I’m going to a writing conference this weekend—Storyline—where I’ll undoubtedly have my spelling and grammar picked apart repeatedly. So I figured I’d get the grammar ball rolling with this commentary by Bill Flanagan on CBS Sunday Morning.
You and I should both be reminded of these grammar rules from time to time. Enjoy! (In case the video doesn’t work for you, I’ve pasted the text below the video.)
Time now for a public service announcement from our contributor and first-person-singular-pronoun policeman Bill Flanagan of VH1:
I know it sounds snobby to point this out, but in the last 10 or 15 years, millions of intelligent English-speaking people have become flummoxed by when to use “I,” and when to use “me.” You hear it all the time:
Are you coming to the movie with Madonna and I?
Won’t you join Oprah and I for dinner?
The Trumps are throwing a party for Barack and I.
At least people who mess up the other way — “Goober and me are going to town” — sound folksy, colloquial, down-to-Earth. But people who say “I” when they should say “me” sound like they are trying to be sophisticated and they’re getting it wrong.
Clearly our grade schools have let us down. So for those of you who missed it the first time, here’s the simple rule:
If you are writing or speaking a sentence with a list of names, including the first person pronoun, and you are not sure whether to say I or me, take out the other names. That will tell you.
“Are you going to the movie with Betty, Veronica and …?”
“Me.” Because you would not say, “Are you going to the movie with I?”
And if it’s “Are you going to the movie with me?” it’s also got to be “Are you going to the movie with Betty, Veronica and me.”
“Curly, Larry and who? are going to jail?”
“Curly, Larry and I are going to jail.” Because you would say “I am going to jail,” not “Me am going to jail.” Unless you are Tarzan. (And very few of us are.)
Okay, that’s all I wanted to say. “I” and “me.” Let’s preserve that one small fragment of our civilization.
And don’t get me started on people who mix up “stomach” and “belly.” That’s a lost cause.