Student or Learner
I need help with pronoun noun agreement. Please look at this phrase
"Let ___ who can answer this question" (he, him)
I have trouble deciding whether I should fill the blank with he or him.
I think the word should be he, because "who" comes after the blank, which indicates it is pointing to a subject, hence the word he is used since it is in the nominative form. However, I have been told that him should be used. Can anybody explain to me why him should be used?
Way back, the phrasing 'go we' began to be replaced by "Let us go...". Here, it is clear the objective case pronoun follows 'let'. Then, around Shakespeare's time, the nominative pronoun again appeared in constructions where two nouns/pronouns were joined, as in "Let us make a convenant, thou and I." and then, "Let us go then, you and I."
So - speakers then began using the nominative when the two members occurred after 'let' as in "Let he who casts the ..." However, some grammarians insisted on changing the 'he' to 'him' - Let him who casts..."
The reason for the appearance of the nominative pronoun in place of the objective is that the pronoun has come to be perceived as also the subject of the following verb because of its position alongside 'who', the real subject, whereas 'him' is in fact the object of 'let'.
That is, as if 'he' is the subject of 'casts', when it is in fact the object of 'let'.
This means that, correctly, it should be:
"Let him who can answer this question"
Do so, and most people will think you have made a grammatical error. (And personally, I think "Let he who is..." sounds far nicer and loftier than "Let him...".)
Use the "Let he who..." construction. You will be in the company of some great writers in English literature!
Last edited by David L.; 04-Apr-2009 at 13:31.
It should be "Let him who can answer the question." The reason is that the main clause in the sentence is "Let him answer the question." "who can" is merely an added relative clause modifying "him."