When to use ‘I’ and when to use ‘me’

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When do you use ‘I’ and when do you use ‘me’?

It’s a deceptively tricky question, but I’ll bet even you have trouble with it sometimes!

The question is this: when do you use ‘I’ and when do you use ‘me’?

Generally, we don’t tend to have much trouble when the only person in the sentence is just you, like:

  • I wanted to buy the pony but didn’t have anywhere to put it.

or

  • It took me three months to build the stables.

We wouldn’t say ‘me wanted to buy the pony…’ or ‘it took I three months…’, would we? (Hope not!)

The trouble starts when you add another person or two into the mix.

Consider these sentences:

  • Rosalie and I went to the skate park
  • Rosalie and me went to the skate park

Which one is correct?

Or:

  • Give it to Anatoly and me!
  • Give it to Anatoly and I!

So, how do we know which one is correct? Try the following trick.

Quite simply

Remove the other person from the conversation! If you would then use ‘I‘ or ‘me‘, that’s the right one. Would you say:

  • Give it to Anatoly and me!

or

  • Give it to Anatoly and I!

We say: Give it to me! (but hopefully with a please!)

Try again:

  • Rosalie and I went to the skate park

or

  • Rosalie and me went to the skate park

It’s easier to say it aloud if you’re struggling – you’ll probably say it instinctively.

We would say: went to the skate park.

And it’s as easy as that! But if you’d like to dive into it deeper…

Let’s get technical!

Here’s some grammar you’ll need:

Subjective case:

The form of nouns (words that name something) and pronouns (words that take the place of a noun to avoid repeating them) when they are playing the part of the subject of a verb (an action word) within a sentence.

When a sentence is in the subjective case, you use ‘I‘ when referring to yourself.

Objective case:

The form of nouns and pronouns when they are playing the part of the object of a verb within a sentence.

When the sentence is in the objective case, you use ‘me‘ when referring to yourself.

So…

Let’s stay with you and Rosalie at the skate park, but we’ll add Gus into the mix.

Is it:

  • Rosalie, Gus and me went to the skate park.

or

  • Rosalie, Gus and I went to the skate park.

In this sentence, you, Rosalie and Gus are all the subjects – equally. Because they are all names of people, they are nouns. Because the nouns of the sentence are the subjects of the verb ‘went’ (i.e., ‘you, Rosalie and Gus’ are the ones going), the sentence is written in the subjective case. Therefore, you would use ‘I‘.

  • Rosalie took Gus and me to the skate park.

or

  • Rosalie took Gus and I to the skate park.

In this sentence, ‘took’ is the verb, ‘Rosalie’ is the subject and ‘Gus and you’ are the objects because you are the objects of the verb – you are the ones being taken.

I know, it’s confusing because all three people are nouns. But now we have split them up into groups – ‘Rosalie’ who is doing the action, and ‘you and Gus’ who are having the action done to you. We need to look at ‘Gus and you’ as the ‘things’ Rosalie is taking to the skate park, making you objects (lovely, right?). Because you and Gus, as nouns, are the objects of the verb, the sentence is written in the objective case. And because the sentence is written in the objective case, you must use ‘me‘.

So, head over to the story contest and try out your new skill!

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