Annoyed At: Personal Pronouns

It annoys me when…

i-me-mine 01People, especially people who should know better, use the word “I” when they should use the word “me.” They almost always make that mistake when they are referring to themselves and someone else, like in this sentence:

“Jimmy told Bob and I that he was out of money.”

Now if Jimmy had only told the speaker of this sentence there (probably) wouldn’t be any problem. Hardly anyone would say:

“Jimmy told I that he was out of money.”

Obviously (it is obvious to you, right?), both sentences should use the word “me” instead of “I.” So why the problem when the speaker refers to himself and someone else? My guess is that somewhere around the third grade a teacher was having problems getting students to grasp the difference between subjective pronouns and objective pronouns. In this case, the first person subjective (the subject of the sentence) is “I,” and the first person objective (the object of the sentence) is “me.” So in our example sentence “Jimmy” is the subject, meaning that the speaker and Bob are both objects.

But that teacher in the third grade grew tired of hearing sentences like:

“Me and Bob talked to Jimmy about money.”

In that sentence the speaker and Bob are the subjects, so the pronoun should be “I.” To correct that and instill some sort of sense of selflessness in her students the teacher said something like:

“It’s always ‘Bob and I,’ never ‘me and Bob.’ Always put the other person’s name first.”

A simple rule that fails to explain the difference between the subjective and objective cases and has given rise to even the most educated public speakers getting it wrong.

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