Pronoun Misuses: How Can You Avoid Them? by Barbara McNichol

I love watching the TV show “Dancing with the Stars” but even this escape doesn’t give me a break from grammar glitches. In one episode alone, I counted four times when participants and/or hosts misused the pronouns as they spoke.Pronoun Misuses: How Can You Avoid Them? by Barbara McNichol

As a society, if we repeatedly hear words used incorrectly on national TV (and all around us), how will we ever know what’s right?

Without attempting to overcome years of grammar neglect, watch out for certain common pronoun misuses so you get a feel for what’s correct—and what’s not.

“Me and Jack” finished the report. It should be “Jack and I” finished the report.

Rule: When the subject is more than one, you need a subjective pronoun (I, she, he, we, they, who). (“Subjective” refers to the pronoun’s place in the sentence—as a subject.)

Clue: Say the sentence without “Jack.” I finished the report. Now it’s easy to tell which pronoun is correct.

“Bob hired Peggy and I to draft the proposal.” It should be “Peggy and me.”

Rule: “Peggy and me” is the object of the verb “draft” and therefore requires an objective pronoun (me, her, him, us, them, whom). (“Objective” refers to the pronoun’s place in the sentence—as an object.)

Clue: Say the sentence without “Peggy and.” Does it sound right to say “Bob hired I to draft the proposal”? You know it doesn’t!

“Between you and I, we got the job done.” It should be “you and me.”

Rule: In this sentence, “me” is the object of the preposition “between” and therefore requires an objective pronoun (me, her, him, us, them, whom).

“Roger, Lloyd, and myself finished the drawings.” It should be “Roger, Lloyd, and I finished the drawings.”

Rule: You can’t use a “-self” pronoun (myself, yourself, himself, herself, themselves, ourselves) unless it refers to another noun or pronoun used earlier in the sentence.

Clue: Look for the referring word that precedes the pronoun.

To receive a one-page chart that shows at a glance which pronouns to use where in a sentence, email me with “Proper Pronouns for Authors” in the subject line.

Author Bio:

Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping authors add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips resource so you can quickly find the right word when it matters most. It allows you to improve your writing through excellent weekly resources in your inbox, including a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks. Details at www.WordTrippers.com

3 Comments on "Pronoun Misuses: How Can You Avoid Them? by Barbara McNichol"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Carolyn Howard Johnson says:

    Barbara, I’d love to see you do an article on the difference between “as” and “since” and “because.” I often hear things like, “Since I am an author, I don’t have time to get much shopping done.” I believe most people–even authors who should know–really mean, “Because I am an author, . . . .” I can’t find where Chicago Style Book address this so I’m beginning to think it is just me!

    • What’s the difference between “because” and “since” in your writing and speaking? Both imply cause and can be interchangeable when “since” means “for the reason that.” E.g., Since my dog needs exercise, I take him for a walk. I walked daily because my dog needs exercise.

      One source suggests using “because” when the reason is the most important part of the sentence and “since” or “as” when the reason is already well known and is less important. E.g., The match was cancelled because of the rain.

      “Since,” however, also refers to a time frame. “Since we ate lunch, we had lots of energy.” This statement is ambiguous. Does it mean “from the time we had lunch” or “for the reason that we had lunch”? To avoid confusion, I recommend using “because” when your meaning relates to “cause” and “since” when it’s a factor of time.

      Want explanations for more confusing words (I call them Word Trippers)? Go to WordTrippers.com and request a free reference guide featuring common Word Trippers.

  2. I have been following your word trippers for years – – Way more than 10 years! I love the clarity of how you explain things!

Post a Comment