Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tip - Me? Or is it I?

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Today's writing tip is a quick lesson in whether to use I or me when talking about you in conjunction with someone else. For example: My husband and I went to Ruth's Chris for dinner. Is it "My husband and I...?" Or "My husband and me...?" We'll get to the answer in a minute.

I was just reading picture captions on one of my author friend's Facebook page, and it's clear she didn't understand when to use I and when to use me. This made me realize that a lot of people have this problem and that it would make a great writing tip. My friend's captions read as follows (these are not exact captions):

The hubby and I at the ice cream shop.

Janie and I at the convention.

My sister and I at graduation.

In all those examples, the proper choice is me, not I. The hubby and me at the ice cream shop. Janie and me at the convention. My sister and me at graduation.

You might be asking, "How do you know that?"

When I was a kid, my dad pounded certain rules of grammar into my head, and one was the rule of me vs. I. What he taught me to help me remember which to use is that to determine the proper self-reference, ask yourself, if it was just you, would you say I or me?

Going back to the above examples, would you say:

Me at the ice cream shop or I at the ice cream shop?
Me at the convention or I at the convention?
Me at graduation or I at graduation?

You'd say me, wouldn't you?

With that said, let's look at a few samples. Are the following examples correct or incorrect? (answers below):

  1. Micah and me rode his Harley out to the lake so we could go skinny-dipping.
  2. Why is it when you and I get together, you always criticize my shoes?
  3. This picture is of Gizmo and me playing on the floor in the basement.
  4. The story and I aren't getting along at the moment.
Some of these examples might require you to break the sentence down a bit when eliminating the other party to focus on the self-reference, but they all break down so you can choose the right word. And if you're writing in first person, you really need to master this concept; otherwise, you'll just have a disaster of grammatical proportions. Okay, so are you ready for the answers?

  1. Incorrect. You wouldn't say "Me rode his Harley." You'd say, "I rode his Harley."
  2. Correct. "Why is it when me get together with you" doesn't make sense,but "Why is it when I get together with you" does. You just have to rearrange the words a bit.
  3. Correct. "The picture is of me..." not "The picture is of I..."
  4. Correct. "I am not getting along with the story" is correct, whereas "Me is not getting along with the story," isn't.
Does that make sense? When in doubt, remove the other party (the husband, the dog, the story, Micah, etc.) from the sentence and ask yourself if me or I makes sense? Whichever one does is the one you use.

Happy writing!


  1. For those who know grammar it's even easier:

    Use "I" when it is the subject of the sentence.
    Use "me" when it is the object of the sentence.

    Okay...for this you have to know the difference between subject and object..but really, I hoe people do...

    1. True, and sometimes it's hard to tell, so if I'm ever confused, I go to my dad's trick. This works for him/he and her/she, too.

  2. Duh - I just realized that you don't have it as easy as we Germans to realize what is subject and what object. We just ask "wer?" (who?) and this is the subject. If we ask "wen?" (whom?), "wem?" (whom') or "wessen?" (whose?) it's the object. But I noticed that "whom" seems to be out of fashion - people don't use it anymore...so they can't use that way to recognize the subject and object.

    And of course you are right, the same with he/she (subject)and him/her (object), too.

    1. Sprechen sie Deutsch? LOL. That's about as much as I can say in German...other than Ich bin mude (umlauts included, of course). But for now, I'll just say Auf Wiedersehen. :) It's time for bed.

  3. LOL - as offered before, if you ever need some German for your books - don't hesitate to ask ;)
    Schliesslich muss es doch für irgendetwas gut sein, dass man Freunde auf facebook hat, die in anderen Ländern leben...(After all it must be good for something to have friends on facebook who live in other contries)

    1. LOL!What's funny is I can read that just fine (I learned my German pronunciation wonderfully), but I would never know what it meant if you hadn't told me. Well, I know Freunde. :) And facebook was pretty easy to understand. And I will most definitely remember you for German needs. I actually have your name on my white board at home with "speaks German" beside it. LOL