Say it aloud. Does it sound wrong to you? If you’re not sure, how about this:
2. 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 of a subject: Jason and I ran to the park. Here, Jason and you are the subjects because you are doing the action (running).
Example of an object: Jason ran into me. Jason is still the subject, but now you are the object. If you were writing the sentence, it would be written the same. Johnny ran into me.
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, when Johnny ran into you? The same rule would apply because you are all objects in the sentence. You’d say: Johnny ran into Rasheed, Nicole and me. And, if you were writing the sentence, it would be written the same way you’d say it.
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): The photo Jennifer posted is of
my parents andI at a backyard wedding, so that it 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 who are all objects in the sentence. It should be: 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: My in-laws reciprocated my respect for their traditions, joining
my wife, our children andI for a big holiday dinner. Say it. Hopefully you can hear that My in-laws reciprocated, joining I for dinner sounds wrong.
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 In the Context of Love, adult contemporary fiction, a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist.
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.