When To Use "I" or "Me" - Put the Right Word In
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.
Are You Sick In the Head? Do You Enjoy Grammar?
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.
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:
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.
Me or I?
© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun
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