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Grammar Tip: I Vs. Me, Who Vs. Whom, and Starting a Sentence With So

My reader, Monica Borden yesterday enquired through a comment:
I've been a subscriber for just a few weeks, and have not taken the time to read through your archives. Would you know off the top of your head if you have a post or posts that address the use of "who vs. whom" and "She and I" and when you can use "me" instead of "I" when referring to oneself? I am also interested in knowing what words are improper to begin a sentence with. I see writers beginning sentences with: So... and my gut tells me you should not do that, is that correct?
I will give clarifications on those aspects of grammar in this post.

I Vs. Me

I will address this first. As you said Monica, there is a post in the archives addressing this: Some English Errors to Avoid. By the way, Monica, you could have easily found this from archives, had you used the search feature.

You can read in this post quite a few other grammar aspects as well.

Who Vs. Whom

This is almost similar to I Vs. Me. Who should be used in questions where you ask who “did or does” a particular thing. Whom should be used in questions when you ask who “the thing was done to” (the object). Examples:

Who captured Ozama bin Laden?
Whom did Police catch?
For whom the bell tolls?

So, from this you know that ‘who’ should be used when you enquire about the subject. And whom should be used when enquiring about the object.

Other words that are similar to who vs. whom are I vs. me, he vs. him, she vs. her, and they vs. them. In all these, the first one refers to the subject and second to the object.

Wrong: Who do you love? (It should be ‘whom’ because ‘you’ are the subject, and whoever you love is the object).
Wrong: He is the one who I warned.
Right: I found him whom I lent money.
Right: Whoever beat you has to be found.
Right: Whomever you beat has to be found.

Though these guidelines point to perfect English, you can always encounter people using sentences as:

Who do you love?
It’s me here.

Starting a Sentence With So

Do you know that it’s actually just a myth “you should not start the sentence with so”? There are other myths, such as “you should not start sentence with and, but, so, because, etc.” This was followed in Old English, and is no longer followed in the Modern English.

You can pretty well start your sentences with any of these. Strict grammarians may tell you otherwise, but you can always find good writers starting their sentences with ‘so’. Examples:

Stephen King from Misery: So his feeling that she was like an idol in a perfervid novel was not really surprising at all.
Thomas Harris from Hannibal: So there's no warrant and no warrant forthcoming.
Salman Rushdie from Midnight's Children: So let me conclude with the uncorroborated rumour that the boatman Tai, who recovered from his scrofulous infection soon after my grandfather left Kashmir, did not die until 1947

Ernest Hemingway, famous American novelist, was accustomed to starting his sentences with 'and' or 'but'. So, just use what you are comfortable with and come up with your own unique style. Remember what SF writer Isaac Asimov said: “A good writer can break any rule.”

AskOxford Links:

I Vs. Me
Who Vs. Whom
Writing Myths

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008


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