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Don’t Expose Your Ignorance!
The Worldwide News – October 18, 1982
Don’t Expose Your Ignorance!

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Some of our members have been nonchalantly unaware of this matter. They have been giving the appearance of being somewhat ignorant and uneducated.

I have heard some saying things such as, “John took Sam and I to lunch.” One of eighth grade education ought to have expressed it as, “took Sam and me.” The speaker gave the appearance of being uneducated or careless in his speech.

Sometimes we hear, “Sam and me both saw it.” One should have said “Sam and I.”

Or, in giving announcements in church: “Somebody has left their car lights on.” Or: “It’s raining outside. Does everyone have their umbrella?”

I have heard such ungrammatical expressions from our members so often that I asked Herman L. Hoeh to prepare a brief few paragraphs explaining correct usage in such cases. His explanation follows…

Nothing shows a speaker or a writer to be a novice any faster than the misuse of pronouns. Teaching the correct use of pronouns in school is not enough. There is always the need to follow up with a lifetime of conscious practice when speaking or writing.

How to use pronouns correctly? That, for some, is a problem because bad grammatical habits have been allowed to form.

Nominative case pronouns – I, we, you, he, she and they- are used as subjects or as predicate nominatives.

In the sentence, She and I are going shopping today, She and I are the subjects. The nominative case forms must be used. One never says, Me and her are going shopping today.

In the sentence, John’s closest friends are you and I, you and I are predicate nominatives following the verb to be. They are in the nominative case.

In this instance modern folksy usage may vary, as when Sir Winston Churchill warmed up the U.S. Congress by introducing himself: This is me, Winston Churchill.

But something is wrong in the following sentence: The president met Sam and I.

The pronoun I is incorrectly used as the object. I is a nominative case form and should not be used as an object. The objective case form me should be used. We should say, The president met Sam and me.

To make it clear, drop Sam and, and say The president met me.

Objective case pronouns – me, us, you, him, her and them- are used as direct objects or indirect objects. In the sentence above Sam and me are direct objects.

Indirect objects are in the objective case as in, Father is giving Sam and me a gift. One never says, Father is giving Sam and I a gift.

To make that clear, drop Sam and, and say, Father is giving me a gift.

One other common mistake in pronoun usage involves the possessive form of the pronoun. We should never say, Somebody has left their car lights on, or Does everyone have their umbrella?

The proper usage in each case requires the singular possessive pronoun: Somebody has left his car lights on, and, Does everyone have his (or her) umbrella?

Indefinite pronouns that end in one or body are always singular in number and take singular verb forms and singular possessive pronouns.

We also properly say, Each of the girls has her coat. Each refers to the girls as individuals.

Let us all learn to write and speak sincerely and correctly.