General Writing and Grammar Help/him or he

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QUESTION: Hi Ted 1 Long time no see. How are you !
Today, i have a question and want you to help me.
I said : it is him who was absent yesterday.
My friend said that it was wrong and fixed it : " it is he who was absent yesterday ".
Is it right to say : Let's catch he who stole the bicycle yesterday.
Can you explain it to me ?
thanks !

ANSWER: Dear Dat:

Question:
Hi Ted 1 Long time no see. How are you !

*** I am dealing with the cold, the snow, and the ice.  I am slowly recovering from my two surgeries:  my left hip and my right eye.

Today, i have a question and want you to help me.
I said : it is him who was absent yesterday.
My friend said that it was wrong and fixed it : " it is he who was absent
yesterday ".

*** Your friend is correct, although most people [particularly in casual talk] use "him."  "It is HE" is correct, because the linking verb "is" joins two things that are both in the "nominative case."  In other words, "It" is equal to "he."  [You can change the words around, and your sentence will still be correct, although sounding awkward.  "He is IT [or "the one"] who was absent.

Is it right to say : Let's catch he who stole the bicycle yesterday.

*** In this example, the correct pronoun is HIM.  "Catch" is NOT a linking verb; it is a "transitive" verb, that "transmits" one thing to another thing.  In your sentence, you can discover if the verb "catch" has a direct object.  Just ask these questions:  catch WHAT? or catch WHOM?

The answer to the question, catch whom, is the direct object of catch, and it MUST be in the objective case.  HIM is the objective case.

Dat, these examples or sentences are not very good.  In GOOD English, you would say, "Let's catch the THIEF who stole the bicycle yesterday."

Happy 2014 to you!

Ted


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Ted !
I'm really bad at using words. Thanks you for recommending me at this example.
"Let's catch the THIEF who stole the bicycle yesterday ".
How can i use "good english " and have a better sentence in other situations ?
Can you give me some advice ?
Thanks !

Answer
Dear Dat:

Thanks Ted !
I'm really bad at using words. Thanks you for recommending me at this example.
"Let's catch the THIEF who stole the bicycle yesterday ".
How can i use "good english " and have a better sentence in other situations ?
Can you give me some advice ?

**** Learning good English comes down to two things:  patience and practice.  If, for
instance, you are trying to find the correct word to use for someone who steals, you need
to consult a "thesaurus."  There are many such aids available for free on the internet.
I particularly like this one:  http://www.m-w.com

At this site, you will see "tabs" for the definitions of words and ALSO for synonyms.  The synonyms dictionary is called the "thesaurus."  [You can also find the antonyms -- words that are the opposite of other words.]

If you search the thesaurus for "steal," you will find noun forms, such as "thief."

Looking for other words requires patience.  I have some questioners who ask ME to give them words, such as synonyms.  If they would PATIENTLY SEARCH for these words on their own, they will learn more . . . and they will most likely REMEMBER the words they look up in dictionaries or thesauri.

The next step is to USE every new word or grammatical construction that you learn.  If you just use a word one time, you will soon forget what it means.  But, there is an old saying which is true:  Use a new word three times, and it belongs to you.  [You will remember it.]

And, Dat, you know that I am always here to help you when you have problems.

1.  Be patient.
2.  Practice new things.
3.  Send me questions.

If you ARE patient, you'll soon find that learning becomes easier with each new challenge.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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