When to Say ‘Me,’ Not ‘I’
- On June 28, 2017
Would you ever say Talk to I or Join I?
Of course not.
But something happens when another person, say Mary or John, enters the mix. All of a sudden, you’re not so sure whether me is in fact correct (it is), so you hesitate and—mistakenly—say He talked to Mary and I or Join John and I.
It happened to a well-known executive who posted a moving essay about her father on LinkedIn. I remember listening intently at the dinner table, in the car, or on the front porch, she wrote in her Father’s Day tribute, as he would rock back and forth while talking to my siblings and I.
It happened to a friend whose invitation read Please join David and I for dinner.
The first thing to know—bear with me—is that me is an object pronoun, and I is a subject pronoun. Subjects do the action; objects receive the action.
In my first example, the executive’s father—referred to as he (which, like I, is a subject pronoun)—rocked and talked while his children (the objects) listened. They received the action, which means the author should have written while talking to my siblings and me. (Another tip-off that me is correct is that object pronouns always come after prepositions like to, with, between, and for.)
In the second example—the invitation to dinner—you is the unspoken subject, as in you join us, and David and his wife are the objects. You could say they’re on the receiving end of my company, so my friend should have written Please join David and me for dinner.
Of course, before you write—or speak—you can always just drop the other person in your head, and you’ll hear the right choice in an instant.