Communication Skills

JS Tip 99: From the Writing Workshops: “I” and “Me.”

Sarah Enders asks, “Since when is it okay to start a sentence with ‘Me and so-and-so’? Has the use of ‘I’ as the subject of a sentence gone the way of chalkboards?”

Short Answer: It’s never appropriate to start a sentence with “Me and so-and-so.”

And, no, the use of “I” as the subject of a sentence hasn’t gone the way of chalkboards.

Long Answer: The problem stems from a loss of literacy (and a corresponding loss of correct grammar). People don’t read as much as they used to, so they don’t see the correct usage.

“I” is always a subject*:

         I took the train.

         I donated $100 million to the Tuna Foundation.

         Sarah and I began the project.

“Me” is always an object**:

         She drove me to the train.

         The Tuna Foundation gave me a receipt for the money.

         Sarah explained the project to me.

One Solution: The problem usually rises when we use multiple subjects (“Me and so-and-so”):

         Me and Sarah began the project.

Just for the sake of identifying the correct word, drop the other subject:

         Me began the project. (Whoa. No. That won’t work.)

         I began the project. (Yes. That’ll work.)

Then add the other subject back into the sentence:

         Sarah and I began the project.

Could you say “I and Sarah began the project”? Sure, but politeness puts Sarah first.                      

If you have questions, let us know. We love this stuff. It’s fun.

Next week, we’ll continue this discussion, but we’ll focus on objects.

Which do you think is correct?  

         She gave the instructions to Sarah and I.

                  or

         She gave the instructions to Sarah and me.

*The subject of the sentence is who or what the sentence is about. It usually comes toward the beginning of the sentence.

**An object in a sentence (not all sentences have objects) is who or what the subject influences, affects, or acts upon. It usually comes later in the sentence.