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A handy trick to pick between me and I

Posted by Wendy Wood on 2nd February , 2021 in Grammar
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The company my husband works for profiled him for their newsletter. When they asked what new skill he’d like to pick up in an instant, he responded “Grammar. It can make a smart person look dumb in just a few sentences. My wife and sister both have editing backgrounds and function on a completely different level”.

Now Matt is a super-smart guy. He’s got a master’s degree in Organisational Management, and in our conversations he throws around words like governance, KPMs, and budgeting shortfalls as if I know what he’s talking about.

But he also knows he has grammar shortfalls.

I was still rather surprised a couple of days ago when he asked, “should I use ‘I’ or ‘me’ here?”

The sentence: Thank you for speaking to Ashley and I.

“That should be ‘me’,” I responded.

He asked me to explain. I rolled my eyes and asked if he ever reads Super Grammar (we’ve covered this before). “But this is a different sentence!” he said. And he’s right, not because it’s a different sentence but because his pronouns are objects this time.

Pronouns are either subjects or objects. Here’s what they look like in each of those forms:

Subject forms:  I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who
Object forms:  me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom.

A subject is the doer of an action. An object is the receiver of an action. In Matt’s sentence, the pronoun in question is an object of the preposition “to”.

The pitfall Matt fell into is a common one. It’s the reason you’ll often see “just between you and I” written rather than the correct version “just between you and me”. That “and” can confuse your mind into thinking your pronoun is a subject.

The trick is to separate the pieces of your sentence – sort of like diagramming it. If you separate Matt’s sentence into “Thank you for speaking to Ashley” and “Thank you for speaking to I”, the error is easily recognised.

Wendy Wood
Proofreader

 

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