When to Use I or Me

By eContent Pro on Jan 15, 2017
When to Use I or Me

If you are trying to determine whether to use I or me in a sentence, we have some advice to help you not only know which one to use, but also to understand why it should be used. What it boils down to is identifying if I or me will be part of either the subject or object of the sentence. Let’s take a look at an example of each one:

Use I in the Subject of a Sentence

The subject of a sentence is what is performing an action.

“My friend and ___ are going for a walk.”

We can identify the highlighted portion of this sentence as the subject because of its relation to the action: walk. If we ask “Who is going for a walk?” i.e., who is performing the action of walking, the answer would be “My friend and ___,” making it the subject.

Now that we know we’re forming the subject of the sentence, we need to complete it by using a subjective pronoun. Since I is a subjective pronoun, we would use I.

My friend and I are going for a walk.

Complete list of subjective pronouns: I, you, we, he, she, it, we, and they.

Use Me in the Object of a Sentence

The object of a sentence is what an action is directed towards.

“The fitness instructor is going for a walk with my friend and ___.”

We can identify the highlighted portion of this sentence as the object in a similar way to how we identified the subject in the previous example. We can start by identifying the action: walk, and again asking: “Who is going for a walk?” In this case, the answer would be “The fitness instructor,” which makes “The fitness instructor” the subject of the sentence. If we now ask “Who is the fitness instructor going on a walk with?” i.e., who is the walk directed towards, the answer would be “my friend and ___,” making it the object.

Now that we know we’re forming the object of the sentence, we need to complete it by using an objective pronoun. Since me is an objective pronoun, we would use me.

The fitness instructor is going on a walk with my friend and me.

Complete list of objective pronouns: Me, you, us, him, her, it, and them.

Choosing I or Me in Complex Sentences

The previous examples were fairly straight forward, but what do you do when there are multiple actions, and it’s not obvious what the subjects and objects of those actions are?

“If you would like someone to walk with, ask my friend or ___.”

This sentence may be a bit trickier than the others because we have two actions, walk and ask, but only one subject, you. Let’s break the sentence up into two parts. First:

“If you would like someone to walk with,”

No issues here. The action walk corresponds to the subject you, but what about the second part:

“ask my friend or ___.”

What is the subject for ask? Hint: It’s not “my friend or ___.” To find out, we just need to fall back on what we previously learned and ask ourselves “Who will be performing the action of asking?” which tells us the subject is you. Even though you isn’t repeated in this part of the sentence, it’s still referring to the first mention of you since that’s who will be performing the action of “asking.” Now, we can ask ourselves “who is the asking being directed towards?” which identifies the object as “my friend or ___.”

Now that we know we’re forming the object of the sentence, we can use the objective pronoun me.

“If you would like someone to walk with, ask my friend or me.”

Using the “What Sounds Better?” Trick

Another quick way to help confirm you’re making the correct decision between I or me is to remove one of the pronouns.

Pronouns are similar to nouns, and are used to avoid repetition. For example, in this sentence, John is the noun:

John was tired, so John went to bed.”

Repeating John’s name doesn’t sound very nice, so we can substitute the second occurrence with an appropriate pronoun: he.

John was tired, so he went to bed.”

Now that we know how to identify pronouns, let’s take another look at the previous Subject and Object examples to see how the “What Sounds Better?” trick can be applied:

“What Sounds Better?” in the Subject

“My friend and ___ are going for a walk.”

The pronouns in this sentence are friend and ___. Let’s remove friend, along with its possessive pronoun, my. Since we are now referencing only one person instead of two, the primary auxiliary, are, which is plural, no longer makes sense, so we’ll need to clean that up by replacing it with the singular form: am. This leave us with:

___ am going for a walk.”

Now, all we need to do is plug in I and me to see what makes more sense:

I am going for a walk.”

Me am going for a walk.”

The clear winner here is “I am going for a walk.”

“What Sounds Better?” in the Object

“The fitness instructor is going for a walk with my friend and ___.”

Just like the last example, the pronouns in this sentence are friend and ___. Cleanup will be simpler here since we don’t have a primary auxiliary to bother with. All we need to do is remove “my friend and” leaving us with:

“The fitness instructor is going for a walk with ___.”

Now, we can plug in I and me again to see what makes more sense:

“The fitness instructor is going for a walk with I.”

“The fitness instructor is going for a walk with me.”

Me sounds much more natural, which makes our second option the better (and also correct) choice: “The fitness instructor is going for a walk with me.”

Final I or Me Considerations

Identifying the subject and object of a sentence, or using the “What Sounds Better?” trick can be effective ways to know when to use I or me. If you find you’re working with a sentence where using these methods isn’t as straightforward as the examples given here, it may be an indication of grammatical problems, and you may want to consider restructuring your sentence.

If you ever find that you’re running into issues or are unsure about any grammatical details in your writing, let us help. At eContent Pro, we have trained, professional copy editors who can fully resolve all issues with your writing. They will identify and correct mistakes that go far beyond the simplicity of I or me usage, and will ensure your writing is grammatically sound, across the board, from start to finish. Learn more about out copy editing and proofreading services.

Upload Your Document Now
Posted in:
Join Our Newsletter
Receive new blog post updates
Subscribe
eContent Pro Services