When I was kid, the nuns would frequently correct me for my improper use of the word “me”. One would ask “how was your summer?”, to which I would enthusiastically answer “it was great – me and Barb did lots of stuff!”. And she would, of course, reply “you mean Barb and I did lots of stuff”. Sigh, yes, that’s what I meant.
It’s my guess that this happened a lot in schools and households across the country. And it’s my belief that these corrections lead us to an overcorrection of sorts. Now it’s not uncommon to hear things like “I’m buying dinner for you and I”.
The act of scraping one’s fingernails on a chalkboard never bothered me. But if it did, I would suspect it would feel something like the feeling I get when I hear an improper use of a pronoun.
Seriously…how on earth did a good percentage of the population come to say things like “him and I went to the movie”.
If you’re reading this and nodding ferociously, you understand where I’m coming from. If you’re reading this and wondering if your pronoun usage is on par, we can help.
When you’re dealing with multiple pronouns, just follow this one simple rule and you’ll be golden: Separate the Subjects.
This one is pretty obvious to most of us:
“me and Barb did lots of stuff” becomes “me did lots of stuff” and “Barb did lots of stuff”. Unless you’re a caveman (or woman), you probably want to go with “I did lots of stuff”
This one may not be as obvious, but as a general rule, you would never end a sentence with “I”:
“I’m buying dinner for you and I” becomes “I’m buying dinner for you” and “I’m buying dinner for I”. Anyone with English as a first language knows that “I’m buying dinner for me” is the way to go here.
In my opinion, this is the worst offense of them all, and it entices exceptional ridicule should anyone around the office make this mistake:
“him and I went to the movie” becomes “him went to the movie” (arghhhhhhhhhh!) and “I went to the movie”. Need I say more?
We hope this little rule will help you the next time you’re in a conundrum over which pronoun to use. We promise it will make you sound a whole lot smarter. And who doesn’t want to sound smarter? Me sure do.
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