Submitted by saul  •  December 1, 2005

Me vs. I

They have provided no evidence of contacting either Joseph or I.

Did I use “I” correctly?

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Fred = subject
has introduced = verb
Bob and (?) = object

Objective form is me, not I.

I is incorrect. Me is correct here.

As suggested before, if you change the plural from "Bob and I" to just "I", it becomes quite obvious: "...Fred has introduced I..." is wrong. "...Fred has introduced me..." is correct.

The whole sentence should read: "I saw that Fred has introduced Bob and me via email and I would like to follow up by saying that we are extremely excited about working with you, James, and DynaCorp." Also note, "follow up" should not be hyphenated. "Follow-up" is a noun. You want the verb form here (and of course, it's spelled follow, not foolow).

Oh, and just a style comment; The sentence a bit long, a bit of a run-on sentence.

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Is this sentence correct? I saw that Fred has introduced Bob and I via email and I would like to foolow-up by saying that we are extremely excited about working with you, James, and DynaCorp.

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Hey Juju,

Actually, like any grammatical rule, this should be (and is) learned by anyone over the age of 2. If you need to wait until 5th grade to learn the grammar of your native language, then you will probably run into some serious discrimination and prejudice. This is a problem. While I do feel that having some kind of standard form of the language is fine, I also feel that rejecting other forms as the result of uneducation is, well, demeaning.

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Oh My God
I can't believe what I am reading!!!

This is the simplest of rules that should be learned by every person with a 5th grade education. It hurts my ears when i hear "I" being used as the object rather than the subject.

Eva's response, the second one, should have closed this thread as it answers the question completely.

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"What I did say is that being understandable does not make something grammatical, which I think you agree with."

I do agree with that!

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RE: "...It's a very important criterion for grammar. Otherwise what is the point of grammar?"

Perhaps I was not completely clear. I did not say that something that is grammatical need not be understandable.
What I did say is that being understandable does not make something grammatical, which I think you agree with. I think you may then have interpreted it as the converse of what I said (or, at least, what I meant:).

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"Since when is understandability a criterion for proper grammer?"

It's a very important criterion for grammar. Otherwise what is the point of grammar?

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1a "Me arrived safely."
1b "Alice, Tom and me arrived safely."

2a "Please contact I"
2b "Please contact Karen or I."

1b and 2b are more acceptable than 1a and 2a. By "acceptable" I mean they don't sound as wrong, and some speakers do say them. In contrast, no adult native speakers would say 1a and 2a.

You're right that just because someone says something, that doesn't make it grammatical. But lots of people say and understand things like 1b and 2b. That fact has to count for something.

"grammatical" for me means something like "part of the unconscious knowledge a group of speakers possesses about how to use their language." By that definition, it would seem that 1b and 2b are grammatical for some people - or at least that sentences like 1b and 2b are in variation with their more traditionally accepted alternatives for those people.

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Sorry, goofy. The examples you gave are no different than saying "Me arrived safely" or "Please contact I". This isn't some example of pedantic adherence to complex and arbitrary rules. These are the simplest of sentences with nothing more than subject, verb and object. These are simple rules that are taught in kindergarden, no, before, to the typical three year old. Since when is understandability a criterion for proper grammer? Notice I misspelled grammar? You still understood what I wrote didn't you? Does that mean it was spelled correctly? "Me go store." and "Me fall go boom" are certainly understandable, but neither is grammatical. They sound like I'm imitating a cave man or a two year old. I have said myself how grammar evolves through usage, but that doesn't mean that just because someone says something, that it is grammatical.

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OK, how about this:

Our contingent to the convention, Alice, Tom and me, arrived safely.
Please contact Karen or I.

These are acceptable. People say them and understand them. There is no confusion around them. Whether they are "correct", whatever that may mean, is a separate issue.

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No, goofy. Either one is not correct. "I" is correct. ICUUCME, "me" is correct.

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How about this sentence" "Please contact Karen or I/ me
if you have a strong opinion either way."

Should it be:

"Please contact Karen or I if you have a strong opinion either way."

OR

"Please contact Karen or me if you have a strong opinion either way." ???

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either one.

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Our contingent to the convention, (alice, tom and I/Me) arrived safely.
I or ME?

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porsche, I think that is what Justin is suggesting. Certainly "They have provided no evidence of contacting either Joseph or I" doesn't sound completely wrong to me.

As for your discussion of "he is taller than I (am)" - you are applying logic to usage, which does not always work. The fact that we say "he is taller than me" means that "me" is an object here. Whether it "should be" the subject or not is really not the issue.

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Now, let me get this straight, Justin. Are you actually positing that generations of the uneducated incorrectly using "me and John" as the subject of a sentence are causing a backlash of use of "John and I" as the object, and that, as a result of this over-correction, it may be come acceptable?
That's actually kind of interesting. I do agree that in many cases, misuse of "I" is a result of robotic mis-application of "corrected" grammar, in an attempt to seem more literate, but I don't see this as becoming acceptable, or even remotely mainstream any time soon.
Also, regarding the use of "I" in "He is taller than I (am)." Note the verb "to be" is a copulative verb, thus "I" should match case with "he", rather than be treated as an object. I would agree though, that "me" in this case is becoming the norm.

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They have provided no evidence of contacting I.

This is definitely ungrammatical. However

They have provided no evidence of contacting either Joseph or I.

is better. and

They have provided no evidence of contacting either Joseph or myself.
or
They have provided no evidence of contacting either Joseph or me.

are both OK.

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Why does people keep giving the same answer that has been posted already? This is not a voting contest.

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This is from Ronald Wardhaugh's "Proper English: myths and misunderstandings about language":

Whatever a grammar of a language is, it is largely impervious to human intervention. That is, the really interesting rules and principles are so basic that we cannot do anything at all about them. What we can do is try to influence some of the minor outcomes, for example, try to insist that people say I drank instead of I drunk or It's I instead of It's me. Essentialy that is tinkering with matters of no linguistic consequence. To elevate the study of grammar to the task of trying to bring about "correction" in such matters is to trivialize that study. These matters may be of social consequence and often are, but that is a social observation and not a linguistic one, because I drunk and It's me are linguistically on a par with I drank and It's I. Furthermore, it is an observation that tells us much about social organization and the function of trivia in such organization and nothing about the structure of language.

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basically... "I"is the subject form and "me" is the object form. You should be able to pull out the Joseph and have a logical sounding sentence.

They have provided no evidence of contacting I.

That's just plain wrong. The first person pronoun you are looking for is not "I" (subjective) but "me" (objective) simply because the word in question is the object of the prepositional phrase "of contacting [me]."

It's that simple.

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"They have provided no evidence of contacting neither me nor Joseph. Is that right?"

I believe that would be a double negative and incorrect. You must say either "They have provided evidence of contacting neither me nor Joseph" (weak and changes the meaning somewhat) or "They have provided no evidence of contacting either me or Joseph".

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They have provided no evidence of contacting neither me nor Joseph. Is that right?

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Definitely NOT "myself".
"Myself" is used only when the speaker is acting directly on himself. Someone else cannot do something to "myself".

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Adam O -

I think we agree more than you imagine. Remember, my whole *point* was that there is something people mean when they talk about "correct grammar", and I *almost* think your account of it is right. (The difference is niggling--academic papers *often* do not match "Standard American English". It's editors--book editors and high-end [but non-academic] magazine editors especially--that use "Chicago Manual" or "Elements" of Style rigorously. It's not reviewers for academic journals, who generally a] couldn't care less and b] aren't style experts anyway. And even a good editor will know when to ignore "formal grammar" for appropriate effect.)

What I was arguing--admitting, actually, since it was counter to my main point--is that normative linguistic *theory* is dead. Academics, including linguists, don't *study* normative linguistics. What the authors of those style manuals actually do is assemble a range of people whose writing they respect, and *ask* them. It's just a few people--certainly not a scientific sample size. And nobody publishes papers about it; they just write practical manuals.

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What are you talking about Chay? "I" is not correct at all; not in formal English, not in written English, not in spoken English, not in British English, Not in American English, not in International English, not in ANY English. "Joseph or ..." are objects, not subjects. It should be "me" not "I".

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One easy way to see if you have it right is to take out all other people or objects in a sentence. For example, The box was given to George and I. If you take out george you can see it is wrong. The box was given to I. The rule to follow is that if you are the subject of the sentence, then it is I. When you are the object of the subject, it is me. In the example you are the object of the box. Hope that helps

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Depends on the circumstances. The correct (as in formal or written) British construction is 'I', but in spoken British English and in American English 'me' would also be valid.

Odd quirk of grammar. English is full of them. -_o

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That's kind of the point I was making about the register you use being dependent on the audience.

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I'm going to have to disagree with Avrom's suggestion that normative linguistic theory is dead. While he is right in pointing out that "Language isn't a monolithic entity, but a collection of diverse dialects," this does not put us in a position to throw away any notion of Saussure's 'langue.' 'Standard language' is a tricky thing, to be sure, but that does not mean that it does not exist. That which makes a particular form of talk the 'standard langauge' is extra-linguistic and thus illustrates the interdiscipline of sociolinguistics (which, ironically, was a response to prescriptivist structural linguistics by examining language as it is used rather than as it should be used). Why is SAE the standard form of American English? Because those who speak it occupy a particular position within society that allows them to produce and reproduce the "standardness" or SAE which in turn, produces and reproduces their standard (i.e., mainstream) place in society. This is why anyone who tries to have a paper published in Ebonics (a term that could initiate another fascinating and strongly related discussion) or using Appalachian grammar, or anything like that will never be taken seriously in an academic setting. That academic setting is one of the very sites of production and reproduction of the "standardness" of SAE (look at my own writing style--am I being grammatically creative? I want people to read what I'm writing and take me seriously!) However you want to judge this kind of dynamic is up to you, but that it exists and pervades every aspect of our minute-to-minute linguistic choices cannot be denied.
There are other reasons that language can be studied as normative. We can all agree that language is regular. Were it not, it would not serve its communal function. The rules are agreed upon by the community of speakers. If one is to argue that English has no standard form and that we must allow for Ebonics (I'm sorry, I can't stand the term AAVE [African American Vernacular English])--let's say, constructions such as "I be going"--to be considered standard, then one would be arguing a very dangerous and sticky point and that is the unending conundrum of the marginalized community: how do I maintain my identity without marginalizing myself? Instead, I would agrue that the community of Ebonics speakers comprises a speech community unto itself, with its own standard form of talk. It happens that this speech community possesses far less linguistic capital than the non-marginal SAE speech community, an asymmetry that SAE speakers produce and reproduce. Whatever the case, there can still be said to be normative linguistic patterns that pervade any of these speech communities. Those patterns just happen to vary according to the speech community. In this forum, I have to write the way I write in order to be taken seriously. In the inner city, I cannot use this form of talk in order to be taken seriously. It all dapends on who's terf your on.

-adam o

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No. All philosophy aside, using "I" in this sentence is wrong. No disrespect intended to previous commenters. "Me" is correct for this sentence.

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Well, yes. This is, of course, true about *any* linguistic rule. Language isn't a monolithic entity, but a collection of diverse dialects; there's no such thing as "Standard" English (or "standard" any other language, with the possible exceptions of those shaped by government declarations); normative linguistics is dead; etc. etc.

If you read the introduction to a modern style manual, and they're being at all honest, they'll be crammed with caveats like this. And most actual, professional linguists have entirely given up on studying "normative" syntax--the way language "should" be written and spoken--as opposed to the "positive" study of the way it's in fact spoken.

Yet a notion of "correct, formal grammar" does persist, and it's what most people are asking about when they ask questions like the one above. I don't think there's any coherent definition of "correct grammar" that allows "myself" here that doesn't also allow all sorts of things that people would unhesitatingly describe as "mistakes", such as the use of un-conjugated verbs ("I be...") or "fake" compound words ("I do it alot"), all of which have a "history."

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Except that there is a history of 'I' being used as an object, just as it is indisputable that people use 'myself'. In Ireland for example it is very common to say "it is yourself" where other varieties use "it's you".
As with everything, your register depends on your audience. Justin's point about the drumming into schoolchildren of 'I' is very valid. It is in this way that language changes. Thus while some believe it to be wrong, and others right, it's clear that many forms are now available (and acceptable) to us.

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"Myself" is, unfortunately, just plain wrong, and just as wrong as "I". To tell the correct usage here, take out the "either Joseph or" entirely:

They have provided no evidence of contacting I.
They have provided no evidence of contacting me.
They have provided no evidence of contacting myself.

Only the middle option is acceptable, so the correct word is "me".

(Only you can contact yourself; "they" cannot.)

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Answer: me

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Interesting question. However, I wouldn't say that "me" is dying out. There are many constructions in which "I" does not replace it. However, I would say that the grammar, and particularly the grammar of the spoken language, is developing - as it always is.

There is a particular reason why the "John and I" construction is increasingly being used as an object. I believe this is because so many schoolchildren had it drummed into them that you should never say "me and John" (as the subject of a sentence, as in "Me and John went to the cinema."), both because it should be "I" not "me" and because one should always out of politeness mention oneself last. It therefore became ingrained that one doesn't say "me and John", but "John and I" - so this has become, for many people, the standard form, regardless of its position in the sentence.

As a result, I posit that this usage is becoming so common that it might eventually become grammatically acceptable. (Pop songs also have played a part in this. Depending on the rhyme required, "John and me" and "John and I" are both used as objects, with next to no problems, poetic licence and all.)

Another development that argues against the disappearance of "me" is its use in cases where the 'traditional' form has been "I", notably after "than". In the not-so-distant past, many would have been taught that one must say "He is taller than I (am)." rather than "He is taller than me." But the latter form is by far the most common and the former now sounds unnatural (at least to my ears).....

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Although 'me' is 'right', 'myself' feels the most natural, i would say.
But i wonder - is 'me' dying out? People are afraid of 'me' these days. Perhaps we should start using 'I' as the object en masse.

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"Me" is definitely grammatically correct here, as opposed to "I". But the most natural option would be "myself".

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no.
Because if there was no" Joseph".. your sentence would read, " They have provided no envidence of contacting I"
this is wrong.
"They have provided no evidence of contacting either of us" is better. I have never heard "either of we". Are you sure you can say this?

"they have provided no evidence of contacting Joseph or me" should be fine though

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No. Try substituting "us" or "we" for the "or" phrase, then parallel the case. You would say "either of us", not "either of we". Therefore you'll use "me" in the "or" phrase, not "I".

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