Why Halsey is right to sing “I” (but not “him”): subject complements

A little musical grammar in the spotlight this week.

I am his, and he is mine
In the end, it’s him and I, him and I

Sticklers who’ve listened to G-Eazy and Halsey’s Him and I might flinch at the mismatched pronouns. Him and I can’t go together, just as he and her, or them and she can’t.

Subject and object pronouns

Subject complements

As English is governed by the subject-verb-object sentence structure, it’s tempting to think Halsey should sing In the end it’s him and me.

However, there’s a group of verbs called linking verbs. The word following these verbs can be the same subject as the original, called a subject complement. Those linking verbs are:

  • be (am, is, are, will be, was, were)
  • become
  • seem

and sometimes ones like appear, feel, sound, look and grow.

Grammar Bytes! tells us that if we can substitute an equals sign in place of the verb, the following word is a subject complement, so if it’s a pronoun we use the subject pronoun.

It = I sent the email

It is I who sent the email 

This = she who designed our poster

This is she who designed our poster

Another way of looking at it is the word following the linking verb does not complete a statement. It describes the subject again, or complements it.

Therefore if Halsey wanted to be a complete grammar pedant, she could sing: In the end, it’s he and I, and still rhyme!

Have a look at my Punctuation and Grammar Masterclass course for more grammar nonsense.

8 thoughts on “Why Halsey is right to sing “I” (but not “him”): subject complements”

  1. Hahaha! Honestly, I cannot even listen to this song because of the use of “Him and I”, and the nominative pronoun used with the objective pronoun. It would have been just as “G-eazy” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for her to say, “In the end, it’s him and me.”

    1. It might have been just as easy, but it would have also been just as wrong. This song makes me sad for young people trying to learn correct grammar. On the other hand, it is a great and current teachable example of incorrect grammar usage. So maybe I will stop being sad.

      1. Actualy Christina is correct. The easiest most simple way to determine which words to use is to take out one of the subjects. For example you would either say, “in the end it’s me” OR “in the end it’s him.” You would never say, “in the end it’s he” or “in the end it’s I.”

        So in conclusion, the correct grammar is, “in the end it’s him and me” (or me and him). Hope this helps!

  2. I got fired from a journalism job for a grammar error (a comma splice where I needed a semi-colon) in the middle of an article, and was ridiculed for it. My manager and co-workers pretty much said I was an embarrassment to the profession and that I need to pursue an education instead of making a mockery of journalism. Even after leaving the job, I kept receiving emails about how I soiled their reputation. This celebrity made tons of money with a major grammar error in both the chorus and the title of the song, and hardly anyone notices.

  3. Ha, ha! Yes! I can’t even listen to that song – I hate that even if I hear a little bit of it, it gets stuck in my head and I’m annoyed for another 30 min. On the plus side, my daughters received a nice little grammar lesson in the car one day!

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