Works For Me: I vs. Me

WfmwsmallYesterday I wrote about containerizing Pop Tarts, and today I’m writing about proper grammar.  I’m not sure when I became the scary, nerdy librarian of the blogosphere, but evidently I have passed the point of no return.

Y’all know how I love good grammar, and there’s a simple tip to avoid a common grammar pratfall (I have to use this one all the time). 

When you’re writing or speaking about yourself and another person, it’s easy to mix up the personal pronouns.  For example, "Janie and I" or "Janie and me".  Which one do you use?

Just take out the "Janie and", leaving you with only the personal pronoun.  The one that sounds the most natural is almost always the right one.  Here’s an example:

Janie and me found a great bargain yesterday.

Take out "Janie and".  You’re left with "me found a great bargain yesterday."  Unless you are a caveman (with impressive shopping skills), you know that sounds awkward.  So it should read

Janie and I found a great bargain yesterday.

Let’s move it to the end of the sentence:

That fabulous sale was meant for Janie and I.

Again, take out "Janie and."   Would you say "That fabulous sale was meant for I"?  Of course not.  So the sentence should read

That fabulous sale was meant for Janie and me.

It’s a quick little short-cut that works for me, all the time.  And it probably already works for many of you as well (really, I do not mean to insult the intelligence of my fellow grammar lovers–I know there are many of you, and I adore you to the very core of my conjunctive participle). 

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102 thoughts on “Works For Me: I vs. Me

  1. Teble says:

    Shannon, I just taught my seven year old that trick last weekend. I’m kind of a grammar nerd myself and I’m doing my part to raise the next generation of geeks.

  2. Karen @ Simply A Musing Blog says:

    Loved the pop tarts in the bin, personally. It’s totally something I would do. πŸ™‚
    Me wish me would have known that handy grammar rule earlier this year when me was trying to teach the proper use for Katie and I. πŸ™‚

  3. Ornery's Wife says:

    That particular tip is one I knew, but could you tell me when to use affect and when to use effect? Or, lay and lie? I am so confused about those! I appreciate reading proper grammar, but sometimes I am in such a hurry that I forget the rule, and am too lazy or rushed to look it up.
    Thanks for hosting this each week. I learn a lot of things, and it keeps me on my toes thinking of things to write about!

  4. Dawn says:

    Good trick! I will have to remember that one. I know another that helps me. The difference between there and their. Most people probably have the difference memorized now, but when I was in school I mixed them up. I just remembered that the one with an “i” in it had to do with people, b/c I use the letter “i” to describe a person, namely, myself. It may sound strange, but it worked for me! ;-D

  5. Beth @ The Natural Mommy says:

    Oh. My. Goodness – THANK YOU.
    (Not that I needed this tip.)
    (I actually already wrote a post about this ages ago.)
    (But as I do not have the readership you do, hopefully your message will reach more people.)

  6. Tina in Thailand says:

    The grammar oops that drives me crazy is your/you’re. I see it wrong all the time! Even on billboards, of course in very large print, shouting out that someone did not check their work.

  7. LeeAnn says:

    I just learned this trick last month- after 38 years of confusion over this very question!
    Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us (sometimes) grammatically challenged readers…

  8. Melanie says:

    This has always been a pet peeve of mine. I especially hate it when someone is trying soooo hard to sound proper and then they say something like “The pizza arrived for Bob and I.”

  9. Megan says:

    I wrote it that way CORRECTLY in a story once that got put on the World Mag blog and there were several who left comments on my improper grammar. As if. Now if they had issues with my spelling, I could not complain. This is why I’m married to an editor…

  10. momrn2 says:

    Our family was just talking about this rule last week. Glad to hear you confirmed it as I vaguely remembered the rule to be!! Thanks for your support! πŸ™‚

  11. PollyS says:

    I learned this trick in 7th grade and my life has never been the same. As a matter of fact, my husband and I had a heated discussion about the proper use of “I” just yesterday. And guess what? My 7th grade English teacher won! I wish you could broadcast this message on CNN, FoxNews, Yahoo…anyone that could listen. This is my grammatical pet peeve.

  12. Marian says:

    Thank you for making this official. Because if it’s declared at RIMD, it must be official for all of the English-speaking world. I had it drilled into me — in school!– that “Janie and I” at the end of the sentence was proper. I realized in adulthood that this had to be wrong– by way of the little test you describe here– but use it anyway on occasion in the irrational fear that one of my elementary teachers is going to pop out from somewhere and scold me.
    And then there’s the phrase to use when you answer the phone and someone asks for you. Sometimes I can’t stop myself from repeating the same thing I heard my mother use my whole life – ” This is she.”

  13. Kansas A says:

    I’m slightly passed the age of 40 and I’m just learning this trick now?! I even went back to school and graduated when I was 35ish and have never heard of it! Thanks for the great tip πŸ™‚

  14. Mom2fur says:

    This is a wonderful idea. And you go right on teaching grammar! Some people may think it is petty, but not me–I think the little things add up to make a better life for all of us! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written how much it bugs me when people mix up ‘loose’ and ‘lose’!

  15. tas says:

    I am not a fan of grammer, BUT I have always wondered what was right…..thank you for clearing that up for me.
    Honest….it’s good to know.

  16. Jacquelyn@Because I Said So! says:

    One editor to another: please straighten people out on the “If you’ll just send an e-mail to myself…” AAARRRRAAAGGHHHHH!!!! Politicians, newspeople, celebs, EVERYONE says myself when me is perfectly correct.
    Love WFMW.

  17. Julie says:

    I use that rule too! Similarly, WHOM should be used if you would say HIM; WHO should be used if you would say HE.
    To WHOM are you speaking?
    Are you speaking to HIM?
    WHO is going with you?
    Is HE going with you?

  18. saph says:

    Thanks for the awesome tip! I really have forgotten the rules of grammar. It’s sad, I know. Can you give me a lesson on how to properly use the colon and semi-colon?? I’m serious. LOL =)

  19. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for bringing this to attention! I’m a bit of a grammarian myself and this one drives me bonkers! Thank you! Love your site!

  20. Girlymom says:

    I use the same tip, but it gets confusing because the kids are being told to use Janie and me- when I was in school…(way back when..) we were told to use Janie and I. Thanks for the clear up, I thought maybe I have been doing it wrong all this time.

  21. Liz Budd says:

    I cannot believe all the great posts on WFMW! I’m a newbie to your site, and I look forward to learning (and contributing) a little know-how. I love your posts, too. Thanks for making my very slow Tuesday afternoons have a smile.

  22. Celly B says:

    Oh, as a former English teacher, I love your post today! I am such a grammar geek! I have made my inaugural posting to Works for Me Wednesday, and I hope that somebody finds it helpful or at least interesting.

  23. Cousin DV says:

    Cool! I thought that “I” should ALWAYS be used but I’m glad to know that there is a time and a place for “me”.

  24. Julie says:

    I feel so validated! I use that tip all the time! I taught it to my husband shortly after we met and he was amazed. He said no one had ever said that to him. I think I got it from one of my teachers, but I don’t know which one. Good tip for the masses.

  25. Teddi says:

    Thanks for the good reminder – have used it often and it’s a big pet peeve of mine! Love the pop tart organization of yesterday! I just found your blog and am having lots of fun looking around!

  26. adrianna says:

    Here’s another grammar nerd checking in. English was not my major, but when I was in grammar school (years and years ago) correct usage was drilled into us and required.
    Regarding affect/effect: the first is a verb, the second a noun. E.g. How will this affect your work? Or: What effect will this have on your work?
    I also know how to use lie, lay, lain and lay, laid, laid correctly but there’s not room to go into that here. It’s not difficult to learn. However, I believe that usages are changing and the incorrect may soon be, or already is, considered appropriate. Not that I’m happy with that situation.

  27. Margaret says:

    Argh. I always forget to add what my post is about.
    Prettifying cardboard boxes for storage/organization.

  28. Sandi says:

    I remember learning this tip when I learned the grammar rule in grade school. It always bugs me when people misuse it because it’s SO easy to remember this little tip…I’m glad that you shared it with the blogosphere!

  29. Babychaser says:

    That’s a great tip! I know I have used that same method of making sure to say something correctly! Now if only there were such an easy way to avoid the right word/ wrong spelling situation I find myself in when I’m typing too fast and not paying enough attention! πŸ™‚ DH catches this all the time! Makes me feel a little uneducated. πŸ™‚

  30. pam says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!
    Thank you from the bottom of my “nerdy librarian” heart.
    I am right with you, Shannon, and I am so glad you posted this handy little tutorial on how to use “I” and “me” correctly.
    Now I will go find some lunch after Tony and I work out again together. Thanks again!

  31. Suzof7 says:

    That’s an excellent tip! I do that automatically when I write, and see it written incorrectly all over the place, too.
    Now for lie/lay, accept/except, etc./etc.

  32. Fiddledeedee (It Coulda Been Worse) says:

    I remember this well from English class. Now that I’m actually teaching grammar to my 2nd grader, I’m floored by how much I’ve forgotten. Also, as a homeschooling mom who blogs, I’m very aware that I may be judged on my grammar. Which is really unfortunate, as I tend to butcher the English language on a daily basis. Sigh.
    Learning never does stop. Even at my advanced age. πŸ™‚

  33. Susan says:

    Fellow grammar-lover here . . . that’s one of my favorite tricks to use, but no one believes me! LOL They still insist on using “Janie and I” for every grammar situation! Ack!

  34. lisa (lost pezhead) says:

    Shannon, which WFMW banner is the current one? the clipboard or the blue letters than spell it out?

  35. kelli in the mirror says:

    Me love this trick.
    Next, please address “myself”. I think people, especially on reality tv, have decided that it sounds more highbrow or something, or else they don’t know when to use I/me, so you get weird things like “Janie and myself are going to the sale”.

  36. Ewokgirl says:

    This former English teacher thanks you! It drives me nuts when people use the nominative and objective cases of pronouns incorrectly! If a public speaker uses them wrong, I’ll stew over it for quite a while, then I miss half the speech. Oops.
    And don’t get me started on praise songs. “As the Deer Pants” puts me over the grammatical edge with the incorrect usage of thee and thou. Thankfully, the Lord seems to have worked it out with our music minister so that I’m never up front on the praise team on the rare Sundays that we sing that song.
    My husband thinks I’m insane.

  37. Caroline says:

    First off, I forgot to put what my link was about. Sheesh. Anyways, sick of naked barbies? See me.
    Second, I just discovered you and I’m already in β™₯ (but not in the creepy stalker type way….)

  38. Matt says:

    Thanks, Shannon, for the basic but necessary reminders about our English language as it is used and very much abused in the blogosphere. Now that you’ve addressed grammar, how about tackling spelling next week? You could highlight the difference between their and they’re, for starters, then talk about the use of a dictionary, etc. Or if you’re too busy, I can just post a really long comment! Save our language!

  39. Laane says:

    I do it all the time.
    Last week I had a discussion about it with a teacher, because he didn’t consider it a mistake.
    He said that language is a developing system and we need to accept that it changes over time.

  40. Christy says:

    I use the same trick, my mom taught it to me when young. Then when I taught 5th grade english/grammar, I learned the actual rules of direct objects and subjects.

  41. Ruth says:

    Thank you so much for explaining it that way. And you even sounded NICE as you did it. EVERYBODY “hyper-corrects” and uses “Janie and I” regardless of whether they are dealing with a subject or an object. Thank you for being a hold out for the right way! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your blog is widely read, so it might even do some good!

  42. linda says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! This absolutely drives me nuts when people say this wrong!. It’s as though the pendulum has swung too far the other way; for years no one ever used “I” and now they use it way too often!
    Now could you please announce it to the rest of the country, expecially the journalists?! They are the worst grammarians! LOL

  43. Tara says:

    Our pastor messes that one up all the time! My DH was an English major and I was almost one (except that I didn’t want to teach junior high or high school and what else can you do with an English major???). There is nothing more grating to our ears than to hear our pastor say something like, “Jesus died for sinners like you and I”. I have to brush the hair back down on the back of my husband’s neck!

  44. prasti says:

    chickadee wrote: “this is my biggest grammar peeve…”
    I agree. I confess that I too am a grammar (and spelling) geek. I learned the I vs. Me tip in h.s. and it has come in handy ever since! Thank you!

  45. Maureen McNulty says:

    I’m in for the contest giveaway. I would love to win and am not picky which one. By the way, I LOVE the name of your company. Thanks!

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