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Grammar tip: She vs. her, he vs. him

Posted by Maria Murnane | May 23, 2016

Are you confused about the difference between she/her and he/him? Here’s a quick lesson:

She and he are subject pronouns. That means they are the subjects of a sentence, i.e., they represent a person doing something. For example:

  • John wrote a book becomes he wrote a book
  • Maria wrote a book becomes she wrote a book
  • John and Maria co-wrote a book becomes he and she co-wrote a book

Her and him are object pronouns. That means they are the objects of a sentence, i.e., something is being done to them, for them, with them, etc. For example:

  • Maria saw John becomes Maria saw him (him is the direct object here)
  • Maria gave John the book becomes Maria gave him the book (him is the indirect object here)

The above examples are pretty straightforward. Where I’ve noticed that many people get tripped up is when there is more than one subject in a sentence. For example:

  • Maria and he co-wrote a book (Correct)
  • Maria and him co-wrote a book (Incorrect, but I hear this all the time.)

If, after those examples, you’re still confused, try rearranging the subjects:

  • He and Maria co-wrote a book (Correct and sounds correct)
  • Him and Maria co-wrote a book (Incorrect and sounds weird, right?)

If you’re still furrowing your brow about whether to use him/her or he/she when you have two subjects, try dropping one of the subjects:

  • She wrote a book (Correct and sounds normal, right?)
  • He wrote a book (Correct and sounds normal, right?)
  • Her wrote a book (Incorrect and sounds super weird, right?)
  • Him wrote a book (Incorrect and sounds super weird, right?)

I hope the above examples help. We all know the basics, so when you’re confused, bring it back to that. Your ear should guide you.

-Maria

 

Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services to aspiring and published authors. Have questions? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2016 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

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