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me or I

A group of us were discussing the use of “me” and “I”. Which of these sentences is correct? “My mother bought some sweets for me and my sister.” or “My mother bought some sweets for my sister and I.” thanks for your help in advance.

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This one's mildly tricky for people learning English as a second language.

Logic says 'me', since you're the indirect object of the sentence. Usage, however, says 'I' - as native speakers have no doubt been told many, many times.

Persephone Imytholin April 27, 2005, 5:24am

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I'll have to disagree here. Usage says to always use 'I' for the subject and 'me' for the object. The second example is just plain wrong and is usually a sign of someone trying to sound smart. :) As for the first example you should probably put 'me' after 'my sister', it's slightly more polite.

IngisKahn April 27, 2005, 6:14am

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Usage, possibly based on early hypercorrection, says that where a pronoun is used with other nouns or pronouns as the object of a sentence, then it's used in the nominative rather than objective form.

That's English for you. Daft as a brush, but very ravenous.

Persephone Imytholin April 27, 2005, 3:37pm

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I completely agree with IngisKahn. Anyone who says "for my sister and I" clearly is trying to sound smart while only demonstrating their ignorance. This is one of my biggest pet peeves.

While I'm on this topic (and I know it's only slightly related), I may as well rant about the similar misuse of "myself," which should never be used as a subject and only sometimes used as an object when the subject is "I." For example, these sentences are wrong:

"John and myself had a great time yesterday."
"Our teacher gave the papers to John and myself."
"If you have any questions, feel free to ask any of the staff, myself included."

This sentence demonstrates the correct use:

"I hurt myself."

While this egregious mistake is not heard nearly as often as the "for me and I" and all its wonderful variations, it is still commonly used when a person is trying to sound especially formal. It also bugs the hell out of me.

Always remember--as Red Smith said, "'Myself' is the refuge of idiots taught early that 'me' is a dirty word."

lamont2718 April 27, 2005, 3:59pm

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Oh, and to Persephone Imytholin:

Could you please direct me to a site where I could find the rule that you cited? I don't think I've ever heard of it before.

lamont2718 April 27, 2005, 4:03pm

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Upon perusal of the OED, I found this definition of the pronoun "I."

"Sometimes used for the objective after a verb or preposition, esp. when separated from the governing word by other words.
This was very frequent in end of 16th and in 17th c., but is now considered ungrammatical."

I think that's pretty clear.

lamont2718 April 27, 2005, 4:18pm

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I was told when I was little that the easy way to remember is that if you would say "my mother bought some sweets for me" then you say "my sister and me". if you were saying "I bought some sweets" then its "my sister and I etc."- just use what you would if you were on your own (and of course always put the other person first ;)
I don't know all the proper rules but this has always served me well.

charlie-parry April 29, 2005, 8:29am

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This is an easy way to remember how to use "I" and "Me"; you're supposed to say it like if it was to be said without the "my sister" part so like "my mother brought some sweets for me." because "my mother brought some sweets for I." does not make sense. It would only be "my sister and I" if you were carrying out the verb. Thats how most native speakers are taught to avoid compication in school.

nikki April 29, 2005, 9:18pm

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While we're trading secrets for corruct usage, here is mine. Replace replace the the phrase "my sister and I" with "we" and "my sister and me" with "us". For some reason it's much easier to hear the correct usage.

"My mother bought some sweets for we."
"My mother bought some sweets for us."

Ben Lyons May 2, 2005, 7:20am

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Correct: "My mother bought some sweets for my sister and me."

Eric from Australia May 19, 2005, 8:25am

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It depends on what you mean by "correct." If you mean what is right according to grammar rules, then several others have already posted the "correct" answer, which is what I was taught in school, namely,

"My mother bought some sweets for my sister and me."

Here is what I was taught:

1. When a pronoun is the object of a preposition, which we have in the word "for" here, use the objective case which would be "me" for the first person singular pronoun.

2. Put the other person's name before your own to show that you are being polite.

Now, as to what is truly "correct," that is open to debate. I still cringe when I hear English speakers using the nominative case after a preposition, as in

"My mother bought some sweets for my sister and I."

But many, many native, fluent English speakers are talking and writing this way these days. They do it automatically. They are not using the nominative case to make some social statement. It is simply that English language usage for pronouns is changing. If enough English speakers adopt this new usage, eventually there will be few speakers left who still follow the pronoun rules I was taught. Then a shift will take place where those who say what is "correct" and incorrect usage will have to give up and accept the new usage, just as strict grammarians eventually had to give up requiring people to use different pronouns for second person singular and plural, such as "thee" and "ye."

Descriptive linguists, who do not advocate sloppy speech, would say, in this case, that usage determines what is correct or not. Most English teachers disagree with them. If you associate with people who no longer use the objective form of pronouns after a prepositions, you need to be aware that you may be perceived by them to be "uppity" if you use the form taught by prescriptive grammarians. If you don't mind being perceived as "uppity", and, in fact, take pride in using "correct" speech then use the forms taught by English teachers. Just be aware that usage of some language forms does create some social perceptions that we may not intend.

wayneleman May 26, 2005, 5:19pm

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Those who advocate or use "My mother bought some sweets for my sister and I", would you then say "My mother bought some sweets for I [and my sister]"? My guess is not, which I think is showing the incorrect usage of 'I'.

slemmet May 27, 2005, 3:22am

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"I" is only used as the subject of a sentence. "Me" is only used as an object. No exceptions. People say "I" in that case all the time, probably more than they say "me", but they are wrong. I speak perfect English and that doesn't even come natural... that's one of the ones that you can say wrong without noticing. But "me" is correct, "I" is not.

Anonymous June 17, 2005, 2:01am

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Which is correct.

You are like me.

You are like I.

I say the second one is correct. but it's been bugging me. Or should I say, bugging I?



gpollitt December 6, 2005, 11:45am

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it's "my mother bought some sweets for my sister and me"

it sounds weird.. and nobody probably uses it this way.

what i learned to do is to take out the "my sister and" part (basically just take out the other person) so you get "my mother bought some sweets for me"

that way you can distinguish what makes more sense, I or me (in this case me).

Kyle Longhi December 14, 2005, 4:30pm

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Has noone noticed that people have accepted the "me first" school of grammar? All your comments about the nominative and objective case of the first person and noone seems to have noticed that people today constantly say; "ME AND THE WORLD" - which we know is incorrect. One of your writers even uses it as an example i.e. "Would you ever say I and my sister?" Geez!

Could you kindly forward the correct rule of grammar that clearly states; "OTHER PEOPLE FIRST" please?

Thank you.

Ginny December 16, 2005, 8:22am

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what if, for instance, you were to say "John and I at a dance" in refering to a picture
or would you say

John and Me at a dance

cathyforney December 18, 2005, 2:59pm

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Cathy, this is a difficult question to answer. "John and Me at a dance" is not a full sentence, just a fragment. There is no verb. I would think "me" would be more likely, since you are labelling the picture. I would assume the implied sentence would be something like "This is a picture of John and me at a dance."

Anonymous December 19, 2005, 11:18am

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I was told if you are refering to an action like, running for instance, you would use "I".
"Jake and I were running." (Always listing the other person first).

If you are talking about a picture... you would use "me"
"Here is a picture of Jake and me."

Again, as it has been stated previously, if you take the other person out of the sentence, the answer should be very clear on which to use.
"I was running."
"Here is a picture of me."

JeaLea December 20, 2005, 10:32pm

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Your examples are correct, jealea, but I don't think it has anything to do with action per se. In the first case, I is the subject. in th second case, me is the object.

Anonymous December 22, 2005, 9:47am

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Which of the two constructions is grammatical- 'They do it better than us' or 'They do it better than we.'?

sangeetabahuguna March 21, 2006, 1:22am

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Very confusingly, the "strictly correct" version is "They do it better than we." That's because you're not saying that the way they do it is better than *us*, but rather that it's better than the way we *do* it. There's really an elided part of a sentence there:

"They do it better than we [do it]."

However, I'd say this "strictly correct" usage is actually dying out. By analogy with ""My mother bought some sweets for me," people tend to use the objective case in all sentences with superficially similar structure. I *know* the rule, and my ear (without my approval) *still* finds "...better than we" a bit pretentious. I'd say that this rule is changing through repeated assault, and that it will be gone in 30 years or so.

Avrom March 23, 2006, 1:36pm

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Ginny and others: The "rule" of putting other people first has nothing to do with grammar. It is just anal and stupid (to try to enforce it). Especially so when considering that many native English speakers can't speak properly when using the "rule" - ie '... gave it to my sister and I'. If the "rule" had been reversed then at least you people could handle your own language, because I doubt anyone would say '... gave it to I and my sister'.

slemmet June 4, 2006, 4:29pm

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"My mother bought some sweets for me and my sister," is correct.

"My mother bought some sweets for my sister and I," is incorrect.

The trick is to take out the other person. Does it make sense to say, "My mother bought some sweets for I?" No. It doesn't. If the two of you were the subject, however, you WOULD use "I" because "I" is the first person form of the subject. "Me and Ali went to bed," doesn't make sense, because if you remove "and Ali," it's "Me went to bed."

If YOU (+ someone else) are the subject, ALWAYS use "I." If YOU (+ someone else) are the direct/indirect object, ALWAYS use "me."



Dredsina December 13, 2007, 4:26pm

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Yes     No