Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt    

Lesson 15: Prepositions Govern the Objective Case

When the Parts-of-Speech found themselves so suddenly turned out of the court, they collected in a group before the door, and looked at each other in astonishment."
Prepositions Govern the Objective Case

"Here is a pretty thing!" said Mr. Noun, indignantly. "Fine way to treat us, indeed!"

"And after all, I only said what is true," said Preposition. "I do put every noun or pronoun that comes after my words in the Objective Case, do I not, Dr. Syntax?"

"Prepositions govern the Objective Case," said Dr. Syntax, in his usual monotonous voice; then lifting his spectacles, he twisted his head round to look at Preposition, and actually deigned to explain his words by saying: "Whatever noun or pronoun a preposition is placed before and refers to, must be in the Objective Case."

"Speak to him," murmured Serjeant Parsing, as if he were talking to himself: "him, a pronoun, objective case, governed by the preposition to."

"Mr. Pronoun, you hear that!" exclaimed Mr. Noun. "This little Preposition is said to govern us, you and me, in the Objective Case. Very impertinent, on my word!"

"On my word!" again muttered Serjeant Parsing. "Word, a noun, Objective Case, governed by the preposition on."

"However, it does not matter to me," continued Mr. Noun, without taking any notice of Serjeant Parsing. "It will make no difference to me; "and he turned away, with his hands in his pockets, and began to whistle a tune.

"It does matter to me, though," said Pronoun, "for I have to alter my words according to the case they are in. I is only in the nominative case, me in the objective; we is nominative, us objective; he nominative, him objective, and so on. You cannot say 'look at I;' you must say 'look at me.'"

"Look at me," echoed Serjeant Parsing, in the same quiet tone: "me, Objective Case, governed by the preposition at."

"Quite so," continued Pronoun, turning to Serjeant Parsing. "I am objective there, I cannot help it; I must be objective after a preposition."

"Yes," said Serjeant Parsing, aloud, "and it is very convenient for me that you must. It often helps me to find out whether a word is really a preposition or no. I just try whether it wants I or me after it. Take when or if, for instance. You can say, when I go, if I were; so when and if are not prepositions. But you cannot say 'for I,' or 'from I;' you must have the Objective Case, and say for me, from me; so for and from are prepositions governing the Objective Case."

"You had better take care," said Preposition; "you keep on saying Objective Case, and if you say it before Judge Grammar, you know you will get us all into trouble again."

"Oh, never fear," said Serjeant Parsing; "the Judge will listen to us patiently enough, next time. Besides, he must hear about Objective Case, whether he likes it or no, because the prize will partly depend upon it."

"The prize! what prize?" cried everyone.

"Listen. There is to be a grand trial or examination soon. All the Schoolroom-shire children are to be invited, and all you Parts-of-Speech are to make up a story between you. You will each get a mark for every word you give, and whoever gets the most marks will get..."

"Yes, what? what will he get?" they all cried out eagerly.

"Ah! that is a secret. What I want to tell you is, that any word that governs another will get an extra mark. For instance, when I say 'Listen to me,' the preposition to puts me in the Objective Case, so to will get an extra mark."

"That is splendid!" cried little Preposition, clapping his hands and jumping about for joy. "I always govern a noun or pronoun in the Objective Case, so I shall get two marks every time I come in."

"Not quite so sure," interrupted Dr. Verb. "Sometimes you come before a verb, to eat, to sleep, to fly, and then you can only get one mark, for you do not govern me, my little dear, seeing that verbs do not have a case at all."

"Ah, but you have to agree with your Nominative Case, Dr. Verb," said Pronoun; "so I suppose, when I am nominative, I shall hive an extra mark, for I might be said to govern you in a sort of way."

"No, no," said Serjeant Parsing, putting in his word, "you are not said to govern Dr. Verb; he agrees with you, that is all; but the Nominative Case, being a very honorable one, will always get two marks."

"Then," said Mr. Noun, suddenly stopping his whistling and taking an interest in the conversation, "I am of course to get two marks for every noun in the Nominative Case?"

"Certainly," answered Serjeant Parsing.

"And in the Objective Case also?" asked Mr. Noun.

"No, no," said Serjeant Parsing, laughing; "that would be too much of a good thing, since your words are nearly always either nominative or objective. No, no; on the contrary, the Objective Case, being governed by other words (even such little trifles as prepositions), is not considered at all an honorable case, and therefore, will not only give a noun or pronoun no extra marks, but will take away one of those it already has. For instance, if I am parsing 'Come to me,' and I give Mr. Pronoun a mark for me, I must strike out that mark as soon as I find that me is in the Objective Case, and must give it to Preposition for his little word to, which governs me."

Mr. Noun and Mr. Pronoun both looked very dismal at these tidings, and then Mr. Noun said: "I hope no one else except Preposition can put me into the Objective Case."

"O yes, indeed, I can," cried Dr. Verb, bustling up, eagerly; but Serjeant Parsing stopped him.

"No, no, Dr. Verb," he said, "we are not going to begin that question. No notice will be taken of any noun or pronoun's being in the Objective Case, unless it is governed by a preposition. That is the rule for this trial; another time, perhaps, your rights will be considered."

Serjeant Parsing then took the following lines to Schoolroom-shire, that every Objective Case governed by a preposition might be found out.

Serjeant Parsing's exercises may be found in the Lesson Guide.

    Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt    

Lesson 15: Prepositions Govern the Objective Case


Over the two weeks:

  • Read or review the lesson each week.
  • Complete the assigned enrichment activities for each week.


Scandalized from being turned out of court, the Parts-of-Speech discuss the rule 'Whatever noun or pronoun a preposition is placed before and refers to, must be in the Objective Case.' The objective case is the form of nouns and pronouns when used as objects. For example, me, you, her, him, it, us, them, whom, and whomever.


Activity - Week 1: Find the Objective Case

Identify the objective case in Serjeant Parsing's story.


  • Tom called for me, I went with him,
  • We climbed upon a rock;
  • There over the sea we looked for thee,
  • Till seven of the clock.
  • And then a white sail over the main,
  • Brought back our sailor-boy again.

Activity - Week 2: Complete the Sentences

Fill up the blanks with a noun or pronoun, and say whether it will be a nominative (Subject form of I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, whoever) or objective (Object form of me, you, her, him, it, us, them, whom, and whomever).


  • ____________ went for a walk yesterday.
  • ____________ walked through a dark ____________ under tall ____________.
  • Suddenly, when ____________ were in a very lonely ____________,
  • ____________ heard the steps of some ____________ crashing through the ____________.
  • 'What can it be?' ____________ cried ____________ stopped to listen.
  • The ____________ came nearer,
  • two bright eyes gleamed at us through the ____________,
  • and in another ____________ out bounded,
  • with a deep ____________ that made echoes all round us.
  • Our own dear old ____________, who had broken his chain,
  • escaped from the ____________,
  • and had come out to look for ____________.