This morning I wrote this, prompting one of my readers to send me an angry email:
“Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch yesterday for the 100th time as a major leaguer, making he and Rickie Weeks just the fourth pair of 100 HBP teammates in major league history.”
I think their primary concern was the “he” in the middle. Was I wrong here? If so, what should I have done?
I’m a little sorry to have to side with your reader here, but they have a point. That he should really have been him.
While the sentence is not overcomplicated, there is enough going on that it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening. The best way to see which pronoun you need is to drop out as many words as possible, including the other person:
Aramis Ramirez was hit, making he the fourth…
When you pare it down like that, it sounds weird, right? What’s happening is that he is the object of the verb make, but he is the pronoun you use for subjects. Him is the objective case, so that’s the one you need.
A lot of people have trouble with this kind of thing, especially when a single verb applies to more than one person. I think what happens is that schoolkids are frequently told not to say, “Me and Joe went to the store,” or “Her and him are friends,” in favor of the more strictly correct “Joe and I” or “she and he.” But after years of making yourself use the subject pronoun, even when it goes against your instinct, you start to do it reflexively. Sure, maybe it sounds a little stiff, but it often does, so you ignore the little voice that says, “That doesn’t sound right.” Which leads to mistakes like this one.
As for why I’m reluctant to side with your reader, well, I’m reluctant to side with anyone who thinks a little error like this one is cause for outrage. Especially when the errors are made by people, like bloggers, who don’t have editors trailing after them to tighten up the nuts and bolts of their prose.
So, Kyle, in the spirit of your Brewers blog, I recommend that the next time your readers spot an error in a post, they take in a ballgame and a brewski before writing in.