Thursday, January 13, 2011

"I" or "Me"

One of my pet peeves is the use of "me" when it should be "I" or vice versa. TV commentators, newsmen (or women), politicians, movie stars, sports heros, and every day Joe's misuse the two constantly. From educated to uneducated and CEOs to mail clerks.

I corrected my sons on their grammar through their high school years. Then, one day, I said something and my oldest son corrected me. I was thrilled he'd learned the lessons I'd taught.

So, let's learn the true use of "I" and "me."

In Helen Wilkie's tip for today she explains it this way -  the simplest definition I've ever seen:

"People often confuse the use of "I" and "me" in sentences. The grammatical principle is that "I" is a subject pronoun and "me" is an object pronoun. Here's how that looks in practice:

I will ask John to guide Nancy and me through the process.
Nancy and I will work through the process together.

The simple way to choose the correct form is to remove the other subject from the picture altogether. For example, if Nancy wasn't in the sentence, would you say, "I will ask John to guide I through the process"? No, I didn't think so! You would use "me" in that case, and the fact that you added another subject doesn't change anything.

If you take Nancy out of the second sentence, would you say, "Me will work through the process"? Again, you wouldn't. You would use "I", and you still use "I" when you add another subject."

The same principle applies to other object/subject pronouns like who/whom. I hope I haven't broken any rules in pasting her solution here. 


  1. Thanks for clearing this up. The truth is (and I hate to admit it), but I never learned the rules for using "I" and "me"

  2. That was very helpful; most of us have problems with using I and me and your rules should guide me as I try to write using personal pronouns.