“I” vs. “me” – one of the easiest grammar rules to learn, really and truly

I admit it: this is one of my biggest pet peeves, heard everywhere from erudite scholars to less-than-brainy reality TV stars. Either way, somehow it’s come to be understood that in the English language, when in doubt, use “I” and you will likely be speaking correct grammar and sound intelligent too. Not so, people!

While both are pronouns that refer to oneself, there is a simple explanation for the difference between the two (and the key to their use). Use “I” when you are the subject of a sentence; use “me” when you are the object of the sentence. Remember sentence diagrams? At their most basic: [Subject] followed by [verb] followed by [object].

What messes people up though is when you have more than one person as the subject or the object, when the sentence is “He and I went to the store.” Okay, easy enough, “he and I” is correct here. But which of these sentences is correct?

- At the store, the manager congratulated he and I.
- At the store, the manager congratulated him and I.
- At the store, the manager congratulated him and me.

In the above examples, the manager is the subject and therefore, “me” is the object, and the third sentence is the correct one. “The manager congratulated him” – easy.  But add another person so it’s not singular anymore and it messes people up. You wouldn’t say, “the manager congratulated I” but a lot of people would have said “the manager congratulated him and I” and think they’re speaking correctly when they’re not.

The easiest way to tell when “I” is correct and when “me” is correct is to remove the other noun (or person) from the sentence and see if it still makes sense.

Examples of the correct use of “I”
- Georgia and I went to the beach this weekend.

I went to the beach this weekend. Me went to the beach this weekend doesn’t make sense. Easy, I know.

- She and I have to make bouillabaisse.

I have to make bouillabaisse. She has to make bouillabaisse. Her has to make bouillabaisse and me has to make bouillabaisse don’t make sense. Still easy, but wait.

Examples of the correct use of “me”

- Please come with Randolph and me to the monster truck rally.

Take out Randolph and it’s “Please come with me to the monster truck rally.” Please come with I to the monster truck rally doesn’t make sense.

- I heard the diplomat talking about him and me.

(Again, take out the other person):
Correct: I heard the diplomat talking about me. I heard the diplomat talking about him.

Incorrect: I heard the diplomat talking about I, or I heard the diplomat talking about he don’t make sense.

Now, go forth and speak properly (dammit)!

Postscript:
Need a good primer on grammar? I highly recommend this book, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed. Herewith is Amazon’s glowing Editorial Review:

Karen Elizabeth Gordon is no ordinary grammarian, and her works (including The New Well-Tempered Sentence, Torn Wings and Faux Pas, and The Disheveled Dictionary)–are no ordinary books of grammar. A special edition of the 1984 classic, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is populated by a wickedly decadent cast of gargoyles, mastodons, murderous debutantes, and, yes, vampires (both transitive and otherwise), who cavort and consort in order to illustrate basic principles of grammar. The sentences are intoxicating–”How he loved to dangle his participles, brush his forelock off his forehead with his foreleg, and gaze into the aqueous depths”–but the rules and their explanations are as sound as any you might find in Strunk and White.

Outlining the building blocks of the English language, from parts of speech to phrases and clauses, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire goes on to exorcise such grammatical demons as passive voice, fragments, comma splices, and run-on sentences. At last, a handbook of grammar you will actually want to read.

About these ads

Tags:

13 Responses to ““I” vs. “me” – one of the easiest grammar rules to learn, really and truly”

  1. Joesph Dreyer Says:

    Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and internet and this is really irritating. A good website with interesting content, that is what I need. Thanks for keeping this web-site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  2. cabinete stomatologice Says:

    …Recent Blogroll Additions…

    I will right away grab your rss as I can not find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please let me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks….

  3. newrepublicoftexas.com Says:

    Hi, I do believe this is a great website. I stumbledupon it ;) I am going to revisit yet again since i have bookmarked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be
    rich and continue to help other people.

  4. Sophia Says:

    thank god for this. You made it easy

  5. Celebs without makeup Says:

    Thank you, I’ve just been looking for information about this subject for ages and yours is the best I’ve discovered so far.
    But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you certain about
    the supply?

  6. Alica Says:

    First of all I would like to say wonderful blog!
    I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or tips? Appreciate it!

    • marilynlatham Says:

      I find it’s best just to start. Put words on paper and get the flow going. Afterwards, you can revisit your intro and rewrite it, but don’t let putting the first words down stop you from simply getting going!

      Sorry for the delayed reply, by the way.

  7. sleep apnea Says:

    I like the valuable info you supply on your articles.

    I will bookmark your weblog and check again right here regularly.

    I’m reasonably certain I’ll be told many new stuff proper right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  8. Susanne Says:

    Hi! I’ve been following your web site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great work!

  9. Gabor Says:

    Thank you very much for your post. These were the most easily understandable explanations I have ever received on this subject.

  10. Shelley Says:

    Okay, I admit it. I have 22 years of education and cannot write a simple Thank you note….even after reading many web searches for correct usages of “me” and “I”. So I hope you can help me! Which is correct? Dear Mother and Father, Thank you for inviting Andrew and I to dinner, or Dear Mother and Father, Thank you for inviting Andrew and me to dinner? “me” sounds better when I remove “Andrew and”, but does not flow well. Which is correct?

    • marilynlatham Says:

      “Andrew and me” is correct, or if you prefer (for flow) “me and Andrew.” It’s sad that the incorrect usage (in this case, Andrew and I) has become so common, that “me” often sounds incorrect even when it isn’t!

      In grammatical terms, I is the subject. me is the the object. Subject verb object. Andrew and I went to dinner. He invited me and Andrew to dinner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: