Using I or Me in a Sentence

i.jpgOne of the grammar issues many people struggle with is the question of whether to use “I” or “me” in a sentence. And should you mix it up now and then by using “myself” instead of “I” or “me”?

Consult a grammar book and it will tell you that you should use “I” when the word you are using is the subject of the sentence and you should use “me” when the word is the object of the sentence. Well, that clears that up. If you learned to diagram sentences in school, that may answer the question for you. However, that answer does not help if you do not know the difference between a subject or object, or just do not want to translate that way. There is an easier way to know when to use “I” and when to use “me.”

Most of us are fine when we are the only ones in the sentence. By that, I mean that we generally do not get confused about which of the following is correct:

“I went shopping today.”
“Me went shopping today.”

The problem comes when someone else horns their way in:

“Suzie and I went shopping today.”
“Suzie and me went shopping today.”

So which is correct? Go back to the first example. If, “I went shopping today,” is correct then, “Suzie and I went shopping today,” is also correct.

A simple way to determine if you should use “I” or “me” is to take the other person out of the sentence.

How about this one:

“Suzie smiled at Tom and me.”
“Suzie smiled at Tom and I.”

A lot of people would choose the second sentence, because they are afraid of sounding stupid by using “me.” However, when you take Tom out of the sentence, you would say, “Suzie smiled at me.” Right? That means that, “Suzie smiled at Tom and me,” is correct.

So maybe we could just avoid the whole problem by using “myself” instead of “I” or “me.” Well, no. “Suzie and myself went shopping today,” is just plain wrong. As is, “Suzie smiled at Tom and myself.”

Now, let’s get a little trickier. Which of the following is correct:

“Jack wants money more than me.”
“Jack wants money more than I.”

In this case, either could be correct, depending on your meaning. Expand the sentence to determine which is the correct usage. The first sentence means:

“Jack wants money more than he wants me.”

The second sentence means:

“Jack wants money more than I do.”

If adding a word such as “am” or “do” completes the sentence, than “I” is the correct choice. For example: “Pamela is taller than I.” Feel a little pretentious ending a sentence with “I”? You may add “am” or “do”: “Pamela is taller than I am.” However, the “am” is unnecessary.

You might use “myself” for emphasis, or when you have already used “I”, such as, “I cleaned the house myself,” or “I drove myself to the hospital.” In general, do not use “myself” immediately after “I,” such as, “I myself believe we should go to dinner.” It’s not needed.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the tip. I know that you’re probably pretty busy and was wondering if you were looking for contributors to this blog. I’d love to give my tips.

  2. Cathy Stucker says:

    I have not published guest articles, but I am willing to consider submissions. Posts can be emailed to me at cathy (at) idealady (dot) com.

    Thanks for your interest!

  3. What is correct: Best buddy and me!! or Best buddy and I!!!

    • Cathy Stucker says:

      @Dan, that is a trick question! ;o) The answer is that it depends on the context.

      “My best buddy and I went to the mall,” would be correct. (Remove “My best buddy and,” and you would say, “I went to the mall,” not “Me went to the mall.”)

      But it would not be correct to say, “Dan bought drinks for my best buddy and I.” That should be, “Dan bought drinks for my best buddy and me.” Again, when you remove “my best buddy and” the answer becomes clearer.

  4. Thanks for the help. My teacher told me the same tip to cover up part of the sentence. Maybe a quiz might help others (me) a little more.

  5. My teacher said to cover up th other persons name.

  6. That was so very helpful. Thank you!

  7. Thank you! Now I see how your book can help me most. Hopefully I can write faster and correctly.

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