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‘I’ or ‘me’?

Choosing whether to use ‘I’ or ‘me’ can be tricky, but it’s something that often pops up in both written and spoken communications, and it’s important to get it right. As the results of our poll shows, it’s not always clear which is the right choice.

Here’s some advice taken from our Better writing section, which offers clear and concise explanations of those trickier points of grammar:

Firstly, it’s important to understand the role ‘I’ and ‘me’ are playing in the sentence. In the following examples, the pronoun ‘I’ is the subject of the verb:

I am going to the cinema

I can’t wait until the weekend

What is a subject?

All verbs have a subject. The subject is generally the person or thing that the sentence is about. It’s often the person or thing that performs the action of the verb in question and it usually (but not always) comes before the verb:

Jonathan ran back.
[subject]
Mark and Jeanette met at college.
[subject]
Gardening is Britain’s most popular pastime.
[subject]

If we were to replace the above examples with pronouns, they would read as follows:

He ran back.
[subject]
They met at college.
[subject]
It is Britain’s most popular pastime.
[subject]

These are all subjective pronouns. As well as he, they, and it, other examples of subjective pronouns are: I, we, she, and you.

By contrast, ‘me’ is an objective pronoun. Other objective pronouns are: us, him, her, you, it, and them. Objective pronouns are used when the pronoun is the object of a verb:

Danny thanked them.

The dog followed John and me to the door.

What is an object?

Some verbs have an object as well as a subject. The object is the person or thing affected by the verb:

Catherine followed Jonathan.
[subject] [object]
He was eating a sandwich.
[subject] [object]

So if Jonathan was explaining to someone that Catherine had followed him, he would say:

Catherine followed me (because ‘I’ is a subjective pronoun and here, ‘me’ is the object of ‘followed’).

If Jonathan was accompanied by a friend, let’s call him Josh, he would say:

Catherine followed Josh and me (Catherine followed Josh and she also followed me).

Although ‘Catherine followed me and Josh’ is also grammatically correct, it’s politer to put yourself second in the sentence.

So which pronoun do you think should be used to replace the question marks in the following sentences: ‘I’ or ‘me’?

Clare and ? are going for a coffee.

The dog followed John and ? to the door.

Rose spent the day with Jake and ?

**Top tip**

An easy way of making sure you’ve chosen the right pronoun is to see whether a sentence referring to more than one person reads properly if the name is removed:

√ Clare and I are going for a coffee √   Clare is going for a coffee +
X   Me am going for a coffee
√ The dog followed John and me √   The dog followed John +
X   The dog followed I
√ Rose spent the day with Jake and me √   Rose spent the day with Jake +
X   Rose spent the day with I

So looking back at our poll, which answer do you now think is correct?