Grammar Minute: With I or With Me?

All too often you have you probably heard someone say, for example, “He agreed to go to the game with you and I.” I call this Soap Opera speak, because daytime dramas seem to be where this incorrect usage became popular. (Yep, it’s writers’ fault.)

“With” in the example above is a preposition. Prepositions call for objective forms of pronouns. What is the objective form? Simple. A “subject” of a sentence does something. An “object” has something done to it.

Subject Pronouns: I, we, he, she, they, who

Object Pronouns: me, us, him, her, them, whom

Let’s look at another example. “Joe gave the pizza to Bob and I.” Uh, no he did not. Joe is the subject (giving the pizza) to “Bob and me” whom are the objects of Joe’s generous giving.

There are a couple of quick rules to remember. If the pronoun follows a preposition (to, with, for, of, by, from, plus around 90 others) then use the objective form. “With blank and I” will always be wrong. “From blank and I” will also always be wrong.

Another simple way to remember is by substituting us or we. If you can correctly substitute “we” it’s subjective and “I” will be correct. If “us” sounds correct, then use “me.”

“Sam is coming for us.”  (objective)
Sam is coming for Jim and me.”

“We are going.” (subjective)
“Groucho and I are going.”

Please note that embedded above is another common mistake – using “who” when “whom” is required. Whom is an object pronoun, and should be used in the same instances as me, him, or them. It’s harder to pick up from speech, simply because almost everyone uses who in all cases. However, it follows the same rules as above.

Correct: “I do not know who is coming.”
Correct: “To whom should I give this?”
Incorrect: “Do you know who you are talking to?” (You is the subject, doing the talking. Whom is the person the talking is being done to.)

Correct: “Do you know whom you are talking to?”

So next time someone asks you, “Do you know who you are talking to?” Answer, “Yes, someone with horrible grammar.” They’ll still pop you in the mouth, but at least you’ll feel superior afterward.

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