There's a hit song titled "Him and I" whose ungrammatical title and lyrics drive me nuts. A correct title would be either "Him and Me" or "He and I"--never "Him and I."
Why? Because him is an object pronoun, and I is a subject pronoun. They never belong together.
Did you know that? If you find yourself guessing which pronoun to use, why not test yourself and review the rules?
Choose the correct pronoun below.
- After the program please give the extra flyers to Janine or I / me / myself.
- Eric and I / me / myself both asked for Friday off.
- I hope Ricky will give Yvette and I / me / myself an advance copy of his book.
- Human Resources prepared the proposal with some advice from I / me / myself.
- Who / Whom have you told about the change in schedule?
- Mo will speak to whoever / whomever asks about the price increase.
- Whoever / Whomever Tim chooses, I promise to back the person 100 percent.
- Ilya and I / me / myself are leading the group together.
- Who / Whom wrote these excellent meeting minutes?
- Juana will let me know her pick, whoever / whomever it is.
How easy was it to choose the right pronoun? Do you feel confident about your answers? Compare your choices with mine below. Then review the rules if you need to.
1. me 2. I 3. me 4. me 5. Whom
6. whoever 7. Whomever 8. I 9. Who 10. whoever
Rules for Me, Myself, and I
The first-person singular pronouns me, myself, and I cause the most problems for writers and speakers. The reason is that we typically use first-person pronouns more than any others. Below are the rules you need to know to make correct choices.
Me is an object pronoun. It is used as an object of a verb or a preposition. Examples:
Jeff hired me on February 1. (Object of the verb hired.)
He called me at 4 o'clock. (Object of the verb called.)
Please give the extra flyers to me. (Object of the preposition to.)
Come with me to the conference. (Object of the preposition with.)
HR prepared the proposal with some advice from me. (Object of the preposition from.)
Don't be fooled when your sentence has a compound object. Me is still correct in sentences like these:
Jeff hired Nate and me on February 1.
He called Kumar and me at 4 o'clock.
Please give the extra flyers to Janine or me.
Come with Dane and me to the conference.
HR prepared it with some advice from Yvonne and me.
Myself is correct when it refers to an I used earlier in the sentence:
I installed the software myself.
I always check Dave's work myself.
I myself was unsure about the spelling of her name.
In the sentences above, notice that you can eliminate the pronoun myself. It is used simply to emphasize the I.
It's grammatically wrong to use myself where me belongs. For example, these sentences are incorrect:
Jeff hired Nate and myself on February 1. (Incorrect.)
Give the receipts to Alia or myself. (Incorrect.)
HR prepared the proposal with some advice from myself. (Incorrect.)
The subject pronoun I is used as the subject of a verb:
I wrote the executive summary.
I talked with Galen about his budget.
I made reservations at the restaurant.
Don't be fooled when your subject is compound. You still need I--not me:
Michael and I wrote the executive summary. (Not "Michael and me" or "Me and Michael.")
Julian and I talked with Galen about his budget. (Not "Julian and me" or "Me and Julian.")
Eric and I both asked for Friday off. (Not "Eric and me" or "Me and Eric.")
Ilya and I are leading the group together. (Not "Ilya and me" or "Me and Ilya.")
Strict grammarians also use I after a linking verb (for example, is or was). This usage is correct, but it sounds odd to the modern ear. Examples:
It is I who buy the donuts on Friday.
Did you know it was I who ate the donuts?
Who ate the donuts? It was I.
The sentences above can be rendered simply and concisely like this:
I buy the donuts on Friday.
Did you know I ate the donuts?
Who ate the donuts? I did.
Rules for Who and Whom
Who is a subject pronoun. It is used where other subject pronouns such as I and she appear.
Who is your date? (Like "She is your date.")
Do you know who called? (Like "Do you know she called?")
Who wrote these excellent meeting minutes? (Like "She wrote these excellent meeting minutes.")
Whom is an object pronoun. It comes after prepositions such as for, with, and to. It also serves as an object of verbs. Use it where you would use other object pronouns such as me and him.
For whom is this gift? (Like "It is for me.")
To whom it may concern. (Like "It may concern him.")
The tricky aspect of who and whom involves which pronoun to use when the object does not directly follow a preposition or a verb. If you remember that whom is correct as an object, you will recognize that these sentences are correct:
Whom will you invite? (Like "You will invite him.")
Whom will you vote for? (Like "You will vote for him.")
Whom have you told about the change in schedule? (Like "You have told him about the change in schedule.")
When it's important that you be correct, use the object pronoun whom in sentences like those directly above. However, if it's more important that you sound casual, you may decide to use the incorrect who.
Rules for Whoever and Whomever
Like who, whoever is a subject pronoun. Like whom, whomever is an object pronoun. But it can be tricky to recognize which pronoun is correct because of their placement in sentences.
Use whoever as a subject of a verb:
Mo will speak to whoever asks about the price increase. (Whoever is the subject of the verb asks. Ignore the preposition to.)
The prize is for whoever has the most answers correct. (Whoever is the subject of the verb has. Ignore the preposition for.)
Juana will let me know her pick, whoever it is. (Whoever is the subject complement of the verb is.)
Use whomever as an object:
Whomever Tim chooses, I promise to back the person 100 percent. (Whomever is the object of the verb chooses.)
Pick whomever you prefer to chair the meeting. (Whomever is the object of the verb prefer.)
Do you want even more information and pronoun practice? Check out these blog posts, and let me know if you have questions.
Pronoun Tip Sheet--Pass It On! (It includes another test.)
Tricky Pronouns--Whoever and Whomever (It has a test too!)