It Is I; It Is Not Me

Many people get confused about when to use “I” and when to use “me.”

Here’s the rule: Use “I” as a subject and “me” as an object (after an action verb or preposition).

Subject pronouns include: I, he, she, we, they

Object pronouns include: me, him, her, us, them

Two pronouns can go either way: it, you

Examples:

He and I gave gifts to her and them.

Just between you and me, she will take him to the cleaners.

If in doubt about whether to use “I” or “me” with compound subjects or objects, use each pronoun by itself in the sentence:

John and __ gave gifts to her. 

Me gave gifts to her?  No. 

I gave gifts to her. Therefore, use John and I.

She gave gifts to John and __. 

She gave gifts to I?  No. 

She gave gifts to me. Therefore, use John and me.

Now, there is a special rule about linking verbs.

Linking verbs include any form of the verb “be” (is, are, am, was, were, has been, are being, might have been, should be),  as well as “become” and “seem.”

Linking verbs take a subject on either side of the verb, not an object pronoun.

Examples:

It is I.  It is not I.

This is she.

I’m glad I’m not he.

These are grammatically correct, but sound stilted and unnatural. Object pronouns are used so often with linking verbs, you can usually get away with them in informal speech.

However, when President Obama used the wrong pronouns in public, the New York Times called him on it:

Since his election, the president has been roundly criticized by bloggers for using “I” instead of “me” in phrases like “a very personal decision for Michelle and I” or “the main disagreement with John and I” or “graciously invited Michelle and I.”

So it’s best to follow these rules, because you never know when the Grammar Police might castigate you for breaking them!

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