What Are Objective Personal Pronouns? (with Examples)
Objective Personal PronounsThe objective personal pronouns are "me," "you," "him," "her," "it," "us," "them," and "whom."
Objective personal pronouns are used when a pronoun is an object in sentence. There are three types of object:
- Direct Object. The direct object is the thing being acted on by the verb. For example:
- They caught her last week. ("Her" is the direct object of the verb "caught." "Her" is an objective personal pronoun. It is the objective-case version of the subjective personal pronoun "she.")
- Indirect Object. The indirect object of a sentence is the recipient of the direct object. For example:
- I sent him a letter. ("Him" is the indirect object of the verb "sent", i.e., the recipient of "a letter," which is the direct object. "Him" is the objective-case version of "he.")
- Object of a Preposition. The object of a preposition is the noun or pronoun governed by a preposition. For example:
- It is a donation from them. ("Them" is the object of the preposition "from." "Them" is the objective-case version of "they.")
Objective personal pronouns are personal pronouns in the objective case. The objective case contrasts with the subjective case, which is used to show the subject of a verb. Here are two more examples to highlight this point:
- They know him. ("They" is the subjective case. "Him" is the objective case.)
- He knows them. ("He" is the subjective case. "Them" is the objective case.)
Examples of Objective Personal Pronouns As Direct ObjectsHere are some examples of objective personal pronouns as direct objects:
- Democracy is the name we give the people whenever we need them.
- To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad. (Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes) (In this example, "you" is also an objective personal pronoun. It's an object of preposition. See below.)
- I'm a godmother. That's a great thing to be, a godmother. She calls me God for short. That's cute. I taught her that. (Comedian Ellen DeGeneres) (In this example, "her" is also an objective personal pronoun. It's an indirect object. See below.)
Examples of Objective Personal Pronouns As Indirect ObjectsHere are some examples of objective personal pronouns as indirect objects:
- Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money. (Playwright Arthur Miller)
- The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. (Writer Samuel Johnson)
- I'm a godmother. That's a great thing to be, a godmother. She calls me God for short. That's cute. I taught her that. (Comedian Ellen DeGeneres) (In this example, "me" is also an objective personal pronoun. It's a direct object. See above.)
Examples of Objective Personal Pronouns As the Objects of PrepositionsHere are some examples of objective personal pronouns as the objects of prepositions (prepositions in bold):
- All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed. (Dramatist Sean O'Casey)
- To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad. (Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes) (In this example, "him" is also an objective personal pronoun. It's a direct object. See above.)
- Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. (President Abraham Lincoln)
Read more about prepositions.
Not All the Pronouns Change Their FormsObjects (i.e., direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions) are always in the objective case. In English, this only affects pronouns (but not all pronouns). Here is a table:
|Subjective Pronoun||Objective Pronoun||Comment|
|who||whom||More on who & whom|
Why Should I Care about the Objective Personal Pronouns?Here are three good reasons to care about the objective case.
(Reason 1) This is essential for learning a foreign language.In English, only some pronouns change when they're used as objects. In other words, only words like "I," "he," "she," "we," and "they" change to "me," "him," "her," "us," and "them."
Even though using the objective personal pronouns might come naturally in English, that is usually far from true when learning a foreign language (especially as their articles ("a," "an," "the") and adjectives are likely to change too when they're used as objects). For example:
|Language||Subjective Case||Objective Case|
|English||one small dog||I have one small dog.|
(There is no change.)
|German||ein kleiner Hund||Ich habe einen kleinen Hund.|
(The article and adjective change if it's an object.)
|Bosnian||jedan mali pas||Imam jednog malog psa.|
(The article, adjective, and noun change if it's an object.)
(Reason 2) Don't confuse "who" and "whom."Use "whom" if it's an object. For example:
- You've hired whom? (Here, "whom" is a direct object.)
- You sent whom a message? ("Whom" is an indirect object.)
- The spotlight was on whom? ("Whom" is the object of a preposition.)
- Who paid Anthony? (Here, "who" is the subject of the verb "paid.")
(Reason 3) "I" can't be an object."I" cannot be an object (a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition). Be particularly careful when using a term like "my wife and I" or "between you and me."
- They invited my wife and I.
- They invited me and my wife.
- Between you and I, I think it's a joke.
- Between you and me, I think it's a joke.
Read more about "my wife and I/me" on the personal pronouns page (see Point 1).