Chicago Style Workout 40: Grammar, Part 4

Aim for your personal best!

This month’s Chicago style workout, “Grammar, Part 4,” focuses on paragraphs 5.39–51 of CMOS 17, which cover personal pronouns, including their possessive and reflexive forms. There’s also one question about demonstrative pronouns (CMOS 5.52).

(Hint: You don’t need to know all the terminology to take the quiz, but it will help if you know a little.)

Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual (cited in the answers). (For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

Note: Style guides and dictionaries sometimes disagree. This quiz is designed to test your knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

[Editors’ note: Chapter 5 of CMOS is quite large, comprising 248 numbered sections on grammar and syntax, plus another hefty chunk on usage. For the sake of variety, workouts will revisit the chapter periodically rather than continuously.]

Chicago Style Workout 40: Grammar, Part 4

1. The pronoun “it,” which does not usually refer to a person, is not a true personal pronoun.
2. Whereas a first-person pronoun refers to the speaker (“I”), a second-person pronoun refers to the speaker plus a second person (“we”).
3. If the pronoun is the subject of a clause, it is in the nominative case (“she is president”).
4. If a prepositional phrase contains more than one object, only the first one is in the objective case (“will you send an invitation to him and I?”).
5. It is strictly correct to answer the phone “This is he,” not “This is him.”
6. “My sister looks more like our father than me” is grammatically incorrect; it should be “than I.”
7. As a gender-neutral singular pronoun, “they” takes a plural verb (“they have”).
8. When it is used with the preposition “of,” the possessive form of a personal pronoun retains an apostrophe: “that letter of Sheila’s” becomes “that letter of her’s.”
9. A reflexive pronoun should be used in a compound object to achieve a polite tone: “Deliver the equipment to my partner or myself.”
10. The demonstrative pronoun “these” in “these have just arrived” cannot refer to people.


Photo: Bowling at Camp Zama, by Sgt. John L. Carkeet IV, US Army Japan, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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One thought on “Chicago Style Workout 40: Grammar, Part 4

  1. So with number 6. there isn’t enough information to make the correct determination. And the explanation allows for either answer to be correct depending on the speaker’s meaning: I assumed it to be saying the sister looks more like their father than the speaker looks like the father. But apparently, the intention was that the sister looks more like her father than she looks like the speaker. It is an ambiguous sentence and I would definitely reword it to remove the ambiguity. CMOS explanation:
    “If the question is whether the sister or the speaker looks more like their father, the pronoun should be nominative because it is the subject of an understood verb {my sister looks more like our father than I do}. But if the question is whether the father or the speaker looks more like the sister, the pronoun should be objective because it is the object of a preposition in an understood clause {my sister looks more like my father than she looks like me}.” So either pronoun is potentially correct, but it would be better to reword the sentence to avoid the ambiguity.”

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