Monday, March 9, 2015

Me, Myself & I

It can be confusing to know whether to use "I" or "me" in a sentence. Hopefully the following will help to clear up the situation:

Deciding whether to use "I" or "me" is based on whether you are using a subject pronoun ("I") or indirect object pronoun ("me.") The subject pronoun is the pronoun standing in for the person performing the action and the indirect object pronoun is the object or person receiving the action. For example, I could write, "George kicks the ball to Clara." "George" is the subject of the sentence and could be replaced by the subject pronoun, "he." Who receives the action? Clara. In this case, the receiver, Clara, can be replaced by the indirect object pronoun, "her." Therefore, the sentence can be rewritten, "He kicks the ball to her." ("Ball" is the direct object pronoun.)

You will need a subject pronoun ("I") if the "I" is the subject performing the action. (Click through for a complete list of subject pronouns.)

For example, you might want to write, "Diane and I are buying tickets for the show." In this case, "I" is the subject pronoun performing the action (buying the tickets with Diane.) The sentence works if you change the subject to "we," another subject pronoun. Ask yourself who is doing the action and the answer is "Diane and I!" ("Me" cannot be the subject pronoun and therefore not correct. If you were to write this sentence using only the first person singular, "I" instead of the plural, "Diane and I," you'd write, "I am buying the tickets for the show," not, "Me...")

If the sentence changes to, "Diane is buying tickets for me," then "me" becomes the indirect object pronoun. (Click through for more on indirect object pronouns.) You can ask yourself, "for whom"? and the answer is, "For me!" Or, "Who is doing it?" "Diane!" In this case, the direct object pronoun is "tickets" (that is to say, what is being bought.) Whenever the issue is a direct or indirect object pronoun, then the answer is "me" (if it is first person.)

For more, here is Grammar Girl's explanation of when to use "I" or "me."

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