I or Me?

Mar 18, 2019 | Posted by Jennifer


In our quest to use proper, formal grammar, we may sometimes actually create a grammar faux pas. Such may happen when using the pronouns I and me. For example, take a look at the snippet of a business communication below:

Dear Mr. Jeffers:

We have received your job application, and our human resources department is reviewing it presently. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Ronald Davidson or I at the toll free number listed on our website.

It sounds correct, but is it? Not quite. Rather than use the word I, which sounds more formal than me, the correct word choice in this example is actually me.

It comes down to pronoun case. I is a subjective (a.k.a. nominative) pronoun. In other words, I must function as the subject of the sentence.

I like to eat fresh-baked bread. (I is the subject.)

When I eat fresh-baked bread, I slather butter all over my slice. (I appears as the subject of both the dependent clause and independent clause.)

By contrast, the word me only appears in the objective (a.k.a. accusative) case. That means it can be found in the position of direct object, indirect object, or object of the preposition. Just as in the first example, where I was used instead of me in the direct object position, we can accidentally make the same mistake when we try to insert the correct pronoun into a prepositional phrase. Sometimes we err on the side of trying to sound more formal, which is actually incorrect.

Incorrect Usage:

She brought along a lovely loaf of hot-baked bread, which she shared with Emma and I.

        Correct Usage:

She brought along a lovely loaf of hot-baked bread, which she shared with Emma and me. (Me is the object of the preposition that begins with the word “with.”)

One of the easiest ways to check whether you’ve got the correct pronoun is to simply remove the first party mentioned in the prepositional phrase. Doing this makes the sentence read as follows: She brought along a lovely loaf of hot-baked bread, which she shared with me. It’s much easier to recognize that the correct pronoun is me when we remove Emma and, isn’t it?

So, what does this tell you? Relax! Oftentimes our ears naturally select the correct word without us consciously noticing it. If you are in the position of writing a formal letter or email, go ahead and write it out, but before you send it off into the mailbox or through the ether of the Internet as the case may be, give it a quick proofread and verify you have your I’s and me’s straight, double checking for any “stuffy” I’s in the objective position. It’s a quick and easy fix that will lend credence to your communication.

To learn even more about correct usage, pronouns, and all sorts of other fun grammar constructions, check out Fix It! Grammar. In each level there is a comprehensive Grammar Glossary that will help you shore up your grammar and usage in no time! Between you and me, I think we’ve got this grammar faux pas fixed for good!


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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