The Rule "Educated" People Think They Know But Don't

In my years talking to people of all ages and reading their writing, I’ve found that there are people who believe they’re educated grammatically but in reality don’t know nearly as much as they think they do.

There’s one telltale sign that I’m talking to a person who belongs to this population:

They believe the pronoun “I” is sacred and smart and can fit in any sentence. Sometimes, most frustratingly, they correct people incorrectly.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use “I” versus “me”.

What you should know:
1.       “I” is a nominative (a.k.a. subjective) pronoun. That means “I” performs the action in the sentence.
2.       “me” is an objective pronoun. That means someone in the sentence does something to or with “me”.

Let’s get back to those people who believe “I” fits any sentence. Sometimes, by luck of the draw, they’re right to use “I”. Take this sentence:

Doug and I went to the Twins game.

See—that works because if you removed “Doug” from the sentence, you would use “I”. You’d write, “I went to the Twins game.” It makes sense to use the nominative (subjective) form because “I” performs the action in the sentence.

Where these “educated” people run into problems is when the first-person pronoun should be objective. They say this:

Would you like to go to the Twins game with Doug and I?

This doesn’t work. You’ll agree with me once you remove “Doug” from the sentence. Now the sentence becomes “Would you like to go to the Twins game with I?” That’s not right, is it? In this case, Doug and the person talking are the objects of the sentence—someone else is being asked to perform the action. What you mean to say is this:

Would you like to go to the Twins game with Doug and me?

This strategy of removing the other people in a part of the sentence works every time. Use it. Or don’t, but stop correcting people incorrectly.

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