Have you ever been confused about whether to use "I" or "me" when referring to yourself? Read below and be confused no more!
Are you the subject or the object?
|Subject or object?|
|Use "I" if you are the subject of the sentence|
|Use "me" if you are the object of the sentence|
To put it simply, are you the person doing the action (subject) or are you the person being acted upon (object)? Look at the verb of the sentence and see who is performing the verb.
I said "hello" to Hugo.
I am the person doing the action (i.e. performing the verb 'said'), therefore
I am the subject of the sentence.
Hugo said "hello" to me.
The verb 'said' is acting upon me, hence I am the object of the sentence.
Similarly, for third person pronouns:
Compound Subject and Object
The rule does not change when you have multiple subjects and objects - i.e. when there is more than one noun or pronoun.
Subject: Nick and I need to have a chat to Craig about his mustache.
Object: Craig chatted to Nick and me about his mustache.
Sometimes compound subjects and objects hide the incorrect usage as the sentence may sound correct due to it being the first of the multiple nouns or pronouns. See the examples below:
- Craig chatted to I. (incorrect)
- Craig chatted to Nick. (correct)
- Craig chatted to Nick and I. (incorrect)
You can easily recognize that sentence 1 is awkward. However, because sentence 2 is correct, it makes sentence 3 sound like it may be correct despite you being the object of the sentence.
Tip: take out other nouns or pronouns (i.e. only keep "I" or "me") to check whether you are using the correct nouns/pronouns.
e.g. "I went to the shops" (c.f. "me went to the shops") is correct, hence "Nick and I went to the shops" is correct.
As it is polite to refer to yourself last in a group (i.e. "Hugo, Craig and me" rather than "me, Hugo and Craig" - manners maketh man!), people often confuse the usage of "I" and "me" when it is being used as a compound object.
e.g. "Hugo and me had lunch at midday" sounds awkward as "Me had lunch at midday" is incorrect, and this error can be picked up more easily than above example of "Craig chatted to Nick and I".
Therefore, it is important that you bundle the nouns or pronouns together and see whether it is being used as a subject or the object of the sentence.
To whom it may concern
The rules apply just the same for "who" and "whom".
|Subject or Object|
|Who -> Subject|
|Whom -> Object|
A: It was Hugo who won the 400m race. (Hugo is the subject)
B: It was Hugo whom the 400m race nearly killed. (Hugo is the object)
In A, Hugo is the one that won the 400m race. Whereas in B, it is the 400m race that nearly killed Hugo - Hugo is now the object of the sentence.
Prepositions and "be" words
If it follows a preposition (see examples below!), then you use the object form. Whereas if it follows one of the "be" words, then you traditionally use the subject form (though it may sound a bit old fashioned - e.g. "It is I").
Note: Though "I" is the correct term after a "be" word, in modern usage, no one will bat an eyelid if you use "me" - e.g. "it was me"
|over||under||in front of||behind|
You will first have to go through me.
This letter was intended for her.
Do you know near whom Craig is sitting at Nick's wedding?
I really thought it was I.
Genevieve is lifting more than him in the gym.
A final word
The most important thing is to look at the verb of the sentence and who is performing that verb. Once you have that sorted, then you can use correct pronouns all the time!