My writing is far from perfect. I make mistakes all the time. The typos I generate—the grammatical errors, the misspellings, the malapropisms, all of it—could fill a whole wall of shelves if they were printed up and bound.
My one saving grace is that if I catch a mistake, or if someone points one out to me, I will usually correct it. If I find a better way to say something, I go ahead and revise. It’s a throwback to my college years when I seriously studied literature and writing; every now and then the editor in me comes out.
Well, the teacher in me decided long ago that the editor in me has more than a few things to share with everyone, writers especially, which explains forum postings like Minimizing the Redundancy of He from a year and a half ago… and this post today.
Which is correct?
Susi took Jeff and me to lunch.
Susi took Jeff and I to lunch.
Take your time and think a bit. A lot of people get this wrong, even some really good writers, writers you and I read online and off, writers you and I like a lot, writers with actual books in print, and writers who sell many of those books. Yes, those writers. They get this wrong, too.
If you chose the first one you are awesome, and I love you. That is the proper way to write.
If you chose the second one, you’re forgetting one of the most basic lessons in grammar—the difference between a subject pronoun and an object pronoun. It may sound right, but it isn’t, and here’s why….
A subject pronoun is any one of the following: I, you, he, she, it, we, and they. These words usually—not always—happen in the beginning of a sentence. They make the action happen; they act out the verb.
An object pronoun, on the other hand, is acted upon by the subject. These are words like me, you, him, her, it, us, and them. They never do things; things happen to them. Or, more cleverly put:
They make things happen, but things happen to them.
Now, what makes “Susi took Jeff and I to lunch” incorrect? Easy. Remove the other person, Jeff, from the equation, and what do you have?
Susi took I to lunch.
See why it’s wrong?
Susi took me to lunch.
Susi took Jeff and me to lunch.
The same goes with sentences that use words like with, from, about, etc. It might sound good to say:
With Eve and I insisting that he try it, Adam bit into the apple.
You can win ten million dollars from Dick and I.
Juliet already knew about Romeo and I having an affair.
But they’re wrong. Wrong, I tell you! Remove the other person, and the I sounds totally out of place. You can win ten million dollars from I? Not likely. Never, in fact. I just don’t have that kind of money; me neither, come to think of it. Try these instead:
With me insisting that he try it, Adam bit into the apple.
With Eve and me insisting that he try it, Adam bit into the apple and broke his damn teeth on the optical mouse.
You can win ten million dollars from me.
You can win ten million dollars from Dick and me. -Ed McMahon
(Read that one aloud. It sounds dirty.)
Juliet already knew about me having an affair.
Juliet already knew about Romeo and me having an affair; hell, that’s why she killed herself.
So that’s your lesson of the day in Deadly Wordplay. Now I’ll go take myself to the bed with the cat and me because, myself and I, we have a headache that won’t go away.
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