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   Chapter 34 NOMINATIVE AND OBJECTIVE FORMS.

An English Grammar By William Malone Baskervill Characters: 8733

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


398. Since most of the personal pronouns, together with the relative who, have separate forms for nominative and objective use, there are two general rules that require attention.

General rules.

(1) The nominative use is usually marked by the nominative form of the pronoun.

(2) The objective use is usually marked by the objective form of the pronoun.

These simple rules are sometimes violated in spoken and in literary English. Some of the violations are universally condemned; others are generally, if not universally, sanctioned.

Objective for the nominative.

399. The objective is sometimes found instead of the nominative in the following instances:-

(1) By a common vulgarism of ignorance or carelessness, no notice is taken of the proper form to be used as subject; as,-

He and me once went in the dead of winter in a one-hoss shay out to Boonville.-Whitcher, Bedott Papers.

It seems strange to me that them that preach up the doctrine don't admire one who carrys it out.-Josiah Allens Wife.

(2) By faulty analysis of the sentence, the true relation of the words is misunderstood; for example, "Whom think ye that I am?" (In this, whom is the complement after the verb am, and should be the nominative form, who.) "The young Harper, whom they agree was rather nice-looking" (whom is the subject of the verb was).

Especially is this fault to be noticed after an ellipsis with than or as, the real thought being forgotten; thus,-

But the consolation coming from devotion did not go far with such a one as her.-Trollope.

This should be "as she," because the full expression would be "such a one as she is."

400. Still, the last expression has the support of many good writers, as shown in the following examples:-

She was neither better bred nor wiser than you or me.-Thackeray.

No mightier than thyself or me.-Shakespeare.

Lin'd with Giants deadlier than 'em all.-Pope.

But he must be a stronger than thee.-Southey.

Not to render up my soul to such as thee.-Byron.

I shall not learn my duty from such as thee.-Fielding.

A safe rule.

It will be safer for the student to follow the general rule, as illustrated in the following sentences:-

If so, they are yet holier than we.-Ruskin.

Who would suppose it is the game of such as he?-Dickens.

Do we see

The robber and the murd'rer weak as we?

-Milton.

I have no other saint than thou to pray to.-Longfellow.

"Than whom."

401. One exception is to be noted. The expression than whom seems to be used universally instead of "than who." There is no special reason for this, but such is the fact; for example,-

One I remember especially,-one than whom I never met a bandit more gallant.-Thackeray.

The camp of Richard of England, than whom none knows better how to do honor to a noble foe.-Scott.

She had a companion who had been ever agreeable, and her estate a steward than whom no one living was supposed to be more competent.-Parton.

"It was he" or "It was him"?

402. And there is one question about which grammarians are not agreed, namely, whether the nominative or the objective form should be used in the predicate after was, is, are, and the other forms of the verb be.

It may be stated with assurance that the literary language prefers the nominative in this instance, as,-

For there was little doubt that it was he.-Kingsley.

But still it is not she.-Macaulay.

And it was he

That made the ship to go.

-Coleridge.

In spoken English, on the other hand, both in England and America, the objective form is regularly found, unless a special, careful effort is made to adopt the standard usage. The following are examples of spoken English from conversations:-

"Rose Satterne, the mayor's daughter?"-"That's her."-Kingsley.

"Who's there?"-"Me, Patrick the Porter."-Winthrop.

"If there is any one embarrassed, it will not be me."-Wm. Black.

The usage is too common to need further examples.

Exercise.

Correct the italicized pronouns in the following sentences, giving reasons from the analysis of the sentence:-

1. Whom they were I really cannot specify.

2. Truth is mightier than us all.

3. If there ever was a rogue in the world, it is me.

4. They were the very two individuals whom we thought were far away.

5. "Seems to me as if them as writes must hev

a kinder gift fur it, now."

6. The sign of the Good Samaritan is written on the face of whomsoever opens to the stranger.

7. It is not me you are in love with.

8. You know whom it is that you thus charge.

9. The same affinity will exert its influence on whomsoever is as noble as these men and women.

10. It was him that Horace Walpole called a man who never made a bad figure but as an author.

11. We shall soon see which is the fittest object of scorn, you or me.

Me in exclamations.

403. It is to be remembered that the objective form is used in exclamations which turn the attention upon a person; as,-

Unhappy me! That I cannot risk my own worthless life.-Kingsley

Alas! miserable me! Alas! unhappy Se?ors!-Id.

Ay me! I fondly dream-had ye been there.-Milton.

Nominative for the objective.

404. The rule for the objective form is wrongly departed from-

(1) When the object is far removed from the verb, verbal, or preposition which governs it; as, "He that can doubt whether he be anything or no, I speak not to" (he should be him, the object of to); "I saw men very like him at each of the places mentioned, but not he" (he should be him, object of saw).

(2) In the case of certain pairs of pronouns, used after verbs, verbals, and prepositions, as this from Shakespeare, "All debts are cleared between you and I" (for you and me); or this, "Let thou and I the battle try" (for thee and me, or us).

(3) By forgetting the construction, in the case of words used in apposition with the object; as, "Ask the murderer, he who has steeped his hands in the blood of another" (instead of "him who," the word being in apposition with murderer).

Exception 1, who interrogative.

405. The interrogative pronoun who may be said to have no objective form in spoken English. We regularly say, "Who did you see?" or, "Who were they talking to?" etc. The more formal "To whom were they talking?" sounds stilted in conversation, and is usually avoided.

In literary English the objective form whom is preferred for objective use; as,-

Knows he now to whom he lies under obligation?-Scott.

What doth she look on? Whom doth she behold?-Wordsworth.

Yet the nominative form is found quite frequently to divide the work of the objective use; for example,-

My son is going to be married to I don't know who.-Goldsmith.

Who have we here?-Id.

Who should I meet the other day but my old friend.-Steele.

He hath given away half his fortune to the Lord knows who.-Kingsley.

Who have we got here?-Smollett.

Who should we find there but Eustache?-Marrvat.

Who the devil is he talking to?-Sheridan.

Exception 2, but he, etc.

406. It is a well-established usage to put the nominative form, as well as the objective, after the preposition but (sometimes save); as,-

All were knocked down but us two.-Kingsley.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee.-Byron.

Rich are the sea gods:-who gives gifts but they?-Emerson.

The Chieftains then

Returned rejoicing, all but he.

-Southey

No man strikes him but I.-Kingsley.

None, save thou and thine, I've sworn,

Shall be left upon the morn.

-Byron.

Exercise.

Correct the italicized pronouns in the following, giving reasons from the analysis of the quotation:-

1. Thou, Nature, partial Nature, I arraign.

2. Let you and I look at these, for they say there are none such in the world.

3. "Nonsense!" said Amyas, "we could kill every soul of them in half an hour, and they know that as well as me."

4. Markland, who, with Jortin and Thirlby, Johnson calls three contemporaries of great eminence.

5. They are coming for a visit to she and I.

6.

They crowned him long ago;

But who they got to put it on

Nobody seems to know.

7. I experienced little difficulty in distinguishing among the pedestrians they who had business with St. Bartholomew.

8. The great difference lies between the laborer who moves to Yorkshire and he who moves to Canada.

9. Besides my father and Uncle Haddock-he of the silver plates.

10.

Ye against whose familiar names not yet

The fatal asterisk of death is set,

Ye I salute.

11. It can't be worth much to they that hasn't larning.

12. To send me away for a whole year-I who had never crept from under the parental wing-was a startling idea.

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