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I vs. Me (Review)

I get more questions about pronoun usage, particularly I vs. me, than any other topic. So, here is a review that should help you feel more secure about your choices. For more on the topic, click here.

Should we say, “She and I went to the store”? Or is it correct to say, “She and me went to the store”?

Is it, “He put suntan lotion on him and I”? Or would you say, “He put suntan lotion on him and me”?

Many of us were taught to be suspicious of me, as though uttering this “dirty” word would make us sound uneducated. But the question of whether to use I or me comes down to whether you are using the word as a subject or as an object in the sentence. Both words are pronouns, but I is a subject pronoun while me is an object pronoun.

So, in the sentence, “She and I went to the store,” the correct word to use would be I rather than me. Why? Because I is the subject of the sentence. (Who is going to the store? She and I are going to the store.)

One good way to test this rule is to see how it sounds when you use each pronoun individually: It sounds right to say, “She went to the store.” You would also say, “I went to the store.”

“He put suntan lotion on him and me” would be correct because him and me are objects. Specifically, they are objects of the preposition on. “He put suntan lotion on him” is obviously correct rather than “on he.” You would also say, “He put suntan lotion on me,” not “on I.”

Pop Quiz
Select the correct sentence.

1A. Arlene asked he and I to complete the job.
1B. Arlene asked him and me to complete the job.

2A. He and I completed the job for Arlene.
2B. Him and me completed the job for Arlene.

Answers to Pop Quiz

1B. Arlene asked him and me to complete the job.
2A. He and I completed the job for Arlene.

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Posted on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at 9:30 am


Pronoun Tips

Pronouns take the place of nouns.

Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they

Object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, them

Rule: Use a subject pronoun, not only as the subject of a sentence, but after to be verbs when the pronoun renames the subject.

To be
verbs:
is, are, was, were, will be, may be, may have been, etc.

Example: He is my friend.
He is the subject of the sentence, so use a subject pronoun.

Example: Enrique and she are friends.
Enrique and she are the subjects of the sentence.

Example:
It is I who called.
I comes after the to be verb is and renames the subject it. Therefore, use the subject pronoun.

Rule: Use an object pronoun when the pronoun is the direct object, the indirect object, or the object of the preposition.

Example: Ella met him at the restaurant.
Him is the direct object.

Example: Ella will give him his money back.
Him is an indirect object because you can mentally put the word to in front of it. Money is the direct object.

Example: Between you and me, this will never work.
You and me are the objects of the preposition between.

Rule: Use reflexive pronouns—myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves—to refer back to another noun or pronoun in the sentence.

Correct: I did it myself.

Incorrect: Please give it to Butri or myself.
In this sentence, myself does not refer back to another noun or pronoun.

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Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007, at 1:05 am


Whoever vs. Whomever

In the “English Rules” section of our website, GrammarBook.com, you will find our simple explanation for determining whether to use who or whom.

Briefly, this is the trick:
who = he (subject pronouns)
whom = him (object pronouns)

Example: Who/Whom is at the door?
He is at the door.

Example: For who/whom should I vote?
Should I vote for him?

To determine whether to use whoever or whomever,  the he/him trick still applies:
he = whoever
him = whomever

Rule 1: The presence of whoever or whomever indicates a dependent clause. Use whoever or whomever to agree with the verb in that dependent clause, regardless of the rest of the sentence.

Examples:
Give it to whoever/whomever asks for it first.
He asks for it first. Therefore, whoever is correct.

We will hire whoever/whomever you recommend.
You recommend him. Therefore, whomever is correct.

We will hire whoever/whomever is most qualified.
He is most qualified. Therefore, whoever is correct.

 

Rule 2: When the entire whoever/whomever clause is the subject of the verb that follows the clause, analyze the clause to determine whether to use whoever or whomever.

Examples:
Whoever is elected will serve a four-year term.
Whoever is the subject of is elected. The clause whoever is elected is the subject of will serve.

Whomever you elect will serve a four-year term.
Whomever is the object of elect. Whomever you elect is the subject of will serve.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Omar will talk about his girlfriend with whoever/whomever asks him.
  2. Kimiko donates her time to whoever/whomever needs it most.
  3. Quinton will work on the project with whoever/whomever you suggest.
  4. Whoever/Whomever wins the lottery will become a millionaire.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

  1. Omar will talk about his girlfriend with whoever asks him.
  2. Kimiko donates her time to whoever needs it most.
  3. Quinton will work on the project with whomever you suggest.
  4. Whoever wins the lottery will become a millionaire.

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Posted on Sunday, May 27, 2007, at 9:41 pm


I vs. Me

You don’t need to learn how to diagram a sentence to be able to learn the rules of grammar and punctuation. Let me help you use pronouns correctly without any unnecessary jargon.

First, let’s define a pronoun: a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. We can divide pronouns into three categories:

Subject pronouns
I, you, he, she, it, we, they

Object pronouns
me, you, him, her, it, us, them

Possessive pronouns
mine, my, yours, his, hers, her, its, ours, theirs

The following rule not only makes sense but is simple.

Rule: Use one of the subject pronouns when it is the subject of the sentence.

Example: I hit the ball.
Who hit the ball? I did. So “I” is the subject.

Usually, these subject pronouns sound right to most of us.

Example: He and I will meet at the gym.
Who will meet at the gym? He will meet at the gym. I will meet at the gym. So “he” and “I” are both the subjects.

Sometimes we want to say, “Him and me will . . .” or “Him and I will . . . .” You can remember the correct pronouns by saying each pronoun alone in the sentence. It probably won’t sound right to you to say, “Him will . . .” or “Me will . . . .”

Now, this next rule is difficult because it doesn’t sound right to most of us.

Rule: Use a subject pronoun following state-of-being verbs such as am, are, is, was, were, appeared, seemed, etc.

Example: It is she.
Example: It was we who won the election.

Because we don’t speak this way, we can’t use our ear to help us with this rule. This is a good time to discuss the difference between spoken language and written language, particularly when it comes to tests and formal papers. We speak informally but must write more formally. Frankly, if I knock on someone’s door and am asked, “Who is it?” I am not going to say, “It is I” for fear that the person on the other side of the door will think I’m weird and never open up. However, if I am taking an exam or writing a report, I will try to spot these state-of-being verbs and check my pronoun usage.

The next rule does sound right to most of us.

Rule: Use one of the object pronouns when the pronoun is not a subject and it doesn’t follow a state-of-being verb.

Example: Nancy gave the gift to her.
Example: Please remind him or me.

(Remember, leave out one of the pronouns and you will be able to hear the correct answer.) Many of us have been brainwashed to believe that “I” is somehow more correct than “me.” Not so. “I” and “me” follow the same rules as all other pronouns. Would you say, “Please give it to I”? Of course not.

Example: Between you and me, I think Sandy cheated.

Again, me is not the subject nor does it follow one of those state-of-being verbs. So we must use the object case. (For those of you with some grammar background, you and me in that sentence are both objects of the preposition between.)

 

Pop Quiz
Select the correct sentence.

1A. Arlene asked he and I to complete the job.
1B. Arlene asked he and me to complete the job.
1C. Arlene asked him and I to complete the job.
1D. Arlene asked him and me to complete the job.

2A. He and I completed the job for Arlene.
2B. He and me completed the job for Arlene.
2C. Him and I completed the job for Arlene.
2D. Him and me completed the job for Arlene.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1D. Arlene asked him and me to complete the job.

2A. He and I completed the job for Arlene.

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Posted on Saturday, April 1, 2006, at 10:09 pm