Traditionally pronouns that follow a form of "to be" must be in the nominative case as in the examples below:
It is I.
Was it they who called?
I thought it was she.
When we write, we should follow this rule. When we are speaking, however, we tend to be less formal. Our ear tells us that in casual conversation, "It is I" sounds stiff. Instead, we are more likely to say:
It is me.
Was it them who called?
I thought it was her.
This relaxed pronoun usage is acceptable in casual conversation, but would be unacceptable in formal speech or any form of writing.
Now we will discuss two more areas that often cause trouble in pronoun usage.
We remember than an appositive renames a person or thing. An apposition is a pronoun used to rename a noun for emphasis.
The apposition must be in the same case form as the noun it renames. Consider the examples below.
We (NOT us) patriotic Americans fly our flags.
The train dropped us (NOT we) travelers off at the main depot.
Both voters, Edgar and she (NOT her), decided to change the current policy.
Choose the correct apposition for this sentence:
Our class sent two helpers, Caleb and (him, he).
The apposition "Caleb and him" renames "helpers," which is a direct object, so we use the objective case pronoun:
Our class sent two helpers, Caleb and him.
In comparison sentences, a verb is sometimes omitted, often following the words than or as.
He draws better than I. ("do" is omitted)
I can climb as high as she. ("can" is omitted)
We tap dance as well as they. ("do" is omitted)
Notice that the pronouns in the sentences above are in the nominative case because they are used as the subjects of clauses whose verbs are understood (not stated).
The pronoun used in a comparison is important because it can change the meaning of the sentence:
John loves Iowa as much as she. ("does" is omitted)
[MEANING: John loves Iowa as much as she does.]
John loves Iowa as much as her. ("he loves" is omitted)
[MEANING: John loves Iowa as much as he loves her.]
Choose the correct pronoun for the following sentences.
We show correct pronoun usage: