Grammar tips: Is it I or me?

Is it I or me? Do you think "I" sounds refined while "me" sounds common or uneducated? These grammar tips will help you use each one correctly!

Is it or me? As children, we were so often corrected for misusing me that many of us think I is always right while me has become the evil impostor.

When we would say, “Me and Rebecca are going to the store,” it’s likely that someone drilled into our young heads: Rebecca and I. Rebecca and I. Rebecca and I.

Which Is It: I or Me?

We’ve been led to believe that me sounds common or uneducated, so we overcorrect by saying: Can Sean go to the ballgame with Mark and I? Join Dad and I for breakfast tomorrow. This gift is from you and I.

But contrary to popular belief, I isn’t always refined, educated, OR correct. 

Both I and me can be right—or wrong—depending on how you use them.

INCORRECT: Do you want to play Monopoly with Vern and I?

INCORRECT: Hortense and me are making dinner tonight.

CORRECT: Do you want to play Monopoly with Vern and me?

CORRECT: Hortense and I are making dinner tonight.

The Basic Rules

  • I and me are pronouns.
  • I is always the subject. (EX: I visited; Grandma and I shopped; Hoss and I wrestled)
  • Me is always the object, never the subject. (EX: with me; to Josie and me; for Uncle Elmer and me)

This is also true for they/them, he/him, she/her, and we/us.

Quick Tricks

You and your children will enjoy learning a few simple tricks to make sense of these rules. Here are some samples and quick I/me tests:

Example: Jonah and me are going to the park.
Test: Remove Jonah from the sentence. Which sounds correct?

Me is/are going.
I am/are going.

You wouldn’t say “Me is going to the park.” You’d say, “I am going to the park.” So “Jonah and I” would be correct.

Example: The pies smelled so good that me and Lauren both bought one.
Test: Remove Lauren from the sentence. Which sounds correct now?

Me bought one.
I bought one.

Example: You were so kind to John and I.
Test: Leave John out. Now which sounds correct?

You were so kind to I.
You were so kind to me.

Example: Just between you and I . . .
Test: Replace I/me (subjects) with we/us (objects).

Just between we . . . (Nope!)
Just between us . . . (Yes!)

So “between you and me” is correct. Pretty easy once you know the tricks!

As you can see, I isn’t always sophisticated and suave, and me isn’t always unrefined and coarse. Each one plays a role. The trick is to learn what that role is!

Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

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Photo: Donnie Ray Jones, courtesy of Creative Commons
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