Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Grammar Lesson

One of the drawbacks to being an English teacher is that people think I grade their emails or even their conversations. I assure them I do not carry a red pen in my pocket, and now that I have officially left public education, I mention that I've retired the pen. I never want to embarrass someone by pointing out a grammatical mistake, nor do I want people to avoid writing me or talking to me for fear I will judge their grammar! I've seen enough of my own mechanical errors to remain humble.

Having said all that (and truly meaning it!) I am about to risk my reputation by addressing the misuse of I and me. It drives me so nuts I am compelled to blog about it! (Also, I have to write for 10 minutes,)

In elementary school, teachers correct children's "Me and my sister went to the store," by restating it correctly: "My sister and I." By the time that child reaches high school, he/she has morphed that correction into a new rule: "Don't use me."

Thus, we have sentences like this one: My friend gave movie tickets to my wife and I. or She called my wife and I. Would you say, "My friend gave a gift to I?" or "She called I?" Of course not!

So, without boring you with definitions of prepositional phrases, direct objects, and nominative/objective case, I encourage anyone who reads this simply to restate the sentence by using only I or me.

Me and my wife went to the movie. = I went to the movie.
My friend gave movie tickets to my wife and I. = My friend gave movie tickets to me.
She called my wife and I. = She called me.

There! Now I feel better!

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