Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: A Simple Rule to Remember Me Versus I

Posted by  KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



Here's a question I received from Jeanette.

Karen, wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog posts, especially the ones that deal with grammar. So many words can be tricky, and, as a writer, I don't want to jar my reader by using the wrong word. When I read something that isn't correct, it throws me off. I particularly liked "me versus I," which I see used incorrectly all the time. Perhaps I missed it, but do you have a simple rule we can remember to avoid using the wrong word? 

I think I have it down, but here is an example I'm not sure about. Which is correct: "He is taller than me" or "He is taller than I?" This suggests that the rest of the sentence is "am tall." It seems both are correct. Are they? 

Thank for your kind words and your question, Jeanette.

This one stumps a lot of people. We read it written incorrectly. We hear it spoken incorrectly. Pretty soon, you end up doubting yourself when you see it on the page.

A simple rule to follow is that the sentence should sound right if you remove the other person’s name.

Example

Incorrect: Would you like to go to the concert with David and I?

If you remove David, the sentence would read, “Would you like to go to the concert with I?”

Correct: Would you like to go to the concert with David and me?

If you take out David, the sentence would read, ”Would you like to go to the concert with me?”

See?

So, to answer the second part of your question, “he is taller than me” is correct.

Both pronouns—I and me—refer to oneself, so use I when you are the subject of the sentence, and use me when you are the object.

We hear sentences like the next example all of the time.

Example

Incorrect: Me and Deb will be swimming.

First off, the names of others always come first in a sequence.

The same rule that the sentence should sound correct if you remove the other person’s name applies here, too.

If you remove Deb, the sentence would read, “Me will be swimming,” which obviously is not right.

Correct: Deb and I will be swimming.

Hope that helps, Jeanette. Best of luck with your writing.


If you have a question you’d like to see featured on Editing for Grammarphobes, drop me a line at karen@karenberner.com.



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References

These five books are on my desk at all times. Maybe they'll help you as well.

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2017 edition
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition
The Bugaboo Review: A lighthearted guide to exterminating confusion about words, spelling, and grammar




Bio

A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.




Comments

Anonymous said…
Me love your blogs, Karen. Being an author, they're pretty much a must for I.

;o)

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