Wednesday, December 13, 2006

[Language :: Grammar] Me and I

Your teacher always told you to say "so and so and I" instead of "me and so and so". This is correct (most of the time) but did they explain why? It is often a point of confusion for most people because while teachers usually remember to teach that, they don't explain the reason for it which leaves people not understanding, which can lead to problems such as using it incorrectly or not at all.

Many people think (and some are even taught!) that it's just more polite to put the other person first but that's NOT the reason. There is a legitimate grammatical reason as follows.

Without going into technical detail about subjects, direct and indirect objects, and the like, there is an easy way to determine whether or not a given sentence is grammatically correct. Just break it down and test it to see if it still works. This is the method used to show the proper usage of "and I".

When do you use "…and I" and when do you use "…and me/me and…"? It's simple, separate the compound and test the sentence with each individually. For example: "Bob and I saw the movie" becomes "Bob saw the movie" and "I saw the movie". Both of those work fine. What about "Me and Bob saw the movie" (or "Bob and me saw the movie")? They become "Bob saw the movie" and "Me saw the movie". Clearly, "Me saw the movie" is incorrect. That's the reason you say "Bob and I". But, you do not always use that form. For example, "You saw Bob and I" is incorrect since breaking it down becomes "You saw Bob" which is fine and "You saw I" which is wrong. The correct sentence would be "You saw Bob and me" or "You saw me and Bob" which gives you "You saw me" which is correct.

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