Grammar Lesson: “I” vs. “Me”

grammar-lessonI vs. me. I am not referring to a terrible internal or spiritual struggle, nor am I obliquely hinting at a multiple personality disorder. This is a grammar lesson.

When you are the subject of a sentence—that is, the person doing something—you use “I.” Examples:

  • “I went to the store.”
  • “I wish you would shut up about the store already.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

Most people have no problem with this.

Now, when you are the object of a sentence—in other words, the person getting something done to you or for you—you use “me.” Examples:

  • “The store came to me.” (It doesn’t have to make sense for it to be grammatically correct.)
  • “He told me to shut up.”
  • “She told me she’s sorry.”

Here’s where people tend to go wrong. (This is the Listen Up! part.) If you are included in a plural subject OR a plural object, the rules for “I” and “me” are the same! Here are some examples of plural subjects:

  • “He and I went to the store.”
  • “Ellen and I wish you would shut up about the store already.”

And here are some examples of plural objects:

  • “Don’t you ever think about him and me?”
  • “She told my mom and me she’s sorry.”

It’s the plural objects that trip people up. I think it’s because “he and I” and “Ellen and I” are drilled into us when we are young so that we don’t grow up asking, “Can him and me go to the store?” So many of us want to say, “She told my mom and I she’s sorry,” because there’s a “mom and I” in there. But don’t. Just don’t. If she told me, then she told my mom and me.

This gets especially awkward when people twist up their grammar with possessives. Please, please, for the love of all things grammatical, avoid these painful convolutions: “Please come to Allison and I’s party.” “Don’t even consider missing her and my’s party.” Dear people, while it did not literally (oh, let’s talk about that later, shall we?) hurt to type those examples, be assured that it did pain me. Allow me: “Please come to Allison and my party.” “Don’t even consider missing her and my party.” If you just can’t bear that construction, rework your sentence altogether: “Please come to the party. Allison and I are hosting it together!” “Don’t even consider missing our party!”

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