she or her, and so on. They are used only for two purposes:
There are some other pesky pronouns, but that topic is for another blog.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.