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“I” or “Me”
Elsewhere on this site, we address confusion with myself and other reflexive pronouns. This article focuses specifically on knowing when to use I or me.
Consider these sentences, which we will address in the discussion below:
- Harry and I will take the annual report to the meeting.
- The winners of the contest were Morgan and I.
- She called Harry and me on Saturday.
- The argument was between Sally and me.
- Andrew said, “Mother gave the keys to Elizabeth and me.”
I Is a Subject; Me Is Not
The first sentence is correct because “Harry and I” are the subjects of the verb “will take.”
Much of the confusion with pronouns occurs in compound constructions. If we remove “Harry and” from the sentence, we can easily hear which pronoun is correct: we would never say “Me will take the annual report to the meeting.”
I Follows a Linking Verb
Another time when I is correct occurs when we have a linking verb and need a predicate pronoun to rename the subject.
Think of a linking verb as a mathematical equals mark: winners = Morgan and I. If both sides of the linking verb are equal, then we should be able to reverse the sentence and still have it make sense: “Morgan and I were the winners” conveys the same meaning as “The winners were Morgan and I.”
Because we would never say “Me was the winner,” neither should we say “The winner was me.” (Notice that once again we can more easily discern the correct pronoun if we get rid of the compound and focus on the pronoun I or me as if it were alone.)
Me Follows Prepositions and Action Verbs
The third sentence is right because called is an action verb, and “Harry and me” are its direct objects: they are the ones who were called. If we remove “Harry and,” we can easily hear that “She called me on Saturday” sounds correct, whereas “She called I on Saturday” obviously sounds wrong.
In the last two sentences, me is correct because it serves as the object of the prepositions between and to. As in every other case, simply removing the compound usually enables us to hear which pronoun is correct: we would never say “Mother gave the keys to I.”
TEST YOURSELF: Do the following sentences correctly use I or me?
- Before you leave, please give your check to Bobby or I so we can confirm your reservation.
- She asked if Martha and me could find speakers for the program.
- She encouraged Doug and I to attend the afternoon sessions of the program.
- The argument between Cindy and I lasted for several weeks.
- The committee members are Bill Lewis, Sandra Saulisbury, Judy Drysdale, and I.
- to Bobby or me
- if Martha and I could find
- encouraged Doug and me
- between Cindy and me
Copyright 2005 Get It Write. Revised 2019.