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When To Use "I" or "Me" - Put the Right Word In

Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts, and culture, and sharing that knowledge.

Maybe Jimmy should do the talking.

Maybe Jimmy should do the talking.

When Do You use “I” or “Me”?

When do you use these pronouns? They are such little words, yet they are often misunderstood.

"I" and "me" are called personal pronouns. That is a drab term to say that instead of using peoples’ names all the time, we can use other words – often smaller – in place of names.

Where would we be without these pronouns?

If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you may recall the episode with "The Jimmy". Jimmy never uses first-person pronouns. He always refers to himself using his name or the third person. “Jimmy loves his high-jump training shoes.” He doesn’t actually use personal pronouns like “I” or “he.”

What if we lived in a world without personal pronouns? If every time Jimmy said his name, and then substituted the word “I,” he’d actually be using it all the time.

But, in a world where we actually want to use “I” or “me,” when do we use these tiny pronouns that cause so much angst?

The Jimmy

"I" goes before the verb

The word “I” always goes before the verb. (I say always, but let’s pretend I’m always right. I’ll talk about exceptions below.) This is what’s called nominative case. But Cyndi (that’s me) won’t bore you with such grammatical designations. Just remember: before the verb – no matter how many people, nouns, and places you have going on before the verb in a statement.

I want to be a millionaire.

Jimmy and I want to be millionaires.

The people, Jimmy and I want to be millionaires.

"Me" Goes After the Verb

The word “me” always goes after the verb, regardless if it’s one or ten people in the statement.

Jimmy won’t talk to me.

Jimmy won’t talk to Kramer or me.

Jimmy won’t talk to Kramer, Elaine, Jerry or me.

The fact that “me” always goes after the verb is called objective case. No matter – just remember that “me” goes after the verb.

It's a good thing we say, "I Love You" and not "Me Love You."

It's a good thing we say, "I Love You" and not "Me Love You."

Now For the Headaches

Now for the headaches. I feel a migraine coming on. Oh no! Somebody get me some vinegar!

Now...what was I talking about?

English always has headaches – exceptions to the rules. Granted, these aren’t really exceptions, per se, but our speech has changed enough that these grammatical anomalies are becoming more accepted.

Have you ever answered the phone, and the caller asks for you? Yes – all of us have had this mundane experience.

But how did you respond? Did you say, “this is he” or did you say “this is him.”

Which is correct?

If you guessed “this is he,” then you are correct. BUT, and it is a BIG but, “this is him” is acceptable, too.

What? How can both be acceptable?

Well, after a linking verb (such as is or was), you’re technically supposed to use nominative case.

It is I.

This is she.

It was he.

It was they that called. (Even as I write this statement, my grammar checker on my computer HATES this usage of “they”.)

What? I never hear that! Only stodgy, grumpy old men would bother using such formalities.

Exactly.

The examples above are utterly formal. You might see these sorts of statements in extremely formal writing. Modern speech doesn’t really like using such sanctimonious, ceremonial statements. Who does? It’s not like we spend all our time at dinner parties with velvet dresses and seven forks to choose from, right?

So, our writing is affected, too.

We generally say the following:

It’s me.

This is her.

It was him.

It was them that called.

The linking verb can go unhinge itself and have a nice day. It’s more and more acceptable to answer the phone and say, “this is her.”

Try this statement out:

Should this be “just between you and me” or “just between you and I”?

Well, where’s the verb? Hmmm…our lazy, colloquial speech has become a bit slack in its verbiage.

That is, we have dropped off the verb. That’s right, we dropped it off at some party and we forgot where the party is.

The real sentence would read like, “This is just between you and me.”

Now, I ask you, where’s the verb? Remember, from earlier, “me” always comes after the verb.

Now, try the quiz and see if you are allowed to use personal pronouns, or if you’re just going to have to talk like Jimmy.

Me or I?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which is correct?
    • The judge spoke to Jimmy and I.
    • The Judge spoke to Jimmy and me.
  2. Which is correct?
    • The movie interested you more than me.
    • The movie interested you more than I.
  3. Which is correct?
    • You are as strong as me.
    • You are as strong as I.
  4. Which is correct?
    • All the neighborhood kids and I rode bikes.
    • All the neighborhood kids and me rode bikes.
  5. Which is correct?
    • That paper belongs to John and me.
    • That paper belongs to John and I.
  6. Which is correct?
    • He and I rode to the post office.
    • Me and him rode to the post office.
  7. Which is correct?
    • Me and my friends went to the movies.
    • My friends and I went to the movies.
  8. Which is correct?
    • Dad was mad at us. He told Jimmy and I to stay in our room.
    • Dad was mad at us. He told Jimmy and me to stay in our room.
  9. Which is correct?
    • I am me!
    • I am I!
  10. Which is correct?
    • Walking down the road, she and I talked for hours.
    • Walking down the road, me and her talked for hours.

Answer Key

  1. The Judge spoke to Jimmy and me.
  2. The movie interested you more than me.
  3. You are as strong as I.
  4. All the neighborhood kids and I rode bikes.
  5. That paper belongs to John and me.
  6. He and I rode to the post office.
  7. My friends and I went to the movies.
  8. Dad was mad at us. He told Jimmy and me to stay in our room.
  9. I am me!
  10. Walking down the road, she and I talked for hours.

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 3 correct answers: Um, you'd better go back and re-read this. Is anyone taking you seriously? Start talking like Jimmy.

If you got between 4 and 6 correct answers: You'd better review. You might be laughed off the stage. Go make friends with Jimmy.

If you got between 7 and 8 correct answers: You're getting there. But I have to wonder if you're paying attention. Maybe you should pay attention to Jimmy.

If you got 9 correct answers: Wow. You may have paid attention in school. Stop listening to Jimmy.

If you got 10 correct answers: Great job. You paid attention and you can speak. You make Cyndi (that's me) proud. Let's go beat up Jimmy.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 07, 2012:

Tillsontitan - YAHOO! You got it! I'm with you on the math quiz part. I'm doomed there. :P Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Suzie HQ - hehe, a little humorous grammar to take the pain away. Hehe. Thank you for your feedback. Have a wonderful weekend! Cheers!

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on September 07, 2012:

Great hub and lesson! Grammar always good to do brush up on, me thinks! Loved your humour and easy writing style that flows, good job!

Votes +++++ and sharing :-)

Mary Craig from New York on September 07, 2012:

100%...guess I still got it ;) Now if that was a math quiz I could be in trouble.

Great refresher and good information for many hubbers from foreign lands where English is still a puzzle.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 06, 2012:

Kelley - I would NOT underestimate your incredible writing skills. You're phenomenal! Thank you so much for the votes and I'm glad you enjoyed this. :)

Wannabewestern - Jimmy says HI! Hehe. Jimmy in the third-person makes me crazy. LOL. Thank you for stopping by!

Vicki - aw, thank you for stopping by again. You are so sweet. I appreciate you. :D

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on September 06, 2012:

I think I've read this before, but it was worth dropping by again. I love your sense of humor in explaining grammar, CC!

Carolyn Augustine from Iowa on September 06, 2012:

This was a great refresher and such a well-written, well-designed hub. Jimmy and I loved it!

kelleyward on September 06, 2012:

I love this hub because I need to brush up on my grammar, or lack thereof, skills. I bombed the quiz :). Sharing and voting up and useful!!!! Kelley

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 29, 2012:

SeekingMJ - I love The Jimmy. :) Thank you for your comments and insights. Eh, I have to review my hubs sometimes when I'm writing because it is hard to remember every little thing. Hehe. (HUGS)

SeekingMJ from Bryan, Texas on March 29, 2012:

First off, thanks for sharing the video. I had forgotten about The Jimmy!

Great hub. I have a lot to learn about proper grammar. Most the time when I use I, it should be me. Oh well. :)

I will be reading this one again.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 02, 2012:

Dina - that's awesome! English is confusing enough for native speakers, let alone non-native speakers. Wow! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Dina Blaszczak from Poland on March 02, 2012:

Great hub Cyndi, well written and I liked the quiz, I got 80% (English is not my native language), so I'm pleased with results :)

Voted up, useful, interesting, funny.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 02, 2012:

tsmog - your reference to George Herbert is great. I'm going to have to learn more about symbolic interactionism. :) Perhaps that's even a hub idea. No worries about that quiz - nothing a little brushing up won't fix. Ha!

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on March 02, 2012:

OK,cclitgirl, I took the quiz and now will read the hub. just above 50/50 I see a tune-up is needed. Throwing a curve ball here, my biggest interest with I and Me is the work of George Herbert Mead within symbolic interactionism. Maybe that skewed my answers. Well, I'm off to learn or relearn, not sure which just yet :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

Rolly - aw, thanks for stopping by. :) I'm glad you liked this.

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on February 29, 2012:

Great resource... thank you...

Hugs

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

Vellur - Thanks for your feedback. I'm really glad you found this useful.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on February 29, 2012:

Very useful and easy to understand. Voted up.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

thoughtforce - thanks for your kind words. The quiz - I put a couple really tricky questions in there. :) Thanks for the kudos. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

PDX - Eh, I was a Spanish major and spent I don't know how many hours learning the mechanics of English so that I could understand Spanish. Do English majors have grammar classes? If not, then no worries. You've got some grammar hubs to help you. :D

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on February 29, 2012:

This is a great hub about grammar and a fantastic lesson! I liked the quiz, it was fun even though I didn't got 100%! Bookmarked, up, useful

Tina

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on February 29, 2012:

boy, for an English major and a grammar nazi, i sure didn't do well. I'll be linking this with my hub "I want to read your hub"

https://hubpages.com/community/I-Want-to-read-Your...

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

rajan jolly - I'm happy you liked your grammar lesson. I'll be giving a quiz later. :)

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 29, 2012:

cclitgirl, this is interesting. It's ages since I had a lesson in grammar.

Thanks, I liked this lesson.

Voted up.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

leeba - I'm glad you found this interesting. I appreciate your coming by and commenting. "Me" is happy. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

tammy - well hello there. Me always loves to see you. :) Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed this.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 29, 2012:

ytsenoh - that quiz was fun, no? I stealthily designed it for trickiness. :) Haha. Thank you for stopping by! :)

Leeba Ann Varghese from India on February 28, 2012:

Interesting..and i enjoyed the quiz well........thanks for that great work

Tammy from North Carolina on February 28, 2012:

Me likes this hub very much. Me will bookmark it for I to use later. Thanks. Some of us really need the help. Well done.

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on February 28, 2012:

The quiz was definitely the bonus--good job on that. Very tricky behavior of those two words. Thanks for reminding us the proper usage.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 28, 2012:

Now, Sunshine, I assumed you were doing that on purpose. :D

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 28, 2012:

Ugh I used the wrong word! I meant to say "which makes I happy" :))

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 28, 2012:

Me likes your score. Me loves Sunshine! Hehe. I'm so glad you stopped by. It's always nice to get a Ray of Sunshine headed my way! :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 28, 2012:

Cloverleaf - nice! My English teacher did the same to me. Then, when I learned Spanish, it was drilled further...with reinforcements. :D

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 28, 2012:

Thank you for the brain exercise Cyndi! I needed it! Me got a 80%, when makes I happy :))

Cloverleaf from Calgary, AB, Canada on February 28, 2012:

Woo-hoo! I got 100% in your quiz. I remember back at school that this was a subject drummed into me by my English teacher. I would have been very disappointed if I had gotten any wrong! Thanks for the refresher, Cyndi :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 27, 2012:

Ruchira - ah, no worries. I'm sure you use "I" or "me" correctly every time. :D

Ruchira from United States on February 27, 2012:

Cindi....loved it.

i thought I had my basics cleared but scored only 80% :(

good one!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 27, 2012:

savanahl - I really try to make mundane things seem fun, lol. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such kind comments. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 27, 2012:

I'm glad you found this interesting ap100. :) Now if my students can, too, I'll be good. Thanks for stopping by!

savanahl on February 27, 2012:

Great hub. If only English class would have been this fun. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.

ap100 from India on February 27, 2012:

Interesting one.. Surely little confusing but you explained it well.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 27, 2012:

sen.sush23 - hey there! It's always great to see you! Aw, shucks, thanks for the compliments and votes. I only know grammar so well because I often have to teach it to my students before I can teach them any Spanish. :) Haha. In any case, thank you so much for stopping by!

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on February 26, 2012:

cclitgirl, I don't know what to say. How do you explain these intricate grammatical tricks so easily? Wow! I don't understand grammar, but I know my grammar a little. I think you are such a jolly grammar teacher. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 26, 2012:

Alecia - thanks for reading and commenting. :) Your response is sound - grammatically and otherwise. :D Haha! It's always great to see you.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 26, 2012:

teaches12345 - I'm so glad you found this useful. :) Yes, I regularly watch Seinfeld re-runs, I admit it.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on February 26, 2012:

This is very useful. For the most part I goot most of the quiz right. But in general I try to use action verbs to help clarify which goes where. I hope that was a grammatically sound response!

Dianna Mendez on February 26, 2012:

Thanks for the review on the use of I and me. Your instructions were easy to follow. Your quiz is a great follow-up to the hub learnings (even though I scored 80 -- guess I need to go back and read.). Love your referral of Seinfield's episode on Jimmy. It was an amusing show especially when George started to pick up the habit. Voted up!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 26, 2012:

alocsin - me is glad you don't have a problem. :D Thanks for stopping by!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 26, 2012:

UnnamedHarald - I'm glad you took a peek and that you aced the quiz. I'm thrilled you found this humorous. :)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 26, 2012:

Well, this is something that me never have a problem with. Voting this Up and Useful.

David Hunt from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on February 26, 2012:

An article about grammar? Oh, well, I'll take a peek. Hey this isn't bad. This is good. What?! A quiz? Jeez. Okay, I'll do it. Ha. Aced it. Feelin' good. Voted up, interesting and funny.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 26, 2012:

Hehe, Jacy, you crack me up, as always. :D I love that they're helpful to you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to delve into the realm of religion and philosophy and go find your hubs. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 26, 2012:

Hehe, billy, I would *never* want to embarrass you! :) I'm really glad you thought this was fun. I had this hub in the works for about five days, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to make it funny. Whew! I passed the test. ;)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 26, 2012:

kingmaxler - ha! I'm so glad you liked this. :)

jacy albertson from Oviedo fl on February 26, 2012:

Well, this should be obvious, but, of course, it isn't. I'm printitng out again, & making a book out of your your grammatical hubs

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 26, 2012:

I refuse to take your poll and be embarrassed this early on a Sunday morning. I'll take it later after I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Great hub as always and fun as an added bonus. Good job my friend!

kingmaxler from Olympia, Washington USA on February 26, 2012:

great fun. loved the quiz at the end.

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