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When To Use "I" or "Me" - Put the Right Word In

Updated on May 17, 2016
Maybe Jimmy should do the talking.
Maybe Jimmy should do the talking. | Source

The Jimmy

When Do You use “I” or “Me”?

When do you use these pronouns? They are such little words, yet they are often misunderstood.

"I" and "me" are called personal pronouns. That is a drab term to say that instead of using peoples’ names all the time, we can use other words – often smaller – in place of names.

Where would we be without these pronouns?

If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you may recall the episode with "The Jimmy". Jimmy never uses first-person pronouns. He always refers to himself using his name or the third person. “Jimmy loves his high-jump training shoes.” He doesn’t actually use personal pronouns like “I” or “he.”

What if we lived in a world without personal pronouns? If every time Jimmy said his name, and then substituted the word “I,” he’d actually be using it all the time.

But, in a world where we actually want to use “I” or “me,” when do we use these tiny pronouns that cause so much angst?

"I" goes before the verb

The word “I” always goes before the verb. (I say always, but let’s pretend I’m always right. I’ll talk about exceptions below.) This is what’s called nominative case. But Cyndi (that’s me) won’t bore you with such grammatical designations. Just remember: before the verb – no matter how many people, nouns, and places you have going on before the verb in a statement.

I want to be a millionaire.

Jimmy and I want to be millionaires.

The people, Jimmy and I want to be millionaires.

"Me" Goes After the Verb

The word “me” always goes after the verb, regardless if it’s one or ten people in the statement.

Jimmy won’t talk to me.

Jimmy won’t talk to Kramer or me.

Jimmy won’t talk to Kramer, Elaine, Jerry or me.

The fact that “me” always goes after the verb is called objective case. No matter – just remember that “me” goes after the verb.

It's a good thing we say, "I Love You" and not "Me Love You."
It's a good thing we say, "I Love You" and not "Me Love You." | Source

Now For the Headaches

Now for the headaches. I feel a migraine coming on. Oh no! Somebody get me some vinegar!

Now...what was I talking about?

English always has headaches – exceptions to the rules. Granted, these aren’t really exceptions, per se, but our speech has changed enough that these grammatical anomalies are becoming more accepted.

Have you ever answered the phone, and the caller asks for you? Yes – all of us have had this mundane experience.

But how did you respond? Did you say, “this is he” or did you say “this is him.”

Which is correct?

If you guessed “this is he,” then you are correct. BUT, and it is a BIG but, “this is him” is acceptable, too.

What? How can both be acceptable?

Well, after a linking verb (such as is or was), you’re technically supposed to use nominative case.

It is I.

This is she.

It was he.

It was they that called. (Even as I write this statement, my grammar checker on my computer HATES this usage of “they”.)

What? I never hear that! Only stodgy, grumpy old men would bother using such formalities.

Exactly.

The examples above are utterly formal. You might see these sorts of statements in extremely formal writing. Modern speech doesn’t really like using such sanctimonious, ceremonial statements. Who does? It’s not like we spend all our time at dinner parties with velvet dresses and seven forks to choose from, right?

So, our writing is affected, too.

We generally say the following:

It’s me.

This is her.

It was him.

It was them that called.

The linking verb can go unhinge itself and have a nice day. It’s more and more acceptable to answer the phone and say, “this is her.”

Try this statement out:

Should this be “just between you and me” or “just between you and I”?

Well, where’s the verb? Hmmm…our lazy, colloquial speech has become a bit slack in its verbiage.

That is, we have dropped off the verb. That’s right, we dropped it off at some party and we forgot where the party is.

The real sentence would read like, “This is just between you and me.”

Now, I ask you, where’s the verb? Remember, from earlier, “me” always comes after the verb.

Now, try the quiz and see if you are allowed to use personal pronouns, or if you’re just going to have to talk like Jimmy.

© 2012 Cynthia Sageleaf

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    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Tillsontitan - YAHOO! You got it! I'm with you on the math quiz part. I'm doomed there. :P Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

      Suzie HQ - hehe, a little humorous grammar to take the pain away. Hehe. Thank you for your feedback. Have a wonderful weekend! Cheers!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Great hub and lesson! Grammar always good to do brush up on, me thinks! Loved your humour and easy writing style that flows, good job!

      Votes +++++ and sharing :-)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      100%...guess I still got it ;) Now if that was a math quiz I could be in trouble.

      Great refresher and good information for many hubbers from foreign lands where English is still a puzzle.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Kelley - I would NOT underestimate your incredible writing skills. You're phenomenal! Thank you so much for the votes and I'm glad you enjoyed this. :)

      Wannabewestern - Jimmy says HI! Hehe. Jimmy in the third-person makes me crazy. LOL. Thank you for stopping by!

      Vicki - aw, thank you for stopping by again. You are so sweet. I appreciate you. :D

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I think I've read this before, but it was worth dropping by again. I love your sense of humor in explaining grammar, CC!

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 5 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      This was a great refresher and such a well-written, well-designed hub. Jimmy and I loved it!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      I love this hub because I need to brush up on my grammar, or lack thereof, skills. I bombed the quiz :). Sharing and voting up and useful!!!! Kelley

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      SeekingMJ - I love The Jimmy. :) Thank you for your comments and insights. Eh, I have to review my hubs sometimes when I'm writing because it is hard to remember every little thing. Hehe. (HUGS)

    • SeekingMJ profile image

      SeekingMJ 5 years ago from Bryan, Texas

      First off, thanks for sharing the video. I had forgotten about The Jimmy!

      Great hub. I have a lot to learn about proper grammar. Most the time when I use I, it should be me. Oh well. :)

      I will be reading this one again.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Dina - that's awesome! English is confusing enough for native speakers, let alone non-native speakers. Wow! Thanks for stopping by! :)

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image

      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      Great hub Cyndi, well written and I liked the quiz, I got 80% (English is not my native language), so I'm pleased with results :)

      Voted up, useful, interesting, funny.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      tsmog - your reference to George Herbert is great. I'm going to have to learn more about symbolic interactionism. :) Perhaps that's even a hub idea. No worries about that quiz - nothing a little brushing up won't fix. Ha!

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

      OK,cclitgirl, I took the quiz and now will read the hub. just above 50/50 I see a tune-up is needed. Throwing a curve ball here, my biggest interest with I and Me is the work of George Herbert Mead within symbolic interactionism. Maybe that skewed my answers. Well, I'm off to learn or relearn, not sure which just yet :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Rolly - aw, thanks for stopping by. :) I'm glad you liked this.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Great resource... thank you...

      Hugs

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Vellur - Thanks for your feedback. I'm really glad you found this useful.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Very useful and easy to understand. Voted up.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      thoughtforce - thanks for your kind words. The quiz - I put a couple really tricky questions in there. :) Thanks for the kudos. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      PDX - Eh, I was a Spanish major and spent I don't know how many hours learning the mechanics of English so that I could understand Spanish. Do English majors have grammar classes? If not, then no worries. You've got some grammar hubs to help you. :D

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      This is a great hub about grammar and a fantastic lesson! I liked the quiz, it was fun even though I didn't got 100%! Bookmarked, up, useful

      Tina

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      boy, for an English major and a grammar nazi, i sure didn't do well. I'll be linking this with my hub "I want to read your hub"

      https://hubpages.com/community/I-Want-to-read-Your...

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      rajan jolly - I'm happy you liked your grammar lesson. I'll be giving a quiz later. :)

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      cclitgirl, this is interesting. It's ages since I had a lesson in grammar.

      Thanks, I liked this lesson.

      Voted up.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      leeba - I'm glad you found this interesting. I appreciate your coming by and commenting. "Me" is happy. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      tammy - well hello there. Me always loves to see you. :) Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed this.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      ytsenoh - that quiz was fun, no? I stealthily designed it for trickiness. :) Haha. Thank you for stopping by! :)

    • leeba ann varghes profile image

      Leeba Ann Varghese 5 years ago from India

      Interesting..and i enjoyed the quiz well........thanks for that great work

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Me likes this hub very much. Me will bookmark it for I to use later. Thanks. Some of us really need the help. Well done.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      The quiz was definitely the bonus--good job on that. Very tricky behavior of those two words. Thanks for reminding us the proper usage.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Now, Sunshine, I assumed you were doing that on purpose. :D

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Ugh I used the wrong word! I meant to say "which makes I happy" :))

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Me likes your score. Me loves Sunshine! Hehe. I'm so glad you stopped by. It's always nice to get a Ray of Sunshine headed my way! :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Cloverleaf - nice! My English teacher did the same to me. Then, when I learned Spanish, it was drilled further...with reinforcements. :D

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thank you for the brain exercise Cyndi! I needed it! Me got a 80%, when makes I happy :))

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Woo-hoo! I got 100% in your quiz. I remember back at school that this was a subject drummed into me by my English teacher. I would have been very disappointed if I had gotten any wrong! Thanks for the refresher, Cyndi :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Ruchira - ah, no worries. I'm sure you use "I" or "me" correctly every time. :D

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      Cindi....loved it.

      i thought I had my basics cleared but scored only 80% :(

      good one!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      savanahl - I really try to make mundane things seem fun, lol. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such kind comments. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      I'm glad you found this interesting ap100. :) Now if my students can, too, I'll be good. Thanks for stopping by!

    • savanahl profile image

      savanahl 5 years ago

      Great hub. If only English class would have been this fun. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.

    • ap100 profile image

      ap100 5 years ago from India

      Interesting one.. Surely little confusing but you explained it well.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      sen.sush23 - hey there! It's always great to see you! Aw, shucks, thanks for the compliments and votes. I only know grammar so well because I often have to teach it to my students before I can teach them any Spanish. :) Haha. In any case, thank you so much for stopping by!

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 5 years ago from Kolkata, India

      cclitgirl, I don't know what to say. How do you explain these intricate grammatical tricks so easily? Wow! I don't understand grammar, but I know my grammar a little. I think you are such a jolly grammar teacher. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Alecia - thanks for reading and commenting. :) Your response is sound - grammatically and otherwise. :D Haha! It's always great to see you.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      teaches12345 - I'm so glad you found this useful. :) Yes, I regularly watch Seinfeld re-runs, I admit it.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is very useful. For the most part I goot most of the quiz right. But in general I try to use action verbs to help clarify which goes where. I hope that was a grammatically sound response!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks for the review on the use of I and me. Your instructions were easy to follow. Your quiz is a great follow-up to the hub learnings (even though I scored 80 -- guess I need to go back and read.). Love your referral of Seinfield's episode on Jimmy. It was an amusing show especially when George started to pick up the habit. Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      alocsin - me is glad you don't have a problem. :D Thanks for stopping by!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      UnnamedHarald - I'm glad you took a peek and that you aced the quiz. I'm thrilled you found this humorous. :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Well, this is something that me never have a problem with. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      An article about grammar? Oh, well, I'll take a peek. Hey this isn't bad. This is good. What?! A quiz? Jeez. Okay, I'll do it. Ha. Aced it. Feelin' good. Voted up, interesting and funny.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, Jacy, you crack me up, as always. :D I love that they're helpful to you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to delve into the realm of religion and philosophy and go find your hubs. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, billy, I would *never* want to embarrass you! :) I'm really glad you thought this was fun. I had this hub in the works for about five days, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to make it funny. Whew! I passed the test. ;)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      kingmaxler - ha! I'm so glad you liked this. :)

    • albertsj profile image

      jacy albertson 5 years ago from Lake Mary, Fl

      Well, this should be obvious, but, of course, it isn't. I'm printitng out again, & making a book out of your your grammatical hubs

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I refuse to take your poll and be embarrassed this early on a Sunday morning. I'll take it later after I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Great hub as always and fun as an added bonus. Good job my friend!

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      kingmaxler 5 years ago from Olympia, Washington USA

      great fun. loved the quiz at the end.