The Red Pen: “Me” vs. “I”

We Need to Talk About Grammar is a weekly feature in which I complain about grammatical mistakes I encounter all too often. Feel free to commiserate below, and check out the archives here!


Some of you may be thinking that this post was prompted by my frustration at people using “me” when they should be using “I,” as in the example sentence below:

Jane and me went to the fair yesterday.

But you’d be wrong. No matter how much the above bothers me (believe me, it does), it’s even more frustrating when people overcorrect and use “I” when they should actually be using “me.” Compare the two sentences below:

My dad was so proud that he bought ice cream for my sister and me!
My dad was so proud that he bought ice cream for my sister and I!

Which one is correct? I have a hunch that a lot of people would say the latter, but it’s actually the former.

In the examples above, the speaker is the object of the verb phrase bought ice cream for, thus necessitating the use of “me.” Take out “my sister” and you’ll see that using “I” doesn’t make sense:

My dad…bought ice cream for me!
My dad…bought ice cream for I!

See?

Vol. 19 mind blown gif

The best way to remember this is that, when you are the subject of the sentence (that is, the one performing the action), you should use “I.” When you are the object of the sentence (that is, the one the action is being performed on), you should use “me.” To check if you’re using the correct word, you can always do what I did above and remove pieces from the sentence to see if it sounds right. If it doesn’t, make the switch.

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6 thoughts on “The Red Pen: “Me” vs. “I”

  1. THANK YOU! This bothers me to no end. My mother-in-law overcorrects all the time and I hate it. I’ve tried to tell her (nicely, of course), but she insists that she’s correct as do others. Sigh.

    • I’m glad you like them! I’m sure I make plenty myself, but at least I generally capitalize and punctuate correctly. The fact that there are grown adults who can’t (or don’t) just boggles my mind.

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