The following is a reader submission.
Would you mind elaborating on which is correct and why:
If I were him I would think twice before cutting his hair.
If I were he I would think twice before cutting his hair.
If I were (he or him) I would think twice before cutting my hair. Is he or him the direct object?
Thanks for writing, Brent, and great question. It seems there are two parts to your question.
First, technically-speaking, it would be most correct to say “If I were he”. In this case, the verb to be (were) acts as a linking verb, linking the subject (I) with the subject complement (he). In this case, the subject and the complement should agree, thus the complement should be in the subject form (he) not object form (him).
That being said, I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who speaks like that anymore. If you want to follow the letter of the law, yet not sound pretentious, I suggest rewording the sentence.
One alternative might be: If I were in his place. The second part of your sentence would be “I would cut my hair” since I is the subject. If you want to avoid making the choice between the two, you could use the alternative “I would get a haircut”.
I hope that answers your question.
Email me your grammar questions. I’ll be sure to post the question and answer here.
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