Confusing Me and I… Ahhh the never ending quandary of a writer

There was a great article on Dictionary.com this week about confusing “I” and “me”

Click over here if you’d like to take a look.   http://hotword.dictionary.com/youandme/

Misuse of these two words is really common.  I hear people do it all the time.  Even in my own house, which I try to keep as grammatically correct as possible.

The words “I” and “me” get my husband and me into a rumble once in a while.  He will correct one of my sons, and then I will correct him, because my son was right.  In our culture in the USA, there is so much “overcorrection” of the word “I” that it is starting to sound right when people use it incorrectly.

Let’s take the first sentence in the previous paragraph.  “The words get my husband and me into a rumble.”  It sounds wrong, doesn’t it?  I actually typed it incorrectly the first time (yeah, I am admitting it) because “I” just sounded right.  I then went back and corrected it.

How can you tell if you are wrong?  Take out the other person, and leave the sentence the same.  Let’s try it.

The words get my husband and me into a rumble

The words get me into a rumble.

The second sounds correct, so we did it right.  In this example, “My husband and me” is correct.  Now, let’s do it incorrectly

The words get my husband and I into a rumble.

The words get I into a rumble.

Oh!  That didn’t work too well, did it?  In this case “My Husband and I” is incorrect.  If you are ever unsure, just take out the second subject and see how it works out.

Need an example when “I” would be correct?  Well, ask and ye shall receive!

George and I should have dinner sometime

I should have dinner sometime

That sounds good.  Okay, how about “Me?”

George and me should have dinner sometime

Me should have dinner sometime.

Oh, Yuck!  That didn’t work at all.  So, in this example, “I” is correct.

The problem is, that “You and I” has been so OVER-CORRECTED, that the word “I” almost always sounds correct.  Even to me.  In the first example, I really wanted to write “My husband and I.”

This is a case of English being an evolving language.  As a writer, you need to make a choice to follow the natural progression of language, or to adhere to “correctness”.

Honestly, between us… your reader probably won’t even notice.

The questions is— which camp your editor/publisher is in?

Ahhh… the quandaries of a writer.

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20 responses to “Confusing Me and I… Ahhh the never ending quandary of a writer

  1. Thanks Jennifer. Me always seemed confused on this one!

  2. Fantastic – love the example on how to figure it all out. Perfect!

  3. This is great! Easy to remember, and so useful. Thanks. 🙂

  4. This rule would always give my advanced grammar students fits. (Maybe that’s why they were in that class??)

  5. Thanks for the great post. Turns out I needed a brush-up!
    *hanging my head*

  6. SO. Slipping into days of yore speak with “me thinks this article doth rock” won’t get past an editor?

    RATS!

  7. That was a great tip. So simple and effective. Now I know when to either one. Thank you.

  8. I use the same trick to make sure it’s right. It’s easier to edit our writing, of course, than our speaking! But most, if not all, my characters do use the right forms when they speak. Ha—people will think they’ve got it wrong and are therefore “more realistic!”

    Can you please do such good examples in another post for lay and lie? That one is my pet peeve! 🙂

  9. Me should stop reading Saturday posts and get back to my edit 🙂 I and me are signing off now.

  10. I use this trick all the time! Have ever since I taught English. Still, describing it to people ends up confusing them. I must show them your post – it’s clear, concise, and has actual written examples. Thanks!

  11. writerwendyreid

    Thanks for the great tip Jennifer! It doesn’t happen to me often, but once in awhile I’m unsure of which one to use. This is a great way to know for sure. 🙂

  12. I think whether or not your reader notices an error, an author should always try to get it right. I also want to present a professional manuscript, hoping it will be taken more seriously.

    You point out an easy way to know if you should use ‘me’ or ‘I’, on that I’m going to test my writing for. Thanks again for the interesting and useful tip.

  13. Oh, and don’t even get me started on “myself”.

  14. I learned this ages ago and is one of my pet peeves to hear it or read incorrectly. I can pick it out like a red toothpick in a sea of yellow ones. It has the same fingernails-across-a-chalkboard effect that “Where’s it at” has. *shudder* Ewwww. Great lesson, though, and a great way to get people to remember which one to use. Not quite as confusing as past and passed. Now that one still gets me, even though I know the rules. (maybe I should go back and read my own post on that one) 🙂

  15. That is a much simpler mental check than the one I’ve also used. I’ve gone with the stuffy-and-traditional “me is used when you can substitute him/her into the sentence”.