Annals of Grammar

A faithful reader from Vermont writes:

You are too smart a guy to keep using “I” instead of “me.” Twice today pushed me over the grammatical edge.

I presume the error in question is phrases like “He’s driving Oliver and I…” Here’s a good explanation of the error, in part:

The first person singular pronoun is “I” when it’s a subject and “me” when it’s an object…

In other words, my error was this: in the sentence above, it is “He” (Dad) who is the subject, and Oliver and I [sic] who are the objects — it is Dad’s manipulation of us that is being discussed.

So while I might say “Oliver and I are driving Dad to the airport,” I should say “He’s driving Oliver and me to the airport.”

That all said, if you’re coming here expecting a grammatical paradise, you’re in the wrong place: I’m strongly on the “as long as you understand me, it’s all okay” side of the grammar wars, and those of the “it’s the end of civilized society when we start using ‘I’ where we should use ‘me’ ” don’t hold much stock in my world.

That all said, thanks to my helpful correspondent for pointing out the error of me ways.


Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on December 21, 2005 - 21:48 Permalink

I always find the simplest test is to remove the other object from the sentence and see if it still makes sense. For example, by removing “Oliver and” from the sentence, it becomes obviously incorrect: “He’s driving I….”

Rob MacD's picture
Rob MacD on December 22, 2005 - 00:57 Permalink

I’ve been reading your site for a long time, Peter, and have had to stop myself many times from being so anal as to correct your usage of “and I” instead of what’s correct. Today’s “Oliver and I” was yet the latest in stymied replies from I.

Kevin O'Brien's picture
Kevin O'Brien on December 23, 2005 - 15:41 Permalink

I have always tried to use good grammer, written and spoken, and it does sting a little when someone clobbers me on a gaff but I’m moving toward your sense of things, P, because I’ve discovered this language is as plyable as putty and that includes the grammer. Y’know, when Shakespear needed a word he made it up — hundreds of times. Your’s is among the most readable prose on the net. Nevermind the chaff, it’s always in the wind.