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What should come 'they' or 'them'? What rule should I apply here?

None so blind as they/them that will not see.

My thought process:

  1. The sentence has two independent clauses. "None so blind as they/them" is the first clause.
  2. The verb for the first clause is "blind".
  3. The subject for blind is they/them.
  4. 'they' is the nominative form. Therefore the correct sentence would be:

None so blind as they that will not see.


What would be the correct form below? Kindly mention what rule is being applied.

It isn't for such as they/them to dictate us.

  • 1
    "blind" can be a verb sometimes, but it is an adjective in this example. The real verb is implicit: "[There are] none so blind as..." – RJHunter May 21 '15 at 7:51
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    The idiom might be: "There's none so blind as those who will not see" -- The Free Dictionary by Farlex; or maybe "There are none so blind as those who will not see" wiktionary; or . . . – F.E. May 21 '15 at 7:52
  • 1
    @FE: Nice workarounds, and demonstrably more common way of phrasing the idiom, but they dodge the question. The question was not: "How is this idiom usually phrased? It was: If you had to choose " they" or "them", which is it? I suggest that the OP chose correctly, albeit not for exactly the right reason. – Brian Hitchcock May 21 '15 at 8:46
  • The word "that" never introduces an independent clause. In this saying, "that" (or "who", see @F.E.'s comment) introduces a dependent relative clause. – aschepler Apr 14 '18 at 12:37
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Your conclusion is correct for "none so blind...". However, this is not a sentence, and "blind" as used in it is not a verb—it is an adjective. As RJ Hunter pointed out, the verb "[there] are" is unstated. So you got the right answer for the wrong reason.

As for

  • It isn't for such as {they/them} to dictate to us.

The analysis goes like this:

  • It isn't for (such as) {they/them}. . .

  • it isn't for . . . {they/them}. . . Pronoun is the object of the preposition "for".

  • It isn't for such as them to dictate to us.

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It's easier to deal with the second example first. 

It isn't for such as them

You may note that I've dropped the infinitive phrase.  That should have no impact on how you analyze the word in question. 

This "them" is an object.  Specifically, it's the object of the preposition "as".  We use the same case for the objects of prepositions as we do for the direct and indirect objects of verbs. 

There is an obvioius way to have the subjective case make sense.  Use the word as the subject of a verb.  One such example is:

It isn't for such as they are.

In this case, "they are" is a clause.  The subject is "they" and the verb is "are".  We can still treat "as" as a preposition, but, if we do, we have to realize that it's the entire clause "they are" which is its object.  Clauses don't change case.  It's also common to call this "as" a subordinating conjunction.

The verb in the subordinate clause is not a repetition of the verb in the matrix clause, although both verbs are forms of "to be". 

 
 

none [are] so blind as them
none [are] so blind as they [are [blind]]

This example offers you a choice.

The simplest choice is to treat this the same as the first.  The "them" is the object of the preposition "as".  On its own and as an object, it takes the objective case. 

It's also possible to treat the pronoun as if it were not on its own.  In this construction we can repeat the verb and adjective complement of the matrix clause to form a subordinate clause.  Since the clauses are parallel, we can even leave the predicate unwritten in the subordinate clause. 

You may note that I've dropped the relative clause which modified "they/them".  Like dropping the infinitive, this should have no impact on how you analyze the word in question.

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I always knew it as "There are none so blind as those who will not see", attributed to John Heywood (1546 approx)

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