So I sat through a presentation on APA wherein the professor was stressing to us the importance of proper writing as pertaining to turning in assignments (which I think was basically telling the lowest common denominator of the class not to turn in papers riddled with "LOL IDK" but it had some decent points too).

One of her example grammar slides was a true/false question of whether the phrase The president should be him. was correct. I would argue that it is not correct, since "should be" is a form of "is" and thus the sentence would be in the nominative case and the pronoun would be the predicate, thus making the sentence The president should be he. instead, able to be flipped around to say He should be president. I believe she thought that the pronoun was the object of the verb in the accusative case and she was simply incorrect.

Is either of us right in this case, or is it something that has just blended into relative obscurity whereby it really just doesn't matter colloquially? I couldn't find any examples online that used similar structure.

  • The usage in question is the predicate nominative; try searching for that term here. Among the more relevant finds will be this one. – Brian Donovan Mar 25 '16 at 15:46
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    You're wrong. If you're playing cards, for example, you might say I should be the dealer, but you can't say The dealer should be I - if you insist on that somewhat unidiomatic inversion, it would have to be The dealer should be me. – FumbleFingers Mar 25 '16 at 15:46
  • 'He should be the president' is less likely to cause an argument. But you need to realise that the 'rule' 'What follows a link verb must be in the nominative' is a rule probably buried and certainly dead. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 25 '16 at 17:04
  • Ahh, okay. Thanks to all three of you. See, in German (which is where I based most of this argument) whatever falls on either side of the verb "to be" must be in the nominative case, and that rule is very much alive. I suppose my question was more of the pedantic "technically true" variety; AKA was this a rule in English ever? – Mike2323 Mar 26 '16 at 1:18

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