The Dilemma of Me, Myself and I

As children, many of us probably had our moms correct us when we said, “Me and Billy are going for a bike ride.”

“Billy and I,” she would admonish.

“Can me and Jenny have a lemonade stand?” we may have inquired.

“Jenny and I,” Mom would correct.

It’s not surprising that so many of us steer clear of “me” in places where it truly is the correct choice.

Consider this example:
My boss is taking Jim and I to lunch.
My boss is taking Jim and me to lunch.

Which is correct?

The quick and easy way to make the right choice is to eliminate Jim from the statement. You wouldn’t say, “My boss is taking I to lunch.” You would say, “My boss is taking me to lunch.” Adding Jim doesn’t change anything — except the amount of the bill! In this case, “Jim and me” is correct.

The same type of example shows how “myself” can be misused. How many times have you seen or heard this phrasing:

Please contact Mary or myself with questions.

Again, if you eliminated Mary, you would not say, “Please contact myself with questions.” “Me” is the right choice: “Please contact me (or Mary and me) with questions.”

“I” is a subject, the doer of an action. “Me” is an object, the receiver of an action. “Myself” is a reflexive pronoun: “I try not to take myself too seriously.” It often is used for emphasis: “I myself would never take a sick day that wasn’t warranted.”

Mom was right about the courtesy of mentioning another person’s name before your own; however, I’m sure she didn’t intend for you to structure your sentences with grammatical errors.

Kathy Watson
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Kathy Watson

Kathy has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)

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Kathy Watson
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