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 us 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.

Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at 5:20 pm

10 Comments on I vs. Me

10 responses to “I vs. Me

  1. Stjepan Pavljasevic says:

    GrammarBook said:
    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.

    What about this example: It is something between you and I?
    Which rule does apply here? We have the state-of-being verb “is” here, hence we should use “I”. But then this example contradicts the GrammarBook example.

    • The state-of-being verb is contained in the clause “It is something.” The pronouns are objects of the preposition “between.” Therefore, use “me.”

    • Chris says:

      I find it helpful when considering these “between” problems to replace the word “between” with “within” and making it just about me. So in this case, it would obviously be “It is within me”, not “It is within I”. I hope that that helps!

  2. Doug Carlson says:

    A useful follow-up article could discuss proper uses of reflexive pronouns, such as “myself.” Misuse of reflexive pronouns has become common, such as, “David and myself talked to the visiting head coach after the game” (instead of the simple “David and I”).

  3. Stewart Shane says:

    I so often hear “I vs me” errors in movies and on TV. Why? Do professional writers not know the simple rules regarding nominative and objective pronouns? Or do script writers dumb down their dialogue because they think their audience is stupid or afraid to hear correctly spoken English? Or what? I am so sick of terrible grammar being foisted upon movie goers and TV watchers. I find such grammar errors akin to (or worse than) scratching on a chalkboard.

  4. Ernest A. says:

    In what category do the indirect object and reflexive pronouns belong to?

      • Indirect Objects

      She gave me the book. (object = book, indirect object = me)
      He gave her the rose. (object = rose, indirect object = her)

      An indirect object would fall under Object Pronouns.

        Reflexive Pronouns

      I myself don’t believe one word of the story. (Here the reflexive pronoun myself is an emphatic pronoun repeating the subject. It’s essentially a non-punctuated appositive, which renames, restates, or explains the word or words it refers to.)
      We enjoyed ourselves. (Here the reflexive pronoun ourselves is an object that renames the subject.)

      Reflexive pronouns can be either Subject or Object Pronouns depending on the usage and context.

  5. roger says:

    Hi Guys!
    I was born and raised in the US with Asian parents who both wrote for a living. Anyway, none of it rubbed up on me because every time they tried to teach me, I fell asleep. Now I have a problem that I know you can solve.
    I don’t want to bore you with the story behind how this came to be but here’s the question;
    Pronoun (I): In present tenses, nouns and verbs form plurals in opposite ways nouns ADD an s to the singular form, BUT
    verbs REMOVE an s from the singular form.
    it’s all good; but what about this?
    He sees, she sees, it sees….. I sees? Even to someone who is as careless as I am in grammar, This is wrong…
    could someone please explain this to me? ever since a friend asked me this question which he hoped I would be able to answer, it kind of woke me up and embarrassed me at the same time- that knowing how to explain what you know, is as important as knowing itself.

    • Forming the plurals of verbs can be complicated. Verbs with a third-person singular noun or pronoun as a subject have an added s on the end. With plural nouns (but also the singular pronouns I and you) there is never an added s at the end of a verb. More information can be found in our post When to Add s to a Verb.

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