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How to Decide Whether to Use "I" or "Me" in a Sentence

by Nadine Smith, Demand Media

    In conversation, people often speak sentences along the lines of, “My friend and me went to the same college” or “They are looking for you and I.” However, the grammar in both of these sentences is incorrect. The correct usage of the pronouns “I” and “me” is determined by their function in a sentence. When the pronoun is or refers to the subject of a sentence -- the noun that the sentence is about -- use “I.” When the pronoun is the direct object, the indirect object or the object of a preposition, use “me.”

    Step 1

    Locate the verb in the sentence. An action verb signifies an action, like “jump,” “walk” or “take.” A stative verbs denotes a state of being, such as “are” or “have.”

    Step 2

    Decide if you're referring to yourself as the person who performs an action or receives one. For example, if the verb is “give,” ask yourself if you are doing the giving or if someone else is giving you something.

    Step 3

    Place “I” before the verb if you want to express that you are completing the action. For example, in the sentence “I told her,” “I” belongs before the verb because it represents the person who performs the action.

    Step 4

    Place “me” after the verb if you want to express that someone or something else is completing the action. For example, in the sentence “She told me,” “me” belongs after the verb because it receives the action.

    Step 5

    Use “me” when referring to an indirect object of a verb. In the sentence, “The officer gave me a ticket,” “ticket” is the direct object of the verb “gave” because it is receiving the action of giving. “Me” is not being given; rather, it's receiving the direct object, so “me” is an indirect object. In the sentence “She is going with me,” the verb "going" takes no direct object -- that is, “She is going” is a complete idea by itself. “Me” is neither the subject nor the direct object, and it's not receiving the direct object, so it's not the indirect object either. Instead, "me" is the object of the preposition “with.”

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    Tip

    • All in all, you should only use “I” when referring to the doer of an action or when beginning a sentence. At all other times, use “me.” If you are still confused about when to use “I” or “me,” try placing “me” in front of the verb and see if it makes sense. For example, “Me am going to the game” is not correct; therefore “I” belongs first. In addition, watch out for passive sentences, in which the subject of the sentence doesn't actually perform the main verb, as in “I was given a gift." In this instance, “I” still precedes the verb, so you wouldn't say, "Me was given a gift."

    References

    About the Author

    Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.

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