Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Grammar lesson: 'Me' is not a four-letter word

When we were growing up, it was  a regular occurrence for our parents or a teacher or other adult to correct us as we learned - and often botched - the English language.

I don't claim to be an expert on proper grammar, but I know that as a little kid, to say, "Me and Suzy are going for a bike ride," was always quickly corrected. "It's not 'me and Suzy, it's Suzy and I," I'd be told. That was drilled into our heads. But now it seems people have come to view the use of "me" as always improper, to the point that they shun it as if it were a vulgar four-letter word never to be uttered in public.

How often do you hear phrases like, "I'm so glad you will be sitting with Joe and I at the concert," or "the waiter finally brought the drinks to my friends and I," or "thanks for joining my team and I at the meeting," - and so on? It drives me crazy.

Plenty of people do get it, but for those who fear the word "me", fear not. It is okay to use at the right times. When used as a subject (basically before the verb/beginning of the sentence or phrase in question), use "I". When used as a direct object (basically after the verb/at the end of the sentence or phrase), use "me".

A simple rule: use whatever you would use if used on its own. In other words, you wouldn't say, "I'm so glad you'll be sitting with I at the concert," or "thank you for joining I at the meeting." You'd say "me". So when you add someone else, just stick with what you would use if there were nobody else in the sentence. "I'm so glad you'll be sitting with Joe and me at the concert," - and on the flip side, "Joe and I are so glad you'll be sitting with us at the concert." (You wouldn't say, "Me so glad you'll be sitting with us....")

Maybe I'm being petty, but it tries my nerves (much like the other often-botched phrase: "could care less". It's "couldn't care less". If you could care less, you must care a little. To denote bliss, you wouldn't say, "I could be happier." You'd say, "I couldn't be happier." Same goes for the extent to which you absolutely do not care about something - but I digress).

I know this topic is hardly important in light of what is going on in our world and our country right now. Maybe because of the serious reality of things, I just needed to take a break and focus on something trivial - well, sort of trivial. :-)

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  1. I never knew what the rule was! I always thought you should never say me. thanks for this - and it's so easy now that I see how it works. Very cool. Thanks!

  2. The misuse of "I" is one of my biggest pet peeves! I hope everyone reads this. Great post!