Pronouns can be tricky. Many people misuse them, but we’re here to clear up the confusion so you can speak and write more confidently. In today’s grammar lesson, we will cover the correct usage of “us” and “we.”
When to use the subject pronoun “we”:
Use the pronoun “we” when it is the subject of a sentence or when it renames the subject of a sentence. Take a look at these examples:
- “We Americans cherish our freedom.”
- “Us Americans cherish our freedom.”
The word “Americans” is the subject, and the pronoun simply renames it, so the first sentence with “We” is correct.
To ensure that you choose the correct pronoun, eliminate every word except the pronoun and the verb. You should be left with a clause that still makes sense: “We cherish” vs. “us cherish.” The correct choice is obvious: “We cherish.”
“We birds of a feather flock together” contains another example of a pronoun that renames the subject. “Birds” is the subject of the sentence, so the correct pronoun is “We.”
When to use the object pronoun “us”:
Use the pronoun “us” as a direct object, an indirect object and the object of a preposition. Examples:
- In the sentence “Our company flew us to Bangkok for a conference,” “us” is serving as the direct object.
- In the sentence “Please send us a proof of the letter by Monday,” “us” is serving as the indirect object.
- In the sentence “The holiday bonuses were greatly appreciated by us employees,” “us” is the object of the preposition “by.” Note: In this case, changing the sentence from passive to active tense would be a big improvement: “We employees greatly appreciated the holiday bonuses.” If you made that change, the pronoun would once again be renaming the subject, so “We” would be correct.
What other grammar lessons would you like to see covered in this column?