Writing tip: Me or I? Expand the sentence

Writing tip: Me or I? Repeat the starter


People-pairs in a sentence are a grammar trap when one of the people is yourself. Then you might stumble over choosing I or me, we or us.

  • Should you write Paul and I?
  • Or Paul and me?

The answer depends on the sentence.

  • CORRECT: She hugged Paul and me.
  • CORRECT: Paul and I went to town.

Easy trick for using the right word: just expand the sentence so that you repeat the words around each people-word. Then the correct pronoun becomes obvious.

Sometimes you just repeat the starter, as follows.
She hugged Paul and [she hugged] I.
WRONG, so I is wrong in the short version too.
She hugged Paul and [she hugged] me.
CORRECT, so me is correct in the short version too: She hugged Paul and me.

When the people-pair starts the sentence, you just expand the sentence a different way:
Paul [went to town] and I went to town.
CORRECT, so I is correct in the short version too: Paul and I went to town.
Paul [went to town] and me went to town.
WRONG, so me is wrong in the short version too.

Why does this grammatical point trip so many people up? Not because it's difficult but because of the psychology. We feel strongly about the words me and us. We are the centre of our personal world, but we don't want to seem self-centred. I think that's why a phrase like Paul and I sets off alarm bells and makes us trip over the grammar.

At Contented we're more inclined to give you a clever way to dodge the grammar traps than to impress you with words like predicate and transitive verb. Confession: we love Latin and we love these delicious words in all their perephrastic glory, but we don't think they're of any practical use unless you are already a grammar buff.

Painless Grammar is a 1-hour online course that helps you spot the errors you make and fix them. From this tip, you know what to expect.


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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1 Comment

CrestRyder
CrestRyder

March 23, 2013

There is a much easier way to do this: simply eliminate the other person in the sentence. Leave Paul out of it. “I went to town,” not “Me went to town.”
You wouldn’t say “Paul went to town with I,” so “Sam went to town with Paul and me,” because you would say Sam went to town with me." See?

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