Confused by subject and object pronouns? Although I live in a community where poor grammar is the norm rather than the exception, I can’t recall ever hearing anyone over about the age of 2 saying something like “Me want a cookie,” or “Give she a cookie,” or even “Give myself a cookie.”
If you are raised speaking English, many people along the way will have corrected that error, and you’ll grow up knowing that “Please come visit I” simply sounds wrong.
Referring to one person is easy, but… Unfortunately, when the words I, me, she, he, her, and him are combined with another person’s name, the ability to hear that it sounds wrong goes out the window for many people.
Around here you’re very apt to hear something like “Me and my wife went to the lake for the week-end.” Or, “Him and Jerry are rebuilding an engine in the garage.” I have a friend who says things like “Her and her sister stopped by for coffee on Friday.”
Even my neighbor – a retired educator with a Master’s Degree – gets this wrong. Last night he was talking about someone and said “I always enjoyed visiting with he and his wife.” He also says things like “The kids came to visit Hazel and I.”
And then there are those who try to be ultra-proper and mess it up royally by saying “If you have questions, give Jerry or myself a call.” Ouch! That one is like fingernails on a blackboard.
So how can you always get this right?
Simply remove the other person for a minute and see how it sounds. You would not say “Me went to the lake,” or “The kids came to visit I.” You wouldn’t say “Her stopped by for coffee on Friday.”
After you have it right without the other person, put them back in.
Of course, you need to remember to check the verb as well. You don’t want to end up saying “He and Jerry is rebuilding an engine.” If there are two people, you need the plural verb: are.
As for “myself,” remember that it always refers back to you, and it needs an “I” as the subject, as in:
- I wrote this article myself.
- I cooked this dinner myself.
- I attended the movie by myself.
- I am only speaking for myself when I say…
- I indulged myself with a huge ice cream sundae.
Does all this really matter? Yes – if you don’t want to put big stop signs in the middle of your messages!
Graphic courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net