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What Is an Objective Pronoun?

Angie Bates
Angie Bates

An objective pronoun is a word which replaces a noun and serves as an object in a given sentence. These pronouns are most often found after the main verb of a sentence but can sometimes be found in other locations. They may be identified by their placement in the sentence, but many are identified by their unique spellings.

Pronouns may be the subject or object of a sentence or show ownership. An objective pronoun is one that serve as an object, either direct or indirect. In other words, an objective pronoun are what the main action, or verb, of the sentence is happening to or what is receiving its benefit. For example, in the sentence, "He gave it to her," both "it" and "her" are objective pronouns. "It" serves as the direct object and "her" as the indirect object.

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

Some pronouns, such as "this" or "it," retain the same spelling whether they are the subject or object of a sentence. Most personal pronouns, on the other hand, do change their spelling depending on their function. Me, her, him, us, and them are the objective versions of I, she, he, we, and they respectively. The personal pronoun "you" does not change its spelling. The interrogative pronoun "who" does, however, becoming "whom" when it is the object of a sentence.

Often the placement of the pronoun in the sentence can indicate whether it should be an objective pronoun. For example, in the sentence, "I gave that book away," the first person pronoun "I" is indicated as the subject not just because of its spelling, but also because of its placement at the beginning of the sentence. In "Claire gave that book to me," however, the first person pronoun, "me," is located after the main verb of the sentence, indicating that it is an object.

Placement is not always an indicator, however. In the sentence, "To whom does this belong?" the objective pronoun is used rather than the subjective despite the fact the interrogative pronoun "whom" begins the sentence. This is caused by the preposition "to." Prepositions are normally paired with objects, and therefore, with objective pronouns. The sentence can be rephrased to say "this belongs to whom?" In both cases "this," not "whom," is the subject of the sentence.

The sentence can also be written as, "Who does this belong to?" In this case, "who" is the subject of the sentence. It is no longer paired with the preposition but instead with the main verb "does."

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      Woman standing behind a stack of books