When to Use ‘I’ or ‘Me’

One of the hardest grammar questions for many people is whether to use “I” or “me” in a sentence. And what about using “myself” instead of (or in addition to) “I” or “me”?

The grammar rule is that you should use “I” when the word you are using is the subject of the sentence and you should use “me” when the word is the object of the sentence. However, if you never had to diagram a sentence, remembering the difference between the subject and object may be a challenge. So here is an easier way to know when to use “I” and when to use “me.”

Most of us do not have any problem figuring out whether to use I or me when we are the only ones in the sentence. By that, I mean that we generally do not get confused about which of the following is correct:

“I went to see a movie today.”
“Me went to see a movie today.”

The problem comes when someone else horns their way in to our sentence:

“Sharon and I went to see a movie today.”
“Sharon and me went to see a movie today.”

So which is correct? Go back to the first example. If, “I went to see a movie today,” is correct then, “Sharon and I went to a movie today,” is also correct.

A simple way to determine if you should use “I” or “me” is to take the other person out of the sentence.

How about this one:

“Sharon talked to John and me.”
“Sharon talked to John and I.”

A lot of people would choose the second sentence, because they are afraid of sounding stupid by using “me.” However, when you take John out of the sentence, you would say, “Sharon talked to me.” Right? That means that, “Sharon talked to Johnand me,” is correct.

So maybe we could just avoid the whole problem by using “myself” instead of “I” or “me.” Well, no. “Sharon and myself went to a movie today,” is just plain wrong. As is, “Sharon talked to Johnand myself.”

Now, let’s get a little trickier. Which of the following is correct:

“Tom wants money more than me.”
“Tom wants money more than I.”

Well, I warned you that this was a trick question. In this case either could be correct, depending on your meaning. Expand the sentence to determine which is the correct usage. The first sentence means:

“Tom wants money more than he wants me.

The second sentence means:

“Tom wants money more than I do.

If adding a word such as “am” or “do” completes the sentence, than “I” is the correct choice. For example: “Sandra speaks better than I.” Feel a little pretentious ending a sentence with “I”? You may add “am” or “do”: “Sandra speaks better than I do.” However, the “do” is unnecessary.

You might use “myself” for emphasis, or when you have already used “I”, such as, “I washed the car myself,” or “I drove myself to the hospital.” In general, do not use “myself” immediately after “I,” such as, “I myself believe this sentence is wrong.” It’s not needed.

Cathy Stucker writes about marketing, blogging, publishing and more at IdeaLady.com and CathyStucker.com. Sign up for her free IdeaLady Insider newsletter at http://IdeaLady.com/article/newsletter.