I Object to Objective “I”

I promised my sister I’d write about the deplorably widespread use of nominative pronouns in plural objects—most commonly, the objective “I.” What does this mean, you ask with a frantic note in your voice. It means a sentence like this:

He stole the grammar book from my friend and I.

Does that look perfectly okay to you? Keep reading. That sentence ought to read:

He stole the grammar book from my friend and me.

And if that rat hadn’t stolen your grammar book, you’d know that.

My sister’s theory, which I agree with, is that this is a case of overcompensation. We all had it drilled into us in school that we mustn’t say, “My friend and me [or, worse, me and my friend] went out to play.” But what some teachers apparently forgot to mention was that this was only wrong if that phrase is the subject of the sentence.

Remember way back when we talked about subjects and objects? The subject is the one performing the action; the object is the one the action is performed upon. You know the difference instinctively, even if you don’t know the terms. For instance, I’ve never heard anyone say:

He stole the grammar book from I.

Because people know instinctively that “I” is the object of the preposition “from” and therefore should take the objective form, “me”:

He stole the grammar book from me.

The fact that your friend got into the act has absolutely no effect on the proper form of the pronoun.

So if you’re confused about whether the pronoun in a phrase that combines a noun and a pronoun (or two pronouns) should be nominative or objective, just take the extra noun or pronoun out and see what sounds right.

Just to reinforce the point, here are some more correct sentences (with their experimental altered forms):

They drove my husband and me to the party. (They drove me to the party.)

He gave the same amount of candy to her and me. (He gave candy to her. He gave the same amount of candy to me.)

I like him and her, but I like him better than her. (I like him. I like her.)

She and I went to a concert. (She went to a concert. I went to a concert.)

That’s the difference between our opponents and us. (That’s the difference between us.)

Got it? Great! Now you can let that thief keep the grammar book, because you and your friend don’t need it anymore.

My sister and I thank you. If you conquer this habit, you’ll be doing my sister and me a big favor.

Advertisements

One comment on “I Object to Objective “I”

  1. That was surprisingly lucid. Actually, my friend and I never had a grammar book, but I like the way you wove into the whole shmear (is that spelled correctly?).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s