When Using “You and I” Is Not Correct

Writing Tips, Grammar, and Punctuation

Writing tips, grammar tips, punctuation, writing toolsFrom early on many of us are taught that saying “you and I” is the proper way to form an idea and that “you and me” sounds clumsy and informal. As a rule of thumb, most people just remember to say “I” all the time. Part of this is likely because  we used to say things like “It is I!” Did you know, however, that there are times when doing this is technically incorrect? As awkward as it may seem at first, there are circumstances where “me” is better.

The trick with this pronoun conundrum is to remove the other person from the sentence and ask yourself which pronoun makes the most sense. It’s a grammar rule that may be a little strange to follow at first.

How About Some Examples?

“John and I spent the afternoon fishing,” is correct because if you removed John from the sentence, saying “I spent the afternoon fishing” still makes sense.

“Would you like to come fishing with John and I?” is technically incorrect, because without John you’re asking “Would you like to come fishing with I?” Alone, this sentence obviously must read “Would you like to come fishing with me?” Therefore, in this case the correct usage is “Would you like to come fishing with me and John?”

Can you think of any other examples where the “I” and “me” might be confusing? Share your own grammar and writing tips!

2 Responses to When Using “You and I” Is Not Correct

  1. Matthew Parent September 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    This is the rule that my wife taught me many years ago for keeping the correct usage of “I” and “me” straight. I think things become a bit more confusing when you also need to remove any plurals from the sentence. As an example “John and I are going fishing”. Both “I are going fishing” and “Me are going fishing” sound ridiculous. The trick here would be to change “are” to “am” in which case it’s clear that you should use “I”.
    I can’t think of any counter-examples to this rule but I’m also not sure if it’s correct either. Would it be fair to say use “I” at the beginning of a sentence and “me” at the end?

    • Brian Watkins September 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      Part of the disconnect is narrowing down the actual subject of the sentence. In a sentence like “John and I are going fishing” both John and yourself are the subjects. In “Would you like to go fishing with John and I?” the word you is actually the subject.

      Yeah, you’d adjust “are” or “am” depending on whether the main subject (or subject of the preposition) is singular or plural.

      I could see uses of “I” at the beginning with “me” at the end of the sentence being right, such as “I hate it when they’re mean to me.”

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