Grammar Wednesday

I promised you pronouns last week, forgetting that last week was our break.  Sorry.

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun (go here to see the Schoolhouse Rock production of pronouns; it’s a catchy tune).

Subjective pronouns stand in as the subject of a sentence.  They are:

I                     we

you                 you

he/she/it       they

To figure out whether you need a subjective pronoun, try fitting it into this sentence:

have a hard time remembering picky grammar rules. (Note that the verb has to change for the 3nd person form (he/she/it HAS a hard time) but the idea is the same.)

Objective pronouns serve as an object in a sentence.  They are:

me                  us

you                you

him/her/it    them

Again, use a sentence to make sure you’re doing it right:

When you get home, don’t forget to call   . (Note here that “you” doesn’t work, but it doesn’t change from subjective to objective, either, so it’s not that big a deal.)

When you  have more than one person (or thing)  in a grammatical structure, leave everyone (or everything) but the pronoun out to see if you’ve got it right:

My father gave the present to my two brothers and I. Take out “two brothers’ and you’re left with “my father gave the present to I,” which isn’t grammatical.  “My father gave the present to my two brothers and me is correct.

Her and I are the recipients of the latest round of pink slips. Here, you’d need to change the verb to make the sentence work, but the idea is still the same.  We don’t say Her is the recipient,” so we know that the pronoun needs to be “she.”

There are about a zillion other pronouns , but these are the ones that give people the most trouble.

Happy Wednesday!



Filed under Grammar

6 responses to “Grammar Wednesday

  1. Melissa

    How do you present this grammar material to your students? Do you make them take notes? I know you say you make them practice — do they rework incorrect sentences? Write their own? Do worksheets? I’d love to hear what you’ve found successful in your room. I need some effective grammar strategies!

    • Melissa, I worksheet the CRAP out of them. No, really; I like these sites for practice exercises: – this site has online AND printable worksheets (and some of the example sentences are ridiculous, which makes practice more fun) – really; everything you need to know about grammar is here. – I thought about signing up for their pay-for materials, but decided against it; I’ve got plenty of other resources I can use for free. – really, any good college online writing lab is going to get you some great resources.

      I’ve got a bunch of other resources bookmarked on my school computer; if I can remember, I’ll post them tomorrow.

      Honestly? MOST of their little lightbulbs turn on when I give them the “use a sentence” and “take out everything but the pronoun” trick. They’ll still mess up when speaking, but rarely will they write the wrong pronoun once they “get it” with my sentence idea. Once they get the basics down, though, I ditch the worksheets and make them use their own writing as practice. My evil plan is to get them to hate the worksheets SO MUCH that they’ll actually be relieved when we start daily writing practice. I’ll let you know how that goes with this group…

  2. Melissa

    Thanks for the links!

    You know what, Chili? I was kind of afraid you would say “WORKSHEETS? No way! Using worksheets with grammar instruction is terrible!!” (Some of the teachers at my school have these terrible knee-jerk reaction to worksheets and act like every single worksheet used in class is an affront to the gods of teaching. I’m getting a little paranoid.)

    My kids are remedial high schoolers and really struggle with the basics — subject and verb agreement, parallel structure in sentences, writing complete sentences — and I feel like I need to do more practice with worksheet-type of materials before turning them on their own writing. I’m really glad to hear you do that.

  3. Hi:

    The pronoun problem that gets to me is when people use the expression “between you and I” — and then correct others for saying (or writing) “between you and me,” which is the correct form.

    People have been conditioned to have a knee-jerk reaction to “you and me” that they think it is ALWAYS wrong.


    • Yeah, that’s one that makes me cringe a little every time, too, Jose. I’ll correct my students, but I can’t bring myself to correct the guy at the hardware store, you know?

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