I am sure this has been asked before; I couldn't locate a definite answer (grammar websites on direct objects do not seem to explicitly state the answer). I think it may have been addressed in my previous question indirectly and I was hoping for some clarification.

With a clause as a direct object, the pronoun is in the nominative case because the entire clause is the direct object, not just the initial pronoun. Is this statement in anyway accurate?

For example:

  • "He intimated [(that) he would go today]."

I believe the direct object of "intimated" is within the brackets, and the direct object clause should be treated as a if it were "self-enclosed"; therefore, "he" should be nominative because it is the subject of the verb "go".

I think this is true, but I would feel more comfortable with clarification/correction.

  • In a word, yes.
    – tchrist
    Apr 30, 2014 at 12:06
  • 2
    "he" is nominative because it's the subject of the argument clause "[that] he would go today"
    – msam
    Apr 30, 2014 at 12:07
  • 1
    Or more simply put: "(that) he would go today" is a declarative content clause, and its subject would always be "he"--it doesn't matter at all what function that clause is fulfilling in the matrix clause.
    – F.E.
    Apr 30, 2014 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


I want to make one thing clear before the rest of my response. Every clause, whether independent or dependent, has a subject and a predicate. If you acknowledge that you have a dependent clause (as you did), then you must also acknowledge an inherent subject inside of it.

Your assumption is correct. That is why you use the subject pronoun "he" instead of the object pronoun "him".

For example, let's use the most obvious subject pronoun "I" instead.

He intimated that I would go today.

I doubt there is anyone on the forum that would argue that we would use the object pronoun "me".

The reason is exactly what you stated.

This is your independent clause:

"He intimated that I would go today."

'He' is our subject.

'intimated' is our transitive action verb.

He intimated what?

"that I would go today." is a noun clause functioning as a direct object inside of the independent clause.

"I" is the subject of your dependent (noun) clause, "would go" is your verb group (intransitive), and "today" is acting adverbially to say when you will go.

It is the exact same application for your sentence:

... that he would go today.

"He" is the subject of your dependent, (noun) clause, "would go" is your verb group (intransitive), and "today" is acting adverbially to say when you will go.

Note that I added back "that" from you elliptical noun clause--it makes it easier to visualize the dependent clause.

I am actually really glad you asked this question because it goes back to a misconception I saw when I first joined this forum:

"who" is a subject pronoun, and "whom" is an object pronoun.

"He intimated who would go."

There are several people on this forum who would argue that it should be "whom" instead of "who", but since "who" is the subject inside of the dependent clause, we used the subject pronoun "who" instead of the object pronoun "whom".

  • Most clauses have subject and predicate. Exceptions are infinitive clauses (infinitive or infinitive phrase instead of predicate), participial clauses (participle or participial phrase instead of predicate), and elliptical clauses (some element is omitted—you may want to brush up on these). May 11, 2017 at 1:17

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