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What Is an Objective Pronoun?

by Jennifer Komatsu, Demand Media

    Learning the rules of grammar may seem daunting or even unnecessary. You probably can't think of the last time you discussed predicates or passive voice in your personal or work life. However, a good working knowledge of English grammar can help you communicate more effectively in any situation. When you understand terms like "objective pronoun," you can speak and write more confidently.

    What is a Pronoun?

    To understand the term "objective pronoun," you must first know what a pronoun is. Pronouns are words like "you," "it" and "they" that stand in for other nouns in a sentence. Pronouns typically take the place of a noun that has already been mentioned or can easily be understood from the context. Pronouns make writing or speaking less repetitious and wordy. For example: "My aunt Marge baked me a cake. My aunt Marge frosted it with chocolate icing, and then my aunt Marge brought it to my party." Using the pronoun "she" to stand in for "my aunt Marge" would be much less cumbersome: "My aunt Marge baked me a cake. She frosted it with chocolate icing, and then she brought it to my party."

    Subject vs. Object

    In the previous example, "she" is a subjective pronoun, because it stands in for the subject of the verb. The subject is the noun performing the action. The object of a sentence is the noun that the verb's action is directed towards. Therefore, an objective pronoun is a pronoun that stands in for the object of a verb, a prepositional phrase, or an infinitive phrase. The common objective pronouns are "me," "you," "him," "her," "them," "us" and "it."

    Examples

    Here are a few examples of objective pronouns in different contexts. The objective pronoun will be marked in brackets. "My aunt Marge made the cake for [me]." The pronoun is the object of the prepositional phrase. "My aunt Marge brought [it] to the party." The pronoun is the direct object of the verb. "My aunt Marge was happy to see [her] at the party." The pronoun is the object of the infinitive phrase "to see."

    Potential Pitfalls

    There are some types of pronouns that may be mistaken for objective pronouns. These are demonstrative pronouns and reflexive pronouns. A demonstrative pronoun identifies a particular noun or pronoun. Common demonstrative pronouns include "this, "that," "these" and "those." For example: "My aunt Marge made [that]." Although the pronoun stands in for the object of the verb, it is a demonstrative pronoun and not an objective pronoun. Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the sentence. Common reflexive pronouns include "myself," "yourself," himself," "herself," "themselves," "ourselves" and "itself." For example: "My aunt Marge cut [herself] while frosting the cake." The pronoun takes the place of the direct object but is a reflexive pronoun and not an objective pronoun.

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    About the Author

    Jennifer Komatsu is the founder and director of Minnesota-based greyhound rescue shelter, producing content for the organization's website, blog and newsletters. She has also published articles in "Celebrating Greyhounds" magazine, as well as various psychology journals. Komatsu graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College, earning a B.A. in cognitive psychology.

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