Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I, Me, Mine?

The title of this blog entry is the title of one of my favorite songs by George Harrison. It is also the title of Harrison's autobiography. The song refers to the ego in a Hindu context. However, that is not the subject of this blog entry. Deal with it.

My mini-rant today is about the incorrect use of the pronouns "I" and "me." By way of demonstration, consider these examples:

(1) Mary and I went to the store.
(2) The audience gave Mary and I a standing ovation.
(3) Mary and me went to the store.
(4) The audience gave Mary and me a standing ovation.

Do you know which of these sentences are correct and which are incorrect?

I think the dilemma comes for most people because they grew up being corrected when they used "me" where "I" would have been correct. For some reason, children want to say things like, "Will Mike and me be able to go to the movie?" or "Sally and me want cake for dessert." Immediately, the adult in their life scolds them: "Mike and I", "Sally and I."

So we grow up thinking that using "I" instead of "me" is correct, educated, and desirable. This leads to statements like (2), above: "The audience gave Mary and I a standing ovation." This is incorrect. The correct way to say this is shown in (4): "The audience gave Mary and me a standing ovation."

One trick that has always worked for me is when you have a construction such as "Mary and I/me" simply remove "Mary and." In example (2) the sentence now reads "The audience gave I a standing ovation." You wouldn't say or write that, would you (at least I hope not)? Do the same with (3) and you have "Me went to the store." Um, no. That doesn't sound right, and it isn't right.

That's because we seem to be better at using "I" as the subject of a sentence, and "me" as an object of a verb or object of a preposition. We get confused when dealing with "Mary and I" or "Mary and me."

The next time you start to say or write, "Everything is working out great for Mary and I..." think for a second. Would you say, "Everything is working out great for I"? No, you wouldn't, because "for" is a preposition, and "I" is the subjective form of the pronoun. Therefore, "me" -- the objective form -- would be the correct form to use. That same rule applies when you throw Mary into the mix.

And Happy Birthday to George Harrison, who would have been 71 years old today. You left us too soon. We miss you.

1 comment:

  1. My husband and I ....... ^_^ tee - her Happy Birthday George and thanks for such an informative post now I'm off to grab so chocolate for me.....


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