The photo Jennifer posted is of my parents and I at a backyard wedding.
Does it sound wrong to you? If you’re not sure, how about this:
My in-laws reciprocated my respect for their traditions, joining my wife, our children and I for a big holiday dinner.
They are both wrong. In these sentences, me should have been used for I.
Are you confused?
Don’t feel badly. Grammar confuses a lot of people, especially I/me. Interestingly enough, though, most people don’t typically make the I/me mistake in conversation. When the same sentence is written, people often write I instead of me, as if me is a lowly pronoun that shouldn’t be used in “proper” English.
I believe the idea that me isn’t proper comes from when a child is first learning the correct usage of pronouns. A young child will typically say “Me and Jason ran to the park.” A grownup or teacher corrects them: “No, it’s ‘Jason and I ran to the park.'” After a million corrections, the child deduces that only I should be used when you’re talking about yourself and someone else.
But what if Jason runs into the child? The child says: “Jason ran into me!” No one will correct him because the use of me in this sentence is proper.
The reason why it’s correct is because the child is the object in the sentence. The correct use of I and me depends on whether the pronoun is the subject or the object of the sentence.
Subject and Object
- A subject is the person or thing doing the action in the sentence.
- The object is the thing that is receiving the action.
Example: Jason and I ran to the park. Here, Jason and you are the subjects because the both of you are doing the action (running). The park is the object.
Example: Jason ran into me. Jason is still the subject, but now you are the object.
ME is always the correct pronoun for the OBJECT in the sentence
This is where people often get confused: What if you were with a couple of friends, say, Rasheed and Nicole, and Jason ran into all of you? The same rule would apply because you are all objects in the sentence. You’d say: Jason ran into Rasheed, Nicole and me. And, if you were writing the sentence, it would be written the same way you’d say it.
It would be incorrect to write Jason ran into Rasheed, Nicole and I. Wrong, wrong wrong.
Here’s a trick:
This may help you determine whether to use I or me: Drop the rest of the names in the sentence and say it aloud (or quietly, if you’re too embarrassed to talk to yourself).
Example 1 (from the beginning of this post): Drop the parents from the sentence The photo Jennifer posted is of my parents and I at a backyard wedding. It now reads: The photo Jennifer posted is of I.
Hopefully it sounds wrong to you. The correct pronoun is me. Jennifer is the subject because she’s doing the posting. The photo is the object, and the photo is of a group of people (including you) who are all objects in the sentence.
It should read: The photo Jennifer posted is of my parents and me at a backyard wedding.
Try taking out the rest of the names for example 2: Drop the wife and children from the sentence My in-laws reciprocated my respect for their traditions, joining my wife, our children and I for a big holiday dinner. Hopefully you can hear this sounds wrong: My in-laws reciprocated, joining I for dinner. It is wrong.
It should read: My in-laws reciprocated my respect for their traditions, joining my wife, our children and me for a big holiday dinner.
I hope this helps you understand what is a common grammar mistake in writing. If it sounds wrong, it is wrong. Me is not a lowly pronoun.
If you want to read further on this subject, Grammar Girl has a great post that explains I vs me in more depth.
Read Linda’s other posts on Grammar
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, about one woman’s need to tell the truth without shame.
Angelica must find the strength to make her life her own after a devastating family secret, heartbreak, betrayal and bad decisions turn her world upside down.
Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
Readers’ Favorite Finalist
USA Book News Best Book Finalist
New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
Publication announcement: Linda’s essay “My Horrible Celebrity Crush” is included in this new anthology from McFarland Books!
IDOL TALK: Woman Writers on the Teenage Infatuations that Changed Their Lives
In the midst of acne, social anxiety and training bras are the teen idols that make adolescent life a little more bearable. Whether their cutouts are plastered on bedroom walls or hidden behind locker doors, there is no denying the impact of these stars on young women. This collection of new essays explores with tenderness and humor the teen crushes of the past 50 years who have influenced the choices of women, romantically or otherwise, well into adulthood.
IDOL TALK makes a terrific gift for a woman of any age. Included are deeply personal musings about such stars as Elvis, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Davy Jones as well as some nontraditional idols including Bobby Orr, Baryshnikov and Raymond Burr and more.
Edited by Elizabeth Searle and Tamra Wilson, Foreword by Peter Noone. 252 pages, 70 photos