No one but her ever made a perfect score on the test. Why we use her and not she?

  • Related, possible duplicate: faster than him/he
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 18, 2016 at 11:49
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    @Rathony: My Ngram has a capitalized "N", so would not pick up that sentence. When you click on the actual hits, it doesn't distinguish between capitals and lower-case Your Ngram picks up instances like "no one but her mother". Feb 18, 2016 at 12:31
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    @PeterShor I think the question is 100% duplicate, “She” or “her” following “no one but”? and Barrie Engliand seems to agree with me.
    – user140086
    Feb 18, 2016 at 12:35
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    @Rathony: Shakespeare doesn't: "No, my good lords, it is not that offends; It is not that that hath incensed the duke: It is, because no one should sway but he; No one but he should be about the king. " I think the right answer is that both usages are acceptable. Feb 18, 2016 at 12:37
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    @Rathony: My Ngram clearly shows that people are still using it. I'll try to find some good examples. Feb 18, 2016 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


The short answer is: She is a subjective personal pronoun whereas her is a objective personal pronoun.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "correct use of personal pronouns is one of the most debated areas of English usage." The common advice is to use the pronoun alone, or comparatively, to clarify which is correct. In my opinion, that advice relies upon a certain level of English language proficiency, the absence of which may well be the source of confusion.

Compare and Consider:

She is the only person to ever receive a perfect score on this test. (Correct)

Her is the only person to ever receive a perfect score on this test. (Incorrect)

Her test received a perfect score. No one else has ever received a perfect score on this test. (Correct)

She test received a perfect score. No one else has ever received a perfect score on this test. (Incorrect)

The Purdue Online Writing Lab provides excellent information regarding using pronouns clearly, pronoun case, and reflexive pronouns.

Your example is specifically one of pronoun case. OWL offers the following, "in compound structures, where there are two pronouns or a noun and a pronoun, drop the other noun for a moment. Then you can see which case you want."

My observation has been that personal pronouns are a common point of confusion, and thus frustration, that spans both native and non-native learners. This is compounded in my opinion for non-native learners coming from a language that provides clarity elsewise; Japanese for example, uses the particles ga and o to specify the subject and object and possessiveness, which allows them to move around within a sentence without substantial loss of clarity (Disclosure: I passed Japanese, but that was a long time ago and my comparison may be weak. Ironically, I found this use of particles somewhat frustrating.).

  • Are you saying that we have to use she in the poster's sentence?
    – user140086
    Feb 19, 2016 at 6:30
  • @Rathony No, though according to the Cambridge Dictionary online either can be correct depending upon the context or formality. When using but as except 'We use object pronouns after but (me, you, him, us, etc.) even in subject position' and 'In formal situations, we can use subject pronouns after but.' “She” or “her” following “no one but” does appear to cover this question well; I wish I'd noticed that earlier.
    – Corra
    Feb 19, 2016 at 8:54

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