My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘Me’)?

As I told you in class, this is a wonderful book because it covers many aspects of the English grammar.  Here you are, for example, the answer to the title of this post.

1- The English rule is to use ‘I’ for the subject of a sentence (that means the person who does the action) and ‘Me’ for the object of the sentence (that means the person the verb is acting upon).  Thus, it is not correct to say ‘Me met Mary’ but ‘I met Mary’ or ‘Peter saw I‘ but ‘Peter saw me’

This rule is exactly the same in compound subjects or compound objects, that is, a subject or an object that consists of more than one noun or pronoun. So, ‘Peter and I went to the cinema’ is correct, because Peter and I are the subject, the ones performing the action. And ‘Martha has invited my husband and me for dinner’ is correct, as my husband and me are the object, the persons receiving the action of the verb, the invitation.

2- And what happens with the verb ‘to be’? What would you say here: ‘It is I’ or ‘It is me’? ‘It wasn’t I who said it’ or ‘It wasn’t me who said it’?

Traditionally, the first option should be the correct one, because following the Latin rules, the complement found after the verb ‘to be’ has a subject function. However, nowadays the second option is becoming acceptable and the first option is becoming old-fashioned.

In comparatives, these structures are accepted: ‘He isn’t as fast as me (or I)’ and ‘He isn’t as fast as I am’

3- Remember that after prepositions, the rule is always to use an object pronoun, thus: ‘between you and me’ (not I) or ‘she never meant anything to me’ (not to I).

4- The book also highlights the fact that these rules do not apply to songwriters. So, don’t try to learn grammar from lyrics, as you will commonly find expressions like: ‘Me and Mrs Jones, we’ve got a thing going on…’

(explanations adapted from ‘My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘Me’?)’ by Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines)

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6 responses to “My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘Me’)?

  1. Nice. Can I join the cooking competition too? 🙂

    I’m actually an English prof at George Brown College in Toronto, as well as having a long and ignoble background in editing. I just completed a piece Grammar Help which uses he and him to help people intuitively understand subjects and objects. Your post showed up underneath it as a “Possibly Related” post. I’d say in this case, it was.

    Love to hear how the cooking competition comes off.

  2. Oops. I just noticed the date. I guess the cooking competition’s all over by now. Either that, or it’s a very, very long competition.

    • Oops, sorry. I should have updated it 😛
      I am going to change that immediately. I am working in a school for adults and there is a cooking competition every Christmas. I’d better change that before the next cooking competition comes!
      By the way… You’re a bit far but you can join us next time… Why not! 😉

  3. Thank you, very nice explanation indeed. But -at least to me that still seems unclear- which one of I and Me do you have to use in a fragment, such as the title if this very book. Because we do not know the actual function of I/me, can we use both?!
    I know, this post is decades old, but I’d really appreciate if someone could explain that to me (: Thank you

    • notdoubledutch

      Dear friend, according to the explanations, the title of the book should be “My grammar and I” because they are the subject of the sentence.
      Use ‘I, he, she, we, they’ when they are the subject of a sentence (the ones that perform the action of the verb) Example: “My sister and I loved the film”/ “He and she (they) knew the answer”
      Use the object pronouns ‘me, him, her, us, them’ after verbs and prepositions (they are the ones that receive the action of the verb). Example “That was a present for my sister and me”/ “He broke up with me”/ “I don’t like them”/ “He wrote a song for her”…
      Can you see the difference between subject and object pronouns in the sentences above? I/Me work as the rest of the pronouns.
      I hope it’s clearer now 🙂

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