When to Use “I” and “Me” in a Sentence

Is it “you and me” or “you and I”? This can be a complex question, even for native English speakers. The difference lies in whether you need to use a subject pronoun or an object pronoun. In this post, we’ll dig into what these pronouns are and how to establish when “I” or “me” is correct in different sentences.

Subject Pronouns vs. Object Pronouns

“I” and “me” are both pronouns. “I” is what we call a subject pronoun, while “me” is an object pronoun. Subject pronouns can take the place of the noun (person, place, or thing) that performs the action in a sentence. These pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we, they, and who. Except in questions, subject pronouns always come before the verb.

I’m going to eat the cookie later. 

In this sentence, “I” is the subject pronoun because that’s who’s performing the action (eating). 

Object pronouns are the receivers of the action in a sentence. They can replace the direct object, indirect object, or object of a preposition in a sentence. These pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, them, and whom. In most cases, object pronouns follow the verb.

She told me to come to the party. 

In this sentence, “she” is performing the action (telling), so this is the subject pronoun; the receiver of the action is “me,” making this the object pronoun. 

“I” or “Me”

As a subject pronoun, “I” is the performer of the sentence. Whether “I eat,” “I run,” or “I sing,” “I” is the one doing it. So, the pronoun to choose for the first-person singular subject in a sentence will always be “I.” 

I went to the park by myself yesterday. 

After the meeting, I got a lot of work done. 

Alyssa and I are going to the gym later. 

“Me” is the object pronoun of a sentence. The subject acts, and “me” receives the action. So, when something happens to the first-person singular object, the pronoun you’ll use is “me.” 

Jackson invited me to play baseball with him. 

What are you going to get me for my birthday? 

The coffee gave me a headache. 

What about when the pronoun comes after a linking verb, such as is, was, or were? Technically, the grammatically correct option is to choose the subject pronoun, but nowadays, this is strictly used in formal contexts.

It was I who left the present on your doorstep. 

This sounds a bit stiff, doesn’t it? “It was me who left the present on your doorstep” seems more natural. In most cases, the object pronoun “me” can be used after the verb “to be.” 

More Than One Subject

Is it correct to say “John and me” or “John and I”? When there’s more than one subject, it can be tricky to decide whether “I” or “me” is correct. But there’s a simple strategy to figuring this one out. Just delete the first subject, conjugate the verb accordingly, and read the sentence again. The answer will be as clear as day. 

John and I are going to the movies. 

Me is going to the movies. ✘

I am going to the movies. ✔

Please bring some water to the table for Alice and me. 

Please bring some water to the table for I. ✘

Please bring some water to the table for me. ✔

Becoming an Editor

If you’re good at catching grammatical mistakes like incorrect usage of subject and object pronouns, you might have just what it takes to become a professional editor. To explore this career and learn more about the intricacies of grammar, check out our Becoming An Editor course. Try it out for free today! 

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