Let’s say you went for lunch with a male friend of yours. Would you say “he and I went for lunch” or “him and I went for lunch”?
In this article, we’ll be looking what whether you should be saying “he and I” or “him and I”. And how you can follow some reasonable rules to find out the answer for yourself.
Please bear in mind that whilst this article will be talking about males, from a grammatical perspective you can still follow the same rules when talking about a female friend. Should it be “she and I want to lunch” or “her and I went to lunch”?
The short answer: Subjects act and objects are acted upon. And “He” is a subject (He acts) whereas “Him” is an object (actions are acted upon him). For this reason, it should be “He and I” and both words are subjects.
What we can assume
When using either word “him” or “he” you can automatically assume three facts.
The first one is that I’m talking about someone and not something. If I was talking about something, I would not be able to talk about gender as inanimate objects don’t have the… physical aspects, required to have a gender.
Secondly, you can assume that the “someone” I’m talking about is a male. Otherwise, I would be saying “she” or “her”.
And finally, you can assume that I’m talking about one person. If I went to lunch we a group of people I would say “they and I” or “them and I”.
This is regardless as to whether I went to lunch with all males, or whether I went to lunch with a mixture of men and women.
Subjects vs Objects
I vs Me
One other interesting factor of the phrase “him/he and I” is the use of the word “I” rather than me. That’s because “I” is a subject but “me” is an object.
“The dog licked me” is using the dog as the subject (the one who performed the action) but “me” as the object (the one who was acted upon).
You can reverse the roles of the subject and the object by changing it into “I was licked by the dog”.
Similarly, when you use the word “he” you’re using it as a subject.
By saying “he went to lunch with me”, the subject is “he” as in this sentence “he” is the one performing the action. And “me” is the object as you’re the one who is having the action performed upon you.
Just so we clear up any confusion subjects act, but objects are acted upon. That’s why we say that some people can be “objectified” as they’re acted upon rather than acting themselves.
“Him” on the other hand, is an object. Something that is acted upon. “I went to lunch with him”. “I” is the subject as you’re the one performing, but “he” is the object, as he’s the one who’s being acted upon.
You might also say the phrase “I adore him”. You are the actor, adoration is the action, and he is the person who is being acted upon.
It can be confusing to think that we have different words for the same thing when we’re talking about objects or subjects. But that’s just the way the English language is.
He and I
And that leads us to the title of the article. The answer to the question you want to know is…. He!
And you can tell by following these rules.
If you remove the phrase “and I”, you can figure out which one makes more sense. Would you say “He went to lunch” or “Him went to lunch”? Of course, you would say “He” as he is the subject.
He is the one who is performing the action (going to lunch). To use “him” you would need to change the sentence to “I went to lunch with him”.
The same rule
I not me
You can use this same method to figure out why you should be saying “I” rather than “me”. You need to remove the “He and”. And work out which sentence would make more sense.
Would it make more sense to say “I went to lunch” or “me went to lunch”?
Unless you’re the Incredible Hulk, you would say “I went to lunch”.
“I” is the subject.
If you want to say “me” the sentence should be “He went to lunch with me”.
What’s interesting about this sentence is that it has two subjects, “he” and “I”.
The subjects are “He” and I”, the action is going to, and the object is lunch.
They not them
When you’re talking about groups of people (regardless as to how many people from each gender), you can follow the same rules.
Would you say “Them went to lunch”? No. This makes no sense. You would have to say “I went to lunch with them”.
However, you would say “They went to lunch”.
For this reason, it’s okay to say “They and I” but not “Them and I”.
And once again “They” and “I” are both subjects, with lunch being the object.
However, there is quite an interesting twist to all this.
Whilst we’ve spoken about the rules and logic, these are not what determine language.
Language is a democratic process. Words and phrases that are used often, and understood by most people are deemed to be “correct”.
So even though “Him and I” are grammatically incorrect, because it’s commonly used, you can say it without raising any eyebrows.
The same of course applies to “her and I” and “them and I”.
It’s a strange language when something can break the rules, but still be okay for no other reason than “because we say so”.
Subjects act and objects are acted upon. And “He” is a subject (He acts) whereas “Him” is an object (actions are acted upon him). For this reason, it should be “He and I” and both words are subjects.
And you can tell this by removing the “and I” part to get “He went to lunch” rather than “Him went to lunch”. The same applies when talking about women or groups.
Similarly, it should be “He and I” not “He and Me”. As “me” is an object.
However, because of the democratic nature of language, many of us regularly break the rules to say “Him and I”.