In my last post, I discussed the importance of using pronouns. This week, I’d like to address the importance of using the correct pronouns. One particular – and extremely common – pronoun error that drives me crazy is the misuse of I.
At some point, most children get chastised for using the pronoun “me” instead of “I.” For example, a little kid might announce, “Me and Lisa are going to the park!” and in response, a horrified mother will shout “You wouldn’t say ME am going to the park!” Getting kids to think about pronoun use this way drills into their heads that the format of “Lisa and I are going to the park” is correct.
However, it’s not always correct to use “I.”
When a pronoun is the object of a verb (e.g. I saw him) or comes after a preposition (e.g. I gave the ball to him), it’s called an object pronoun. If the pronoun is the subject of the verb (e.g. He saw the movie), it’s called a subject pronoun. “I,” “he,” “she,” “we,” and “they” are subject pronouns. “Me,” “him,” “her,” “us,” and “them” are object pronouns.
The problem is that some people who don’t understand grammatical rules think they should always use “I” or “he” or “she,” etc. This is why, for example, we have public figures who occasionally say things in their speeches such as “This is a great year for you and I,” or “Thank you for giving my wife and I this opportunity.”
This is wrong.
You would never say “This is a great plan for I” or “Thank you for giving I this opportunity,” would you? Of course not. So if you find the rules confusing and still aren’t sure which pronoun to use, follow your mom’s advice and cut out the extra person or people in the sentence. Then you’ll know what’s right!
Palo Alto native Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
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