Subject and object pronouns and garbled past participles

Yes, you even hear it on TV from newscasters and newsmakers. Example: “They had a big surprise for Jane and I.” Same person would never in a million years say, “They had a big surprise for I.”  Unless, of course, you’re Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire (or was that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?)

Look at some teeth grinding examples of misused pronouns:

  1. The family went to visit she and Tom.
  2. The boss said it was a perfect job for I.
  3. Him and Jerry are the best players on the team.
  4. Her and Sally are my sisters.
  5. Us and Mary went to the movies last night.

 In most cases, the problem arises with compound objects, i.e., Marian gave a ride to Jerry and I yesterday. No, she gave the ride to me…Jerry and me! Sometimes, however, it’s compound subjects that create the grammar faux pas, i.e., Jerry and me both want to go to the movies. Me want to go to the movies? I don’t think so unless pidgin is your native language.

 It’s amazing that native speakers of English could go through 10 to 12 years of classes and not learn how to use pronouns. It’s also astonishing that after all those verbs conjugated in class, people still misuse past participles. “I seen him in town yesterday.” Groan. And past tense of irregular verbs? Take the verb “cast,” for example. The same news reporter who would never say, “I casted my line into the lake,” will often say, “Yesterday, the weatherman forecasted rain for today.” That’s like fingernails on the chalkboard for those who are old enough to know what a chalkboard is.

 The more I listen to Americans talk, the less hope I have for saving the language.

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