Deciding whether “I” or “me” is correct

There is a really simple way to know whether we should say “I” or “me” when telling of events, but it seems that many people, including folk on television who should know better, do not know this easy  trick. They say things like “Me and Betty went to the concert.” Or “Betty and me went to the concert.” Both are wrong – although one is wrong once, and the other is wrong twice.

Does it matter? Not if you don’t care what is expected of you, or aren’t interested in giving the impression of being an effective communicator. Not if you are “code-switching” and hanging out with people who may mock you as being over-educated, or acting “better than” if you use correct grammar.

On the other hand, if you are trying to give a good impression, if you are being interviewed, if you want whatever you are saying to be heard or read with the focus of attention being on what you are saying, not on how your are saying it, then, yes, it matters. In some situations it can matter a lot!

Unfortunately, many people equate education with intelligence. If your grammar is flawed some people will assume that your education is flawed, and if your education is flawed, then it may be assumed that you are less intelligent than is actually the case. All those assumptions may be false, but if their owner believes them, then that can work against you in one way or another.

What is the trick I mentioned? It’s simple. This problem usually occurs when you are including someone else as well as yourself. If it is just you, unless you are new to the English language, you know that you do not say “Me went to the concert.” There’s your answer! When you wonder which to use, just consider what you would say if Betty (or whoever else) had not gone to the concert with you. You would say “I went to the concert.” That, then, is what you should say even when Betty is with you. Problem solved.

The correct version? “Betty and I went to the concert.”

Did you notice that there was another glitch in the second sentence of this post?

Oh yes – it is a matter of courtesy and respect to put the other person’s name before yours. So “I and Betty went to the concert” is also wrong. The correct version is the one you read just five sentences above.

Those two rules should help us to remember, whether we are speaking on television, writing a term paper, or chatting with a supervisor. how to remove the potential “downgrade” in how they perceive us that can be the result if we poor grammar where correct use is expected!

About Diana Gardner Robinson