I have 3 questions regarding she/her and my logic is posted below:

  1. Only one of the contestants was chosen, she/her.

I think the answer is "she" and here's my logic: This sentence is written in the passive voice so the subject no longer "does" an action or "is" something, but rather is acted upon. "One" is the simple subject here despite the fact that she is not choosing. And I believe the "she/her" is an appositive that's placed at the end of the sentence instead of placed right next to the word it's describing; therefore, the proper pronoun here is "she" because subjects take the nominative case. If I place the pronoun right after "one of the contestants", "she" would be the appropriate appositive here in formal language.

"Only one of the contestants, she, was chosen"

  1. Was it she/her you hoped to find?

I think it's "she" because "she" is a predicate nominative here so it takes the subject form in formal language. If I mess with the syntax, I can get the following:

"It was she you hoped to find."

In this rearranged sentence, "she" is the predicate nominative and takes the subject case, while "you hoped to find" is just some adjective clause describing this woman.

  1. Congratulations on beating everyone else in the Pokemon League...but there's still one more opponent left--me!"

I'm assuming the "me" part is shortened for "It is me" In that case, I would go with "I" because it's the predicate nominative of the clause.

Do we choose "me" or "I" in this sentence? "Me" sounds better, but is there some rule here I'm missing?


I'm not sure if my reasoning is entirely correct. Thanks in advance.

Link on Predicate Nominatives: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/it-is-i-versus-it-is-me

  • 1
    Have you checked the existing questions and answers on she/her and I/me? Apr 16, 2019 at 19:50
  • 1
    If you rearrange Ex1 you get flat nonsense: "She, only one of the contestants, was chosen."
    – Carly
    Apr 16, 2019 at 21:36
  • Hmm. That seems grammatically correct though. "She (subject), only one of the contestants (appositive), was chosen (predicate)." Apr 16, 2019 at 21:42
  • "one of the contestants" would be a noun phrase and could stand as an appositive. "only one of the contestants" is a dependent clause. appositives are dependent clauses but not all dependent clauses are appositives.
    – Carly
    Apr 16, 2019 at 21:59

4 Answers 4


Traditional/prescriptivist "grammar rules" (the kind that you might be tested on) aren't a complete system for creating natural-sounding sentences

You didn't mention the source of these sentences in your original post. In a comment, you clarified that they are adapted from the following questions in Paragraphs and Essays with Integrated Readings, 12th Ed., by Lee Brandon and Kelly Brandon:

  • "19. Was it (I, me) you hoped to find?"

  • "7. Only two were chosen, Kathy and (he, him)."

    (p. 512)

This is a typical context where you might be expected to apply prescriptivist "grammar rules". According to that framework, the answers to 19. and 7. would be "I" and "he" respectively.

Note that you aren't being told to write your own sentences, but to choose one option in a sentence that you are given.

The "rules" you use to answer questions like this aren't the rules that English speakers unconsciously rely on to construct natural-sounding sentences, and they aren't even exactly the same as the rules that English speakers consciously rely on to construct formal, but non-archaic-sounding written texts.

The traditional rules don't constitute a fully productive grammatical system. Rather, they explain the form of certain special constructions that are used and thought of as "correct" in rather formulaic expressions. For example, "The only people there were John and I" is much more likely as an example of a "predicate nominative" than the "The only people there were the pastor and we". Writing guides may recognize exceptions to the traditional rules when they produce results that are judged as being too stilted; for example, this post from the Grammarphobia blog, by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, says "In all but the most formal writing, “It’s me” is now acceptable" (How should you answer the phone?).

Natural-sounding sentences don't follow traditional "rules" (they do follow rules, just not the same ones)

For me, the natural spoken forms equivalent to the three sentences that you mention would be as follows:

  1. Only one of the contestants was chosen: her.

  2. Was she the one you hoped to find?

  3. Congratulations on beating everyone else in the Pokemon League ... but there's still one more opponent left—me!

Basically for the reasons given in Araucaria's answer. The function of the English pronoun form often called "accusative" is really not analogous to the function of the accusative case in languages like Latin, Russian or German, so you can't just rely on principles like "subjects take the nominative case" and "appositives take the same case as their antecedents" and expect them to apply unproblematically (even in formal English). In a number of contexts, English "accusative" forms have what could be informally labelled a "disjunctive" role: they seem to be used as a kind of default form in a variety of contexts (this is covered in many other posts on this site; e.g. "Who wants ice-cream?" — Should I say "(not) I" or "(not) me"?) From the formal perspective of the modern science of linguistics, Araucaria's formulation relating the "nominative" case in English to finite/tensed verbs seems to be common, and from some perspectives, that makes the English case distinction not really a true nominative/accusative distinction at all. Omer Preminger says "insofar as English has anything you’d want to call ‘nominative’, it's [...] the thing we’ve been calling ‘accusative’ or ‘objective’ case" ("Case in 2017: some thoughts", p. 29).

To sound natural in formal language, rephrase

If I was trying to sound formal, and also to avoid violating any rule that has ever been proposed by any prescriptivist, I would say something like the following:

  1. Only one of the contestants was chosen: it was she.

  2. Was it she whom you hoped to find?

  3. I congratulate you for defeating everyone else in the Pokemon League ... but you still have one more opponent left—me!

Rewording sounds much better than using bare "she" and "I" at the ends of sentences 1) and 3). Replacing "Congratulations on beating" with "I congratulate you for defeating" isn't a matter of grammar, but it increases the formality. Even with heightened formality, I couldn't find a way to make "there is still one more opponent left—I" sound natural, so I would reword instead.

If you can't rephrase ... you can be "correct", but it will sound bad

If you somehow need to stick with the original wording, and just choose which out of "she" or "her" would be preferred by an extreme "stickler" prescriptivist, your reasoning is correct for that purpose. In traditional grammar, "nominative" forms are used to match the case of a nominative antecedent, or as a "default" case in certain context (see some of the citations in my question "Being [he/him] is not easy." Which is prescriptively "correct"? or in the answers there).

  1. Only one of the contestants was chosen, she.

    Despite sounding awkward, or possibly outright unacceptable, to a modern English speaker, "she" would be correct according to traditional rules because of the principle of case-matching (with the nominative NP "(only) one of the contestants", as you mentioned), or failing that, because of the principle that nouns take nominative case as independent elements of a sentence.

  2. Was it she you hoped to find?

    This certainly ought to be nominative according to the traditional rule of matching the case of the subject and the case of the complement of a copular verb.

  3. Congratulations on beating everyone else in the Pokemon League ... but there's still one more opponent left—I!"

    Rather than calling "I" a shortening of ""It is I" in 3), I would say that it is appositive to "one more opponent (left)". But the exact terminology and analysis of "appositives" is fairly messy anyways, and it doesn't lead to a different answer (because according to traditional prescriptivists, "one more opponent" in "There's still one more opponent left" would be analyzed as a nominative NP).

As I said, being able to choose the "correct" option in contexts like this is of limited practical value. You can construct all kinds of sentences that are "technically correct" according to the standards of archaic prescriptivism, but that sound terrible and won't be effective at producing whatever effect you actually want to produce in your readers/listeners.

  • I'm aware of what variant sounds natural. Unfortunately, these questions were taken (and slightly modified) from a textbook page and are multiple choice; you can find them here (Question 19 and 7): books.google.com/… There is clearly some rule here; I'm just not aware of what it is. Apr 17, 2019 at 2:23
  • Whether or not the rule is archaic or not a general consensus is one thing, but I'm trying to figure out what rule the author is using in this case. Apr 17, 2019 at 2:30
  • It's number 19 on the "Refer back to the Subject" Section Apr 17, 2019 at 2:35
  • You're taking the nominative form in both these cases then. Removing the "Kathy" in question 7 shouldn't matter here because the same type of rule should be used whether or not you add another individual. And changing I/me with She/her in question 19 should also not matter in this case. You're using the same rules here to help you determine the correct pronoun form. Apr 17, 2019 at 2:42
  • I'm curious. What is the rule you used here to get your answers? Apr 17, 2019 at 2:43

You cannot reason your way into making grammar fit the rules you invent for it. The rules of grammar are what actually happens in the language!

The rule is that when a pronoun isn't the direct subject of a tensed verb, it does not need to be in nominative case—and normally can't be.

It doesn't matter at all whether the pronoun represents a Subject or not. If it isn't the immediate subject of a tensed verb, it won't be nominative.

For this reason we see the following data:

A: Who's that?

B: Who? *She? (Ungrammatical)

B: Who? Her? (Grammatical)

In the Original Poster's example, the pronoun she is part of a right dislocation. Here it echoes and identifies the subject one of the contestants. However, this pronoun is not the actual subject of a following tensed verb. For this reason it will not be nominative, but accusative. The accusative is the normal case for pronouns that aren't subjects of tensed verbs.

  • I'm confused. Pronoun selection (nominative or accusative) often depends on the immediate subject. Check out this example: “The book club (Benny, Megan, and I) shared insights on the reading.” I is an appositive renaming the subject club. Since club is the subject of the sentence, the appositive also needs to be in subject form. By contrast, in the sentence “The drama was assigned to our group (Veronica, Thomas, and me),” me is an appositive of the noun group. Group is the object of the preposition to. Because group is the object, we need to use the object pronoun, me. Apr 16, 2019 at 22:54
  • Source: dictionary.com/e/i-vs-me Apr 16, 2019 at 22:56
  • I suppose the question is, does this rule still apply when a sentence is constructed in the passive voice? Apr 16, 2019 at 22:57
  • 1
    @THUNDERGRAMMAR That's not a rule of English, it's a fancy dreamt up by style guides. People can try and regularize the rules of grammar, or make them up, but won't affect the fact that the language has real rules that don't reflect these fetishes. Linguists know very well that coordinations block case agreement (in other words pronouns in lists joined by and or or don't display case in the normal way. This isn't something special about English, it happens in many languages). In modern English, pronouns only have to take nominative case when they are the subject of a tensed verb. Apr 17, 2019 at 11:15

This falls into the category of questions such as whether one should say "This is he/she" or "This is him/her" (it's the former).

As you suspected, you're dealing with the predicate nominative: the direct object actually happens to be the same thing denoted by the subject.

Here's an easy test:

  • Who was the only one chosen? She was the only one chosen. (Predicate nominative: "the only one chosen" is equivalent to "She")

  • Whom did they choose? They chose her. (Not predicate nominative—subject is different from the direct object)


Normally, some subject does choosing, and some object is chosen. (Note sure how you mean here by appositive) The (direct) object would be the accusative (case), so you should prefer her. Ex1 is in the passive voice, so the subject is omitted, but we know that she is not the one doing the choosing (the subject), but rather the one being chosen (the object). [Additionally, it does seem that there is a grammatical error of some sort in Ex1.]

Of the contestants, the only one chosen was her.

Alternate resolution, note the dropping of the:

Of the contestants, she was the only one chosen.

Ex 2 is easier now, building off the blocks we laid down for Ex 1: Subject = you. Thing you hoped to find = object = ... her.

Was it her you hoped to find? (Or, Did you hope to find her?)

Ex 3 continues along the same basic 'objective' principles as Ex1 and Ex2, but the object changes from third person to first.

I am the last opponent left.

There's still one more opponent left -- (it is) me!

That final construction veers into things like copulas and predicates, but it would be me, according to standard grammar conventions.

  • As the question mentioned, nominative “she” is used instead of accusative “her” in passive sentences like “she is chosen”.
    – herisson
    Apr 16, 2019 at 21:29
  • Thanks for the heads up; I omitted the word "one" in statement one. I edited the original post to fix my error and posted my reasoning as to why I believe the answer is she for both sentences one and two. Even though the sentence is written in passive, there is still a subject. webapps.towson.edu/ows/activepass.htm guidetogrammar.org/grammar/passive.htm Furthermore, I still believe that in your construction, "Of the contestants, the only one chosen was her," "she" would be correct here because it is the predicate nominative. Apr 16, 2019 at 21:29
  • lol that this answer is downvoted. I can wait and see which answer is ultimately selected. Let's see what they say =)
    – Carly
    Apr 16, 2019 at 21:31
  • 1
    I don’t understand your points about ex. 1, perhaps because the example has been fixed in the question. Your description of cases in passive constructions appears to be incorrect, though. Im afraid your description of ex. 2 does not hold up either. In “Was it she/her you hoped to find”, her is not the object of anything, but a predicative complement to the subject (also called the subject predicate). The object of find is the elided relative pronoun who(m). You are correct about copulas in ex. 3, but this applies to 2 as well. Apr 16, 2019 at 22:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.