What Not to Do Wednesday on the I Thing

I’m standing outside of church this past weekend when my mother (the former high school English teacher) turns to me and says, “Did you hear him say it?” She didn’t even have to say what the “it” was. Because the “it” is one of those things that drives us both crazy. We can’t help but hear “it” anytime, anywhere, anyplace “it” might pop up.

I’m not talking about using “it” so much that a reader has no idea what “it” you’re referring to. (Though maybe I should address that little grammatical point at a later date.) I’m talking about this “it”: using “I” when one should use “me.”

You know what I’m talking about, grasshopper. Saying, for example, “I thought a Dice-o-Matic would make a great gift for Mr. Hall and I.” Or how about, “Little did I know that such a contraption could wreak such havoc with him and I.” And finally, “Give that sliced-off finger to the nurse or I.” Honestly, I feel a little sick just typing those sentences.

Here’s the thing, grasshopper. “I” is a subjective pronoun. It is NOT an objective pronoun. You might think it sounds better to say “you, him, or Mr. Hall and I” all the time. But it’s only correct when “I” is used subjectively.

For example, “You and I (we’re the subject here) should never play with a Dice-o-Matic.” That’s great (and very true).

And when you have a sentence where you’re tempted to use that “I,” take a look around and see if you notice any prepositions. Those little words like with, to, of, for, about, and all the others that you should have memorized back in the day. Chances are very good that you will need a “me” if you spot one of those prepositional phrases. As in: “A sliced-off finger is no fun for Mr. Hall or me.”

Which also happens to be very true. And an entirely different What Not To Do.

10 thoughts on “What Not to Do Wednesday on the I Thing

  1. Hi Cathy,Maybe we should start a club.The misuse of "I" drives me crazy, too. One of our parish priests gives wonderful (and brief) homilies, but I cringe because I know somewhere in his sermon he will say something like, "It's the same for you and I." He is an educated and thoughtful man, but somehow he must've missed out on that English lesson.Another pet peeve. Using "me" as a subject. Here's one I heard the other day: "Me and my friends want to go to Six Flags." rather than "My friends and I . . ." I feel your pain.Donna

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Donna! Somehow, I feel better, just knowing you understand :-).(P.S. The offending person I alluded to was indeed a priest. Maybe we should offer a class: Simple Grammar for Seminarians.)

  3. What gets me is when people say 'anyways'… "Anyways, I wasn't planning on cooking." Or "I was going to the store anyways."Aargh!Yes, both you and I know that isn't a word either.:-)

  4. I never remember the why's and why not's and what language terms really are. The ONLY way I can ever really remember it is to remove "Mr. Hall" and see if the "I" or the "me" makes sense in the sentence once the "Mr. Hall" is removed and whichever one makes sense, that's the right one. Which works well in the written form, but horrible in conversations. Lots of pauses!And see, Cath, I did not make ONE joke comment about removing "Mr. Hall". You are likely very proud of I.

  5. You do make me laugh, Blakie. Of course, I'm cringing, too. So, I guess I'm more like craughing. Which, if you happen to be thinking about the beneficent Mr. Hall, you could be doing, too.

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