Before You Hit Publish, Week 10: Me, My, and I

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We have a serious problem.

In school, many of us have had “me” bashed out of our brains.

Teachers struggle with teaching young children to use “so-and-so and I” to replace “we.” Which is correct, of course. But I think they stress it so much that many of us have grown up afraid to use the word me.

Every time I watch TV … every time I see someone use the (NOT A REAL) word I’s … every time I see the phrase “between you and I,” I have to cringe a little.

Here is my basic rule: if you were to take out the other person’s name, would you use I or would you use me?

  • Example: Today Caroline and I decided to go to the mall.

Verdict: CORRECT. Because “Today I decided to go to the mall” is right.

  • Example: Purple is Amanda and I’s favorite color.

Verdict: Just shoot me. NEVER EVER EVER use I’s. Correction: Purple is Amanda’s and my favorite color. Yes, I realize this sounds a little awkward. But take away the other subject and see how it works. “Purple is Amanda’s favorite color.” “Purple is my favorite color.”

  • Example: I think Susan is trying to attack Fred and I.

Verdict: WRONG. If we were to take Fred out of the picture, you would know that the correct word there is me, right? [I think Susan is trying to attack me.] Correction: I think Susan is trying to attack Fred and me.

Grammar Girl does point out that following a linking verb, a verb describing a state of being such as is, one generally uses the subject pronoun (I, you, they, he, she) rather than the object pronoun (them, us, her, him). She also confides, though, that even grammarians give you slack on this rule. So don’t worry about it too much. “It is I” or “It is me,” not that big of a deal. Above rules: bigger deal.

Do you struggle with this? Or do you, like me, watch Big Brother and want to throw things at the TV?

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Watching Like a Writer: OK, I know this is silly and perhaps just me. But watch some TV in the next week and come back and tell me one mistake you hear someone make. I know they’re out there!!

Want to know one of my other pet peeves? When, in Project Runway, Heidi says the six contestants being judged “represent” the best and the worst scores. NO. They WERE the best and worst that night. I’m not sure she … or the writers … quite understand the word represent.


15 thoughts on “Before You Hit Publish, Week 10: Me, My, and I

  1. YES! Thank you for writing about this! It's one of my biggest pet peeves. I never correct anyone because I'm scared it will come off snobby, but gosh…it drives me up a wall. Well put!

  2. I often want to correct my colleagues at school who misuse this in writing, but there's a very fine line between being helpful and being obnoxious. Misusing subject and object pronouns is bad enough when talking, because it can be passed off as a colloquialism or informal language, but when a teacher does it on a poster or handout, please tie me to my desk so I don't embarrass myself and my colleague.

  3. I get very tired of people using "myself" in place of "me." For example, "Tony, Sandra, and myself went to the store." No, you didn't! "Tommy, Sandra and I went the store." Thank you!

  4. YES! This is my biggest pet peeve! I hear it often from very educated people. It is very annoying. I agree with Jeanette, the new misused word is "myself". They just sound stupid!

  5. Another grammar geek!! I love it.
    This grammar issue drives me crazy also. As a child we were drilled with "noun and I", ex: Bob and I. In college I learned the rule that you stated, and I have found in most cases you use "I" at the beginning of a sentence and "me" when it is after the verb/subject/etc.

    So I am not the only one who reads "Grammar Girl", "Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies", "Woe is I", and my favorite "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" for fun. lol.

  6. I was going to say, "Woe is I," but someone else beat me to it. (Or is it "…beat myself to it?") (…and should I close the parenthesis between the '?' and the '"'?) (…and should I even use all these parentheses and quotation marks?)

    This whole series has been very helpful.

  7. YES!! That has always driven me crazy also. I cringe when I hear it, but feel obnoxious pointint out grammatical errors to others. My own children are a different story…

    I appreciate the grammar girl tip also. I have been taught to answer the phone with "This is she.", but I didn't understand the rule to apply it elsewhere.

    Thank you!

  8. Thank you! You just made my day 🙂 I thought I was the only one. My other pet peeve that could be included with this is the misuse of "myself" as in: "if you have any questions, please contact so-and-so or myself". Unfortunately, grammar is no longer taught in school. I learned it from my parents and I will be drilling it into my kids' heads as well. And don't get me started on those apostrophes; or there, their, and they're… and I especially love "your stupid".

  9. Thank you I know I'd be guilty of saying Purple is Amanda and my's favourite coulour so thank you for pointing this out.

    As a child my mum was very strict with our use of language and I'm so glad.

    My pet peeve is, I think, a Northern Irish mis-speak – saying I done instead of I did or I have done – aahhh! – I cringe every time.

    When my hubs and I started dating he would always use come and came the wrong way round but having gently suggested 🙂 that he be more careful of his usage he made the effort to get his head round it – love that man!


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