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I just have a little question about using objective pronouns (me, him, her) as the subjects of verbs.

1)

They were a peculiar couple, him being a traditionalist and her being more open-minded.

2)

Their mother had high hopes for her children's futures, him to be a doctor and her to be a lawyer.

(Excuse my awkward wording in these examples, you get the general idea.)

Why are these types of usages acceptable? Are they proscribed?

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    I think most people would tell you that in the first example, it should be he and she. The second example debatable (to my non-linguist's mind) because they are the objects of the preposition (for them - i.e. him and her.) Why is it tolerated? because people use the pronouns incorrectly, and prolonged misuse creates familiarity which creates acceptance. I myself would not use the objective pronouns improperly unless using the proper pronoun made the sentence sound strange to my ear. – anongoodnurse Mar 11 '14 at 23:34
  • ... If only everyone had identical ears! (It might make your job easier too.) – Edwin Ashworth Mar 11 '14 at 23:44
4

They're acceptable because they are not the subject of a tensed clause.
Instead, they are both subjects of untensed clauses -- a gerund and an infinitive.

The subjects of untensed clauses (when such subjects in fact occur;
untensed clauses often lack overt subjects) may be pronouns, and when they are

  • infinitive clauses take the objective (him, her, it, them, me, us) form for their subject,
    and
  • gerund clauses may take either the objective or the genitive (his, her, its, their, my, our).
    These are, respectively, called the ACC-ing and POSS-ing gerund complementizers.

That's all, really.

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    I don’t (want to) understand why anyone would think anything but what you have clearly written. And yet from comments and other answers, they still do. I blame it on rote repetition of lessons poorly delivered or poorly learned. – tchrist Mar 18 '14 at 2:33
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    Traditionally, this is considered wrong for absolute constructions: books.google.nl/… – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Feb 20 '16 at 17:33
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It sounds awkward, but this is the correct form of the sentence:

They were a peculiar couple, he being a traditionalist and she being more open-minded.

This construction is correct because "he" and "she" are the nominative absolutes of the participial clauses.

As for the second example:

Their mother had high hopes for her children's futures: that he would be a doctor and that she would be a lawyer.

Your version is incorrect on many levels.

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    +1 This is the right answer: traditionally, absolute constructions use the subjective/nominative case in English. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Feb 20 '16 at 17:32
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Him and her allow themselves to be an objective/target of accusative/causative phrases.

In my style and requirement for precise expressing in English, the 2nd sentence is unacceptable. The pronoun case should match the predicate. Even if the predicate is implied discontinuously by a previous sentence.

Factorization of a set of predicates is a way to check its integrity and symmetry. If a set of predicates purport to be in symmetry, then factorization would prove their case.
Factorization: {a.b * a.c} = a.{b * c}

Any perceived acceptable usage is colloquial and because such forms should not be used when precision is required.

Disjointed predicates must claim symmetry, because the incomplete parts of a multi-phrase predicate would not be able to stand on its own.

If you don't claim symmetry, then these must be able to stand alone to tell own story without the presence of its parent:

Him being a traditionalist and her being more open-minded.

Which is ridiculous because it would be like saying

Him in cold-blood.

Without stating

They killed ...

Let me demonstrate the effect of disjointed predicates ...

Their mother had high hopes for her children's future. Him to be a doctor and her to be a lawyer.

The above sentence is demonstrated to be acceptable thro the following steps in factorizing the sentences.

  1. Their mother had high hopes for his future, for him to be a doctor, for her to be a lawyer.
  2. Factorize: Their mother had high hopes for {his future, him to be a doctor, her to be a lawyer}.
  3. Their mother had high hopes for his future, him to be a doctor, her to be a lawyer.
  4. Disjoint predicate: Their mother had high hopes for his future. Him to be a doctor, Her to be a lawyer.

However, factorization will demonstrate the following is illogical in structure.

They were a peculiar couple, he being a traditionalist and she being more open-minded.

  1. He and she were a peculiar couple. He being a traditionalist and she being more open-minded.
  2. He and she were {a peculiar couple, being a traditionalist and being more open-minded}.

However, the following

They were a peculiar couple, him being a traditionalist and her being more open-minded.

would require such a factorization, revealing its unstable structure:

  1. Him and her were {a peculiar couple, being a traditionalist and being more open-minded}.
  2. Him and her were a peculiar couple. Him being a traditionalist and her being more open-minded}.
  3. Them were a peculiar couple. Him being a traditionalist and her being more open-minded}.

Rather, if you want to use him and her, you would phrase the predicate this way to form a causative(aka accusative) phrase:

People had perceived them a peculiar couple. Him being a traditionalist and her being more open-minded.

Where the factorization steps verify the integrity of the symmetry:

  1. People had perceived them being a peculiar couple. People had perceived him being a traditionalist and people had perceived her being more open-minded.
  2. People had perceived {them being a peculiar couple, him being a traditionalist and her being more open-minded}.

Alternatively,

Their personalities constitutes a peculiar relationship. His personality being a traditionalist while her personality being more open-minded.

  1. His and her personalities { constitute a peculiar relationship, being a traditionalist while being more open-minded }.
  2. Their personalities constitute a peculiar relationship. His being a traditionalist while hers being more open-minded.

Further,

Their mother had high hopes for her children's future. Their mother had high hopes for his future as a doctor. Their mother had high hopes for her future as a lawyer.

Factorise:

  1. Their mother had high hopes for {her children's future, his future as a doctor, her future as a lawyer}.
  2. Their mother had high hopes for {her children's future, his as a doctor, hers as a lawyer}.
  3. Their mother had high hopes for her children's future. His as a doctor, while hers as a lawyer.

More possibilities: Presuming symmetry, defactorize the following into independent sentences to see if they make sense as standalone sentences:

  • Their mother had high hopes for her children's future. His as a doctor, but hers as a lawyer.
  • blah ... blah ... His as a doctor, OTOH hers as a lawyer.
  • blah ... blah ... His as a doctor, only hers as a yenteh.
  • blah ... blah ... His as a doctor, except hers as a janitor.
  • blah ... blah ... His as a doctor, hers merely as a rich man's wife.

In conclusion, I am unable to use symmetry to justify the structural integrity of your first sentence. If you do not agree with the need for symmetry, then you would need to justify the legitimacy of hanging phrases.

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