Use of “I” and “Me”

Ah, the famous personal pronouns. Although these pronouns are undoubtedly all-purpose words that fit any spoken, written, or translated context, they are—sadly—misused.

I will admit I don’t regularly watch television or movies, but I will admit that I am often irritated when I hear actors or ordinary people—like you and me—incorrectly using I and me. Here are some classic examples:

Me and Leticia used to hang out every day after school.

The relationship between my father and I is good.

Jane spent Sunday afternoon with Sam, Mary, and I.

Dr. Phil recently discussed the topic of dementia and seniors. When a woman was asked to talk to the audience about her mother’s driving while suffering from dementia, she asked this question to Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, representative of Pfizer: “How do I keep my relationship between my mother and I going despite her stubbornness to continue driving?”

Here at home, here’s a tweet I read with regards to the late Knowlton Nash, a long-time correspondent and news anchor at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC):

“Watching Knowlton Nash on ‘The National’ brought my dad and I together every night when I was a kid.”

Do you see anything wrong with the above sentences?

You guessed it: each sentence incorrectly uses I and me. It’s important to make the difference between the subject and object pronoun. I is a subject pronoun. Use this pronoun with we, he, she, you, and they when the pronoun is the subject of a verb. In the example Me and Leticia used to hang out every day after school, Leticia and the first person singular pronoun are subjects; therefore, the sentence should read: Leticia and I (=we) used to hang out every day after school. Never put yourself first in this context!

In the other four examples, the use of I is incorrect because it is being used to replace me, an object pronoun. Me is to be used with us, him, her, you, and them when the pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition. Consequently, the last few sentences should respectively read:

The relationship between my father and me (=us) is good.

“How do I keep my relationship between my mother and me going…?”

“Watching Knowlton Nash on ‘The National’ brought my dad and me together…”

Jane spent Sunday afternoon with Sam, Mary, and me.

Now that the distinction is made between I and me, let’s strive to use these pronouns correctly in our everyday speaking and writing. Actors and company, are you listening?

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2 comments

  1. Nancy A. Locke · · Reply

    The song “Me and Liza” by Rufus Wainwright is a fun illustration, too! Me and Liza, Liza and I, happy that we’re now such good friends … ” 🙂

    1. I’ll need to listen to this song on YouTube. Thanks for the amusing anecdote! 🙂

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