Confusing 'I' and 'Me'

A Common Grammar Conundrum

2 boys dressed identically

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Picture this: Jessica Kasserman, a high school senior with a strong academic record and high hopes, walks into the office of Mr. Roberts, an admissions representative of XYZ University. “Thank you for inviting my mom and I to see the campus,” she says.

The college representative cringes. Jessica may have blown the interview already.

Which Is Correct?

Jessica should have said “my mom and me.” It’s one of the most common mistakes in word usage, so don't fret if you've found yourself guilty of this gaffe. Still, for those in the know, the misuse of “I” and “me” is agonizing; you would do well to learn what's right and wrong here.

People seem to fear the word “me”—perhaps this goes back to our elementary school days when our teachers steered us away from the word in favor of "My mom and I went to the store yesterday." However, the kind of sentences we're looking at here has a different structure, meaning the evasion of "me" no longer applies.

“The secret is just between you and me" may sound strange to your ear, but it's correct.

The Rules of 'I' Versus 'Me'

“I” is a nominative pronoun and is used as a subject of a sentence or clause, while “me” is an objective pronoun and used as an object.

The trouble with “me” usually begins when speakers are stringing together two or more objects in a sentence. “I” is not an objective case word, but people try to plug it in as an object because it just sounds smarter.

Sound too technical? Then think of this: To determine if you should use "I" or "me," leave out the extra object in your sentence and see if it is still correct.

You might be tempted to say:
“Would you explain that to John and I?”

But then, when you omit the other object, you’ll have:
“Would you explain that to I?”

Now that just sounds silly. Try this:
“Would you explain that to John and me?”

You know it's correct because you can break it down and it will still make sense:
“Would you explain that to me?”

Examples

WRONG: Leave the decision to Laura and I.
WRONG: Leave the decision to I.
RIGHT: Leave the decision to Laura and me.

WRONG: Please join Glenna and I for lunch.
RIGHT: Please join me for lunch.
RIGHT: Please join Glenna and me for lunch.

WRONG: It’s between you and I.
RIGHT: It’s between you and me.

WRONG: The group consists of Laura, Joe, and I.
RIGHT: The group consists of Laura, Joe, and me.