Tips for Teaching Pronoun Usage

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The first obstacle is how to teach pronoun usage without overwhelming the class with arcane language.

First, consider the terminology. Students can hardly say nominative and objective. So, let’s simplify the terms. You have subject pronouns and object pronouns. Obviously, the nominative case pronouns are the subject pronouns, and the objective case pronouns are the object pronouns.

Second, subject pronouns come at the beginning of sentences. Examples of subject pronouns include he, she, they, we, I, and you. Remember that here, there, and where will never be subjects, but these words may begin sentences. Then, you have to look for the forms of be. Subject pronouns may also follow the forms of be. For example: the winner is he. That is correct as a subject pronoun follows a common form of be, which is the verb “is.”

Don’t Trust Your Ear

The next tip for how to teach pronoun usage is not to trust your ear. If you trust your ear, you would have said the answer to the example above would have been “him.” You would have been wrong. You have to stick to the rules, regardless of the way it sounds. If you know the rules, use the rules, and apply the rules, there is no reason why you should miss pronoun usage questions.

Object Pronouns

Object pronouns are usually, but not always, located at the end of sentences. Common object pronouns are us, him, her, us, you, etc.

Object pronouns follow objects: direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of the prepositions. If you do not know how these grammatical concepts function, I suggest you review them before moving on so you will be able to recognize direct and indirect objects, as well as objects of prepositions. Here is an example: The letter was addressed to him. To is the preposition, so you know that you have to use an object pronoun, which is him.

Assessing Student Understanding

After explaining the concept to students write ten sentences on your SMARTboard and see if students understand the concept. For example: (He, Him) went to school. Obviously, the answer is he as “he” is the subject of the verb.

After students understand how to use subject and object pronouns, introduce who and whom to students. This concept, often dreaded by students, is just as easy as using he/him.