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Should I use “me” or should I use “I”?

Posted by Wendy Wood on 14th July , 2020 in Grammar
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Since COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders in our state, my husband has worked from home. His company says they probably won’t return to their office building until 2021. The dog and I are overjoyed at this news. No, seriously, I mean this! We eat breakfast together every morning and take three walks a day now.

But one of the downsides of my husband working from home is that he’s set up his “office” in the kitchen, and while I’m doing my afternoon chores I often overhear his conversations with his coworkers.

Yesterday, I heard him say, “Me and Ashley already discussed this issue.” ARRGH! Shouldn’t a proofreader’s husband know better? Haven’t I taught him anything in 30 years of marriage?

He’d used the wrong pronoun. People often make this mistake when there is a plural subject of themselves and another person performing an action.

Pronouns have two forms: the subject form and the object form. The subject form is the subject of the sentence – whoever (or whatever) is doing the action of the verb. The object form of a pronoun receives the action of the verb.

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

In my husband’s sentence, “discussed” is the verb. What is the subject of this verb? Who has performed the action of discussing? You can see he’s used a plural subject of “Me [sic] and Ashley.”

The easiest way to determine if you’ve used the correct pronoun is to separate the subjects and complete the sentence with those subjects individually. For example, “Ashley already discussed this issue” and “me already discussed this issue.”  When I did this for my husband, he immediately recognized that he should have used “I.”

Now, for the double whammy of his mistake: The unwritten convention in English is to put yourself last when listing several people including yourself. So, he should have actually said “Ashley and I.”

Wendy Wood
Proofreader

 

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