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Back to School with Her and I

Whether to Use Subjective or Objective Pronouns

After much pondering and many long discussions with my wife, I have decided to jump into the race for President of the United States 2028. I know it's a little early, and the campaign will be arduous, but I have been preparing myself for a long while, practicing the victory sign with both hands at the same time.


My platform is simple, one plank: I pledge to the American people to wage war on one of the most insidious threats to the American way of life since Ben Franklin flew a kite in a storm. The VFW, NOW, DAR, AIM, MADD, NAACP, ASPCA, MLA, NRA, LBJ, and JFK all support my campaign and have contributed heavily.


The Lesson

We all want the best for our kids. Help them get the best by encouraging them to speak and write correctly. Here’s a humble beginning; no more “Me and himming”:

Subjective Pronouns

I, you, he, she, it, we, they

These pronouns refer to people and things that do stuff, like go to movies. They are subjects:

She and I went to a movie.

Objective Pronouns

me, you (again), him, her, it (again), us, them

These are the people and things to which stuff is done, like getting run ragged. They are objects:

Coach ran him and me ragged.


A kid-friendly hint: have them try one subjective pronoun at a time; point out they would never say, “Me (or her) went to a movie.” That’s how they can check: “I went to a movie.” “She went to a movie.” “She and I went to a movie.” They’ll get that.


Same for the objective pronouns: They would never say, “Coach ran he (or I) ragged.” Again, have them try one at a time: “Coach ran him ragged.” “Coach ran me ragged.” “Coach ran him and me ragged.” That’s the tough one; although it’s correct, it sounds weird.

Yes, I am talking about the pervasive, relentless, unmitigated, diabolical flipping around of subjective and objective pronouns. If we do not act decisively, the "me-‘n-himmers" will soon be old enough to procreate. What will happen if a "me-‘n-himmer" hooks up with a "her-‘n-Ier?" Can you imagine the sentences that will come out of the mouths of their offspring? “Me and him bought her and I Jimmy Choo handbags.”


How will I implement my plan? First, I will create youth groups, young women and men who will wear red arm bands with slogans, “Lips that touch bad grammar shall never touch mine.” Stuff like that. I also plan to resurrect the pillory, that thing where you put your head and hands through and they lower the top half, so you look stupid with your head hanging through a hole. I know there’s one in Williamsburg, and I think Boston has a couple.


But I can’t do this alone. I need the help of every adult, especially coaches, teachers, and parents. Tell the kids, “You may say anything you want to around your friends, but you may not sound stupid in this house (on this court, field, track, diamond, in this classroom).” You wouldn’t let them drive on bald tires; don’t let them shoot their futures in the foot by getting used to bad grammar.


Reality check: Most children listen to their parents, but would never let their parents know. When your children climb into their twenties, you will have a lot of good laughs with them, as you discover they were listening the whole time.


Now, parents, if you will, I need a few moments alone with your kids. Are they gone? Okay, kids, here’s the deal: Your parents’ greatest fears are that you will contract some terrible disease, get hooked on drugs, be in a horrific car accident, or use “Me and her” as a compound subject in a college interview.


Fact: When the college interviewer says, “Tell me about your best friend and what the two of you like to do together,” she wants you to say, “Me and him play Destiny and hang out,” so she can quickly cross another name off her long list. Next! Why not ruin her process with, “He and I hitchhiked from Lake George to El Paso to get closer to real Americans, and that experience has helped him and me to understand more about our country. When we were in Appalachia . . . .”


A few more thoughts: Unless you are standing in the shadow of El Capitan or staring at a leafy sea dragon, it’s time to retire “awesome.” Do not use it when you’re working at BCBGMAXAZRIA and a customer tells you he has correct change. Also, do not have this conversation with yourself while within ten feet of another person: “So he tells me this, and I’m like. And he’s like. So I’m like. You know? Then he goes, ehh. And I’m like, whoa.”

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Here’s the cool part about learning grammar: You can correct your parents. Because just between you and me, they do it, too. They need your help. Every time you hear one of them use “me” or “him” (or both) as a subject, tell them they owe you a quarter. For example, “Me and Kelly’s dad are driving to lacrosse this week.” That’s two bits in your pocket. You can make a lot of money, more than you could with a paper route (never mind), and you don’t have to get up so early. You may go now.


Kids are gone now, parents; just us again. So here's my plan going forward: once we have them (and ourselves) using subjective and objective pronouns properly, we can move on to “could of” and “should of.” Then maybe “lay” and “lie,” or “This is a preposition,” but I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.


In the meantime, please join me in my quest and elect me President of the United States, for the future of our children and our children’s children. And our children’s children’s children. And our children’s children’s children’s children. And anyone alive in 4973.


P. S. As I was writing this Tip, I saw an article on a study by the Pew Research Center that compared the Millennials’ reading habits to those of the Baby Boomers. Guess what, Boomers? Millennials read more than we do. And, bless them, they are more likely to say there’s a lot of really great information out there that’s not found on the Internet!


WordRake won't show them how to use that information in a school report or college essay, but it will help them remove useless words and phrases in their writing, which will move them faster along the road to higher grades. Theyand youshould try it free for 7 days. It works on a PC or a Mac.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

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