Posted by: Jack Henry | October 5, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Problem with Pronouns

Please excuse the length of this Editor’s Corner email. We try to keep them short, but this one requires examples and a little more explanation. I hope you find it helpful! Here goes…

Problems occur in sentences that end in a pronoun (I, me, him, she etc.) when the pronoun is preceded by the words than or as. I’ll show you what I mean. Look at the following sentences that contain the word than followed by the pronoun I or me. You’ll see that the sentences are a little ambiguous.

· She likes ice cream a lot more than me.

· She likes ice cream a lot more than I.

Is only one sentence incorrect? Do they mean the same thing? The answer to both questions is no. People may use the pronouns interchangeably, but when you break down the sentences, they have different meanings. To make the sentences clear, I’ll add words that show the meaning attached to each pronoun. When I include these words, the meaning of each sentence becomes clear:

· She likes ice cream a lot more than (she likes) me.

· She likes ice cream a lot more than I (like ice cream).

With the missing words included, you see that the original sentences have vastly different meanings. We omit these words from English sentences all the time. It’s not incorrect, but we need to be aware of how specific pronouns change the meaning. Using the correct pronoun makes your writing clear and concise.

The pronoun as can cause a similar kind of confusion. Look at these sentences:

· My sister loves craft beer as much as me.

· My sister loves craft beer as much as I.

I’ll ask the same questions: Is only one of these sentences correct and do both sentences mean the same thing? Let’s look again at the first one with the omitted words included:

· My sister loves craft beer as much as (she loves) me.

The sentence now clearly states that my sister loves craft beer and me equally. That’s very insulting and quite possibly true.

So let’s look at the other example with the omitted word included so that you can easily work out the meaning.

· My sister loves craft beer as much as I (do).

This sentence means that my sister and I love craft beer equally. It also means that my sister has dodged a bullet, because after all I’ve done for her…

Here’s a tip: when I’m not sure whether to end a sentence with I or me, I determine whether I can repeat the phrase that begins with the verb. For example, “She likes ice cream more than I like ice cream,” If I can repeat the phrase, the correct pronoun is I. You wouldn’t say “She likes ice cream more than me like ice cream”—unless you’re Tarzan.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Technical Publications Writing and Editing Requests

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