Thursday, August 24, 2006

I vs. ME


I will be honest, I tend to be snobby about my tendency to use proper grammar. I am not perfect, by any means, but I tend to try to be careful what I say or do. That doesn't mean all the time, and it doesn't mean when I think I am right, that I really am. But there are some things that bother me intensely. Today I am going to discuss the difference between ME and I.

I am a substitute teacher, and tend to work in mostly LD classes, so I have a tendency to avoid using “indirect, direct, reflexive” terminology. If you are an English teacher, feel free to correct me on any of this, but my goal is just to get people to realize when to use which word.

Both are pronouns, and they both mean the same thing, but that does not mean that they can be used interchangeably. The problems arise when people are using the "____and I" versus "_____and me" phrase.

I is what I will choose to call an Active pronoun. You use it when “I” (the subject) is doing something.
ME is more passive, when something is done to ME, with ME. (versus when I am doing something with someone else)

If you do not know when to use it, take out the "_____ and" part. You would never say "ME am going to the store" so why would you say "John and me are going to the store"? You would never say, "Give it to I" so why would you say "Give it to John and I"?

Which sounds better?
John and me went to the store with Sarah.
John and I went to the store with Sarah.

Hopefully you would never say, “Me went to the store with Sarah.” So the answer is the second one, John and I went to the store with Sarah.

She came with John and me.
She came with John and I.

If it were just you alone, without John, would you say “She came with me” or “She came with I”?
So again, the answer is the one that sounds better without the other person. She came with John and me.
(okay, I prefer “me and john” but I am not gonna get into that today)

So, do not assume, please, please, please, that “John and I” is appropriate in all situations. THINK before you speak or write.

According to
ME: Function: pronoun, objective case

Me is used in many constructions where strict grammarians prescribe I. This usage is not so much ungrammatical as indicative of the shrinking range of the nominative form: me began to replace I sometime around the 16th century largely because of the pressure of word order. I is now chiefly used as the subject of an immediately following verb. Me occurs in every other position: absolutely (who, me?), emphatically (me too), and after prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs, including be (come with me) (you're as big as me) (it's me). Almost all usage books recognize the legitimacy of me in these positions, especially in speech; some recommend I in formal and especially written contexts after be and after as and than when the first term of the comparison is the subject of a verb.