Grammar rant: I vs Me

by Jim Morgan

from http://jimmorgan.us

Grammar Rant: I vs Me

I realize that I am incredibly lazy when it comes to matters grammatical. One can probably find hundreds of grammatical errors in this blog and we won’t even try to guess the number of spelling errors here. I try not to be lazy, but, the pace at which my life flows these days doesn’t always lend itself easily to grammatical correctness. Most grammar faux pas, at least the ones I encounter, are generally the result of people in a hurry and meanings are not generally obfuscated by using lie instead of lay.

One grammar sin that is spreading like a cancer in all the English speaking world except for the UK is the misuse of I and me. This cancer is not limited to the lower classes. In fact the misuse of these words transcends all classes. Supposedly educated pundits and newscasters on TV misuse these words every single day. Doctors, educators (who should know better,) writers all misuse them. Misuse of these words is an offense to the ear if not the mind of the listener. In short using these words improperly makes one sound like an inbred hillbilly.

The problem is that this grammatical disease is spreading so that everyone sounds like a hick.

Let me see if I cam simplify this enough so that college educated people can understand it.

I is the first person singular nominative pronoun. Don’t let all those big words scare you. All that it means is that I is the noun we use when we are doing something. For example, I went to the park. You would never say Me went to the park.

Me is the first person singular objective pronoun. Those big words mean that this pronoun is the one that is acted on. For example, The ball hit me. You would not say, The ball hit I.

The problem with these pronouns seems to stem from the use of them with other pronouns. You and I went to the park is a proper sentence and so is The ball hit you and me. In proper English the ball will never hit “you and I.”

So mushing all of our example sentences together we come up with the very proper You and I went to the park where the ball hit you and me.

If it confuses you which pronoun to use just eliminate the other pronoun and see how it sounds. You and I went to the park where the ball hit I hopefully sounds incorrect to you so you know that we need to change the pronoun to “me.”

I am not sure what has happened in the English language and why we need to say “you and I” instead of “we” and “you and me” instead of “us.” I think too many people are trying to be to fancy in their speaking.

The rules for I and me don’t change if one is using a name instead of a pronoun. “Terry and I went to the park where the ball hit Terry and me” is a proper, though not totally eloquent, sentence. A better sentence in this case would be “Terry and I went to the park where the ball hit us.”

Anyway I am rambling so this rant has lost it’s effectiveness.

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