Wednesday, 7 January 2009

I and Me

Picture this: Jesse Kasserman, a high school senior with a strong academic record and high hopes, walks into the office of Dr. James, an admission representative of XYZ University. “Thank you for inviting my mom and I to see the campus,” he says. The college representative cringes.

Jesse might have blown the interview already. Why? Jesse should have said “my mom and me.” Smart people everywhere agonize over the misuse of “I” and “me.” It’s one of the  most common mistakes in word usage.

People seem to fear the word “me.” Why? Maybe the word “me” reminds us of baby talk, and that makes us nervous. You would never say “Me want a sandwich,” after all. That would be very embarrassing.

But to many people, it sounds just as wrong to hear “The secret is just between you and I.” It’s just wrong.

The official explanation is, “I” is a nominative pronoun and is used as a subject of a sentence or clause, while “me” is an objective pronoun and used as an object.

Sound too technical? Then think of this:

The trouble with “me” usually begins when speakers are stringing together two or more objects in a sentence. “I” is not an objective case word, but people try to plug it in as an object because it just sounds smarter.

All you have to do is leave out the second object. Look over these examples, and you’ll see it’s really simple.

You might be tempted to say:

WRONG: “Would you explain that to John and I?”

But then, when you omit the other object, you’ll have:

WRONG: “Would you explain that to I?”

Now that just sounds silly.

Try this:

RIGHT: “Would you explain that to John and me?”

RIGHT: “Would you explain that to me?”


No comments: