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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.

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


8 Comments

8 Responses to “I vs. Me (Review)”

  1. Rolan Ramos says:

    Here’s one that drives me nuts: Its between she and I.

    –Of course, that’s completely wrong.

    It’s between me and her.

    And another: Anymore, we have

    • Some dictionaries note that anymore is widely used in regional American English in sentences with the meaning “nowadays.” However, it would not be acceptable in formal English.

  2. Ann M. says:

    While I was watching “Death Comes to Pemberley” on PBS the past couple of nights, I noticed several instances of “poor grammar” coming out of the mouths of the early 19th century English gentry. They repeatedly used “I” in place of “me” as a direct or indirect object, e.g., “He brought John and I home.” or “He gave Lydia and I a book.” There were a couple of other oddities, as well, which I cannot recall at the moment. Is this, as I fear, the result of poorly educated 21st century actors & directors, who are attempting to sound “proper” ? Or, is it possible that 19th century Brits actually spoke in that affected manner? I could Google it, but I thought I might see if you have any information about “old fashioned” grammar.

  3. Deane M. says:

    Can’t seem to find this question addressed on your website nor can I find a Blog for it.

    Can you settle a bet? Which is correct :

    “She is older than I.”…….as In “Older than I am old.”

    or

    “She is older than me.”

    I’m going with “Me.”

    • Sorry, Deane, but you’re going to lose that bet. You can find the answer in Rule 7 of Pronouns. As you guessed at first, you must mentally complete the sentence: “She is older than I [am].”

      • Deane M. says:

        Dang.
        This was my reasoning :
        “Than” is a preposition (right?) and as such takes the objective case, i.e., Me, You, He, Her, Us, Them—which is why we say “Between you and me” rather than “Between you and I”.
        What am I doing wrong? I defer to you guys!
        Thanks for your answer.

        • We need to separate formal English grammar from informal spoken English. Yes, between is a preposition, but than is formally considered to be a conjunction. You may commonly hear “She is older than me” in speech, but that would be considered incorrect by most critics and editors in written form.

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