[Ads-l] "him" et al.

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jul 20 16:15:24 UTC 2015


Another way of looking at it is that the object in such cases *isn't* a simple pronoun (him, her, me) but the conjunction that's the object of the preposition "to": "X and the children", "the children and Y".  While English speakers have rules (usually a shared rule) on what case to assign to a subject (I spoke to her, She spoke to me, *Me spoke to she), they/we don't have rules, especially shared rules, on what case to assign to pronouns *within* a subject or *within* an object of a verb or preposition (The children and me/I were upset, It was traumatic to he/him and the children).  Crucially in that case, the pronoun *isn't* the subject/object, so all (or at least many) bets are off.  The prescriptive rule is that the case of such pronouns must be the case that a pronoun would have if it weren't part of a conjunction, but that's not a rule that's subscribed to by actual speakers nearly as universally as the rule that subject pronouns are I, he, she, we, they, etc. or the rule that object pronouns are me, him, her, us, them, etc.

But Arnold is the expert here on such matters, so I defer to him.

LH

> On Jul 20, 2015, at 11:42 AM, Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
> 
> It is my impression that people usually use the appropriate form of pronouns as objects of verbs and prepositions when the pronoun appears alone, but often the "wrong" form when the pronoun appears with another object (whether pronoun or noun).  My data comes primarily from the two people I speak with most often -- although there may be a genetic predisposition: they are mother and daughter.
> 
> 
> "The Father testified that the change in the parenting plan reducing his time with the children was traumatic to both he and the children"
> 
> Written by a professional (but occasionally disbarred or censured) lawyer in a brief.  I suspect he would have not written "traumatic to he."
> 
> 
> Joel
> 
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