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.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing and social media tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness. Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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