A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. In the sentence, "Joe saw Jill, and he waved at her,"
the pronouns he and her take the place of Joe and Jill, respectively. Sometimes writers confuse subject and object pronouns.
- Incorrect: Stephanie is smarter than me.
- Correct: Stephanie is smarter than I.
In this example, the pronoun functions as the subject; the "am" is implied in the correct sentence.
- Incorrect: Daniel went to the store with Lisa and I.
- Correct: Daniel went to the store with Lisa and me.
In this example, the pronoun functions as the object of the sentence. The pronouns who, that and which become singular or plural depending on the subject. If the subject is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.
Example: He is the only one of those men who is always on time. The word who refers to one. Therefore, use the singular verb is. Sometimes we must look more closely to find a verb’s true subject.
Example: He is one of those men who are always on time. The word who refers to men. Therefore, use the plural verb are. In sentences like this last example, many would mistakenly insist that one is the subject, requiring is always on time. But look at it this way: Of those men who are always on time, he is one. Pronouns that are singular (I, he, she, everyone, everybody, anyone, anybody, no one, nobody, someone, somebody, each, either, neither, etc.) require singular verbs. This rule is frequently overlooked when using the pronouns each, either and neither, followed by of. Those three pronouns take singular verbs. Do not be misled by what follows "of."
- Each of the girls sings well.
- Either of us is capable of doing the job.
- Neither of them is available to speak right now.
When "each" follows a noun or pronoun in certain sentences, even experienced writers sometimes can become confused.
- Incorrect: The women each gave her approval.
- Correct: The women each gave their approval.
- Incorrect: The words "are and "there" each ends with a silent vowel.
- Correct: The words "are" and "there" each end with a silent vowel.
"Each" is not the subject but rather an adjunct describing the true subject. Reflexive pronouns return the action to the actor. Without them, we might be stuck with sentences like Joe helped Joe.
- Incorrect: See myself with questions.
- Correct: If you have questions, see me.
- Correct: I did it myself.
- Correct: He gave himself a haircut.
When a pronoun is linked with a noun by "and," mentally remove the and + noun phrase to avoid trouble.
- Incorrect: Her and her friend came over.
- Correct: She and her friend came over.
If we remove and her friend, we have the incorrect Her came over.