I, me, myself

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For some reason, people fall over themselves to try to get this right, and end up getting it horribly wrong instead. This is a simple guide to how to tell which pronoun to use correctly – but see the anomaly below.

Myself went to a party. Me had a good time until someone spilt their drink on I.

Yes, it’s total nonsense. You’d never talk like that; but it’s only a natural progression from the confusion over when to use I, me, and myself.
I do things. Things are done to me.
I went to a party. I had a good time until someone spilt their drink on me.

My husband and I went to a party. It’s obvious, when you’ve seen the line, I went to a party; but all too often you’ll see My husband and me went to a party. Who went to the party? My husband and me.
You wouldn’t say me went, so don’t say My husband and me (went).

Similarly, Myself and John went to a party – if you wouldn’t say myself went, don’t drag John into it.

I went to the party by myself.

Simple guide: if you can say us instead, it’s my husband and me. If you can say we, it’s my husband and I.
The car nearly ran over my husband and me (us). My husband and I (we) were nearly hit by the car.
The car nearly ran over me. I was nearly hit by the car.

I am singing in the choir – but Sarah and I are singing in the choir: I am singular, but Sarah and I are plural, and could be replaced by we; and we takes are not am. If you took Sarah out of the equation you’d have to change the verb too, to reflect the change in number.

 Sarah and me aren’t doing anything, because me can’t.

The boys are picking on Kevin and me. If Kevin isn’t there, they’ll still pick on me. It can never be said that the boys are picking on Kevin and I, because if Kevin isn’t there, they won’t pick on I.

Simple guide: if you aren’t sure, take out the Kevin and part and see if it makes sense.

Don’t blame me. Here, the subject of the sentence is the unseen you – what it means is, Don’t you blame me. me is the object, and that is never followed by a verb; me can never do anything –  things are done to me.   

Anomaly alert: Dialogue, colloquialism, or writing in character

Correctly, Who broke the window? isn’t answered by Me, but by I – because it’s verbal shorthand for I did it. However in dialogue,  writing in character or colloquially, this rule can be broken with impunity. Who broke the window? It were me, ma’am –  if the character doesn’t speak good or formal English. Otherwise, I did, ma’am.

(By the way – I didn’t break the window. It was him what done it, ma’am. Honest.)




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About Lorraine Swoboda

Author of Mrs Calcott's Army. I write about the creation of a novel. It's a complete mystery, but I've done it. I also write about the basic building blocks of writing - grammar, punctuation, and those niggling things that you know don't sound quite right but you can't work out why. Writing is 20% inspiration, 40% perspiration, and 40% staring at the screen wondering what I pressed to make it do that.

4 responses to “I, me, myself”

  1. Liz Young says :

    I am itching to print out the entire article in large, bold type and pin it on various walls. So irritating to hear the wrong usage – even my OH does the “Liz and me went” thing but I’m not getting into that argument with hm!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan A Eames says :

    Great post – I love the way you explain things so clearly and concisely.


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