I and Me

Commonly Confused Words

I and me
(JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images)

Both I and me are first-person singular pronouns, but they are used in different ways.

Definitions

I is the subject form of the first-person singular pronoun: "I laughed."

Me is the object form of the first-person singular pronoun: "Bart laughed at Lisa and me."

For an explanation of why these two pronouns are commonly confused (along with advice on how to avoid confusing them), see the usage notes below.

Also see:

Examples

  • When I was younger, my brother and I loved frozen waffles.
  • My mother told me that I could succeed if I tried hard enough.
  • Mary and I remained good friends until she and her family moved to Boston.
  • "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."
    (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • Mrs. Doubtfire read a story to Natalie and me.
  • "Young man," my father said, "there is a big difference between you and me."
  • "When I started teaching, it never crossed my mind that I might have a student who was smarter than I was."
    (Maryellen Weimer)
     

Usage Notes

  • "First, me and I. The mistakes happen when the me or I comes after an and. 'The guitar player was looking at Carly and I.' To find the solution, get rid of 'Carly' and 'and.' What you’re left with--'The guitar player was looking at I'--shows you that something in the sentence is screwy. 'The guitar player was looking at Carly and me' may be a fantasy--he probably was blinded by the lights and too stoned to see either of you--but at least it’s grammatically correct.

    "By the same intuitive reasoning, 'Carly and me went backstage to his dressing room' is a mistake, both in terms of grammar and behavior."
    (Joan Wickersham, "Navigating the Grammatical Thicket." The Boston Globe, February 22, 2013)
  • "[W]hich is correct?
    Go to the store with Bob and I.
    Go to the store with Bob and me.
    The second sentence is correct. An easy way to test this is to eliminate the other person in the sentence and say the sentence with the pronoun by itself. Here, we would say, 'Go to the store with me.' We wouldn't say, 'Go to the store with I.' Therefore, me is the correct form of the pronoun for this sentence, even if we add another person."
    (Toni Rouse, How to Use Parts of Speech, Grades 6-8. Teacher Created Resources, 1999)
     
  • Between You and Me
    "When you're using the objective case, the correct pronoun is me, so the correct prepositional phrase is between you and me. (If it helps, you can remember that the Jessica Simpson song 'Between You and I' is wrong, so wrong.)

    "Most grammarians are often sympathetic to people who say 'between you and I' because it's considered a hypercorrection. You might feel funny writing between you and me, but be brave; be strong. Between you and me, we know we're right."
    (Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students. Henry Holt, 2010)
  • Hypercorrection
    "At times, prescriptive grammar rules are overextended to the point that speakers hypercorrect, that is, they apply the grammatical rules in situations where they should not.

    "Take, for instance, the use of the pronouns I and me. For many years English teachers in the U.S. railed against the incorrect use of me, the object pronoun, in subject position as in:
    (1) Me and John are going to the store.
    or John and me are going to the store.
    (2) Me and Sue had lunch.
    or Sue and me had lunch.
    There is a prescriptive grammar rule in English specifying that pronouns in subject position must be subject pronouns (I, you, we, he, she, it, they). According to this rule, speakers' use of me in (1) and (2) is incorrect because me is actually the first person object pronoun. In addition, the subject pronoun I should follow any other noun subject or subject pronoun. Thus, from a prescriptive point of view, Sentences (1) and (2) must be:
    (1a) John and I are going to the store.
    (2a) Sue and I had lunch.
    In the last several decades, many native speakers, attempting to avoid the incorrect use of me tend to hypercorrect the use of me by substituting I, even in cases where me is called for because it is in object position. Consider the following samples of actual speech:
    (3) They couldn't have raised all the necessary funding without input from John and I, even coming in at the last minute as we did.
    John and I are objects of the preposition from. The prescriptive grammar rule requires the use of me and not I. . . .

    "What we see (in these examples) is a difference in prescriptive grammar rules and descriptive grammar rules."
    (Andrea DeCapua, Grammar for Teachers: A Guide to American English for Native and Non-Native Speakers. Springer, 2008)
  • The Use of I and Me After Forms of the Verb Be
    "In early Modern English, the nominative and objective forms of the personal pronouns, particularly I and me, tend to occur more or less indiscriminately after the verb be. In [Shakespeare's] Twelfth Night, for instance, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, who, though a fool, is yet a gentleman, uses both forms within a few lines: 'That's mee I warrant you . . . I knew 'twas I' (2.5.87-9). . . .

    "Today also the objective form of personal pronouns continues to occur after be, though not without bringing down upon the head of the user the thunder of those who regard themselves as guardians of the language. There are nevertheless a great many speakers of standard English who do not care and who say 'It's me' when there is occasion to do so, despite the school doctrine that 'the verb to be can never take an object.' There is little point in labeling the construction colloquial or informal as contrasted with a supposedly formal 'It is I,' inasmuch as the utterance would not be likely to occur anywhere except in conversation. Followed by a relative clause, however, 'It is I' is usual, as in 'It is I who am responsible,' though 'It is me' occurs as a rule before relative clauses where the pronoun is the object, as in 'It is me that he's hunting.' What has been said of me after forms of be applies also to us, him, her, and them."
    (John Algeo and Thomas Pyles, The Origins and Development of the English Language, 5th ed. Thomson Wadsworth, 2005)
  • The Lighter Side of I and Me
    "Some persons pin their entire faith to a correct use of the pronouns I and me. They cheerfully commit every other form of linguistic violence, but as long as they can preserve sufficient presence of mind boldly to say once in so often something like, 'He left James and me behind,' instead of resorting to the cowardly 'James and myself,' or the elegantly ungrammatical 'James and I,' they feel that their educational integrity has been preserved."
    (Charles Macomb Flandrau, "What Is Education?" Prejudices, 1911)

Practice

(a) Bobby and _____ built a fort out of a refrigerator box.

(b) On the school playground, I stood up to a fourth-grader who picked on Bobby and _____.

(c) My grandfather gave _____ a little silver ring that _____ knew _____ would treasure forever.

(d) Last summer Anna spent two weeks at the cottage with my mother, brother, and _____.

e) This must be kept a secret, just between you and _____.

 

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

Answers to Practice Exercises: I and Me

(a) Bobby and I built a fort out of a refrigerator box.

(b) On the school playground, I stood up to a fourth-grader who picked on Bobby and me.

(c) My grandfather gave me a little silver ring that I knew I would treasure forever.

(d) Last summer Anna spent two weeks at the cottage with my mother, brother, and me.

(e) This must be kept a secret, just between you and me.

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "I and Me." ThoughtCo, Apr. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/i-and-me-1689417. Nordquist, Richard. (2016, April 22). I and Me. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/i-and-me-1689417 Nordquist, Richard. "I and Me." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/i-and-me-1689417 (accessed November 18, 2017).