Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Rare Visit from the Grammar Police--Just "You and I"

I know at some point in your life a teacher or parent drilled the use of "I" into your head.
It probably went something like this:

"Hey, mom.  Me and Tommy are going to the park."
"That's Tommy and I are going to the park."
"You mean you and Tommy are going to park?'

Okay, maybe not quite like that, but you learned you were supposed to use "I" and it was to come after the other person. 

Now, I'm climbing my little soap box.

It's not always so.

If it's the subject of the sentence, then the nominative case pronoun should definitely be placed last after a list of nouns or pronouns.  In other words, yes, when it comes at the beginning of the sentence, please use the word "I" second.

BUT, then even the most well-meaning English speaker sometimes, okay frequently, carry it too far.  They start slipping that "I" where a "me" needs to be.  When it's in a prepositional phrase, then it's the objective case pronoun you need.  Instead of, "They took it from Sam and I," it should be "The took it from Sam and me."  

Here's a general, very simplistic, guide.  If it's at the beginning of a sentence, use "I.'  If it's somewhere else in the sentence, use "me."

Okay, I will now step down from my soap. 


Lisa said...

This has been bugging me for a while... Facebook photos captioned as "John and I" or "My wife and I", etc. Would the correct form instead be "John and me", as in, "This is a photo of John and me"?

Betsy Price said...

Well, I would say it depends. If you were thinking that sentence when you wrote it, then, yes, it would be "John and me." If you were thinking,
"This is my wife and I" it would be "I" because it's a predicate nominative. That's, of course, one exception to my "general, very simplistic, guide. If it's at the beginning of a sentence, use "I.' If it's somewhere else in the sentence, use "me."

So, when all is said an done, I think when labeling a picture, it could go either way!

How's that for nailing Jello to a wall!

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