When it comes to favorite grammar mistakes, there are few more popular, and few less often made, than the mistake with the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me’. Let’s have a look at some typical sentences with a mistake of this nature, and talk about why, in fact, those sentences are wrong.
‘Me and Jane went to the cinema.’
This is the most frequently made mistake when it comes to the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me’, and in terms of spoken English, it has become a mistake that is so commonplace that it has almost become acceptable.
Except it isn’t acceptable, and neither should it ever be.
A great tip to follow when looking at how to use the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me’ is to apply the pronouns individually to any particular sentence. This then makes the mistake that much more apparent.
‘Me went to the cinema.’
It sounds awful, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds like a sentence Tarzan would say. “Me Tarzan, you Jane!” And Tarzan grew up in the jungle with animals as his family. He didn’t go to school one day in his life!
The reason this sentence sounds so ridiculous is that ‘me’ is an object pronoun. ‘I’ is the equivalent subject pronoun, and in this particular example sentence, the word clearly represents the subject of the sentence or the doer of the action. So, the correct sentence should be:
‘I went to the cinema.’
So, returning to the original sentence, the correct version should be:
‘Jane and I went to the cinema.’
Note that ‘I’ is used as the second subject pronoun. Although not technically wrong, the sound of ‘I and Jane’, or indeed whatever the other subject is, is clumsy in the extreme, and so grammatical habit dictates that ‘I’ become the last listed subject pronoun if there is more than one. It would be the same if other pronouns are used with it. For example:
‘You and I went to the cinema.’ Not…
‘I and you went to the cinema.’
And it’s the same if there are three or more subjects or subject pronouns:
‘Jane, Tom and I went to the cinema.’ Or…
‘She, he and I went to the cinema.’
Let’s look at some more example sentences that include this mistake.
‘Neither you nor me wanted to do it.’ ‘You and I…’
‘She asked him and I if we could do it.’
‘She doesn’t like you or I.’
The final two examples above make the exact same mistake, but with the object pronoun. ‘Me’ is the object, not ‘I’. Of course, removing the other object ‘you’ would make this really obvious. For example:
‘She asked I if we could do it.’
‘She doesn’t like I.’
It just sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
It’s a simple mistake, but often the simplest mistakes are the easiest to make. So, when it comes to using ‘I’ and ‘me’, just use them individually in the sentence (without any other subjects or objects) and you will quickly see which makes sense.