Tag Archives: grammar

Don’t be afraid of ‘me’

And the answer is? (Courtesy Merriam-Webster)
And the answer is?                                                                                                               (Merriam-Webster.com)

What is it about “me” that confuses people?

Most people know better than to say or write something like “Mike and me are going to a hockey game tonight.” They know that “me” is the wrong pronoun to use when it’s the subject of a sentence.

But it’s funny how so many people get tripped up on the other end of a sentence, when the pronoun is the object.

All too often, I see posts on blogs and especially on social media in which the writer says something like “Joe came to the hockey game with Mike and I.” Or, the writer cops out with “Mike and myself.”

Many very smart, well educated people do it. In a debate the other night, our incumbent U.S. senator referred to an issue that she said illustrated the difference “between my opponent and I.” Immediately, a colleague and I yelled “ME!”

If you ever worry about whether you’re using the right pronoun, here’s the simple test: If you’re writing about two people, test by leaving out the other person.

As the subject:
WHICH IS IT:”Joe and ___ are going to the game”.
WOULD YOU SAY: “Me is going”? I hope not. Nor would you say “Him (or her) is going.”
SO THEN: “Joe and I (or ‘he’ or ‘she’) are going.”

Same thing on the other end, as the object:
WHICH IS IT:”Come to the game with Mary and ____.”.
WOULD YOU SAY: “Come to the game with I”? Doubt it.
SO THEN: “Come to the game with Mary and me.”

I think as kids, most of us were corrected (maybe fairly strenuously) for misusing “me” as the subject — “Larry and me were hunting for frogs down by the creek” — which left us insecure about whether it was ever safe to use it.

Well, it is. Time to rise above the trauma of third-grade English class!

Oh, and take a stab at the question in the image at the top of the post. Don’t be bashful;  it’ll be just between you and me.

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Prepositional problems

editing

From a  major New England newspaper (OK, from its website): “A man was injured Monday after a crash on I-95”.

Therein is one of those writing errors found far too often in news stories and headlines these days: problematic prepositions.

The man wasn’t injured AFTER the crash, unless by some horrible stroke of bad luck he managed to get out of his mangled car, only to get smacked by another vehicle, or, less dramatically, to trip over a hunk of crash debris.

No, sadly, he was injured IN the crash. “After” implies a delay, and in 99 percent of the stories in which this construction is found, the injury is caused by the accident, not by a subsequent event.

Same thing with “killed”: The victim might have died after the crash, but he probably wasn’t killed after it.

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