The Compulsive Copyeditor

August 24, 2016

Me Meme: Pedantry of the Day

Filed under: grammar,language degenerating,pedantry of the day — amba12 @ 10:33 am

Me, me, me.

We have banished this little word. Sent it to its room for an indefinite time-out.

Maybe it’s spiteful overreaction to too many stern corrections of “Joey and me went to the store.” Or maybe it’s that “me, me, me” is used to mock and shame selfishness in children, to the point where the word itself sounds piggy, whiny, grabby. We think we sound more dignified and grown-up when we say “Joey and I” — in ALL contexts.

But in some contexts, it’s just wrong. “Me” serves a grammatical purpose. Technically, it’s the dative and accusative form of the first person singular, the form that is the direct and indirect object of transitive verbs.

Huh? (I know. I wouldn’t know a dative from a dating app either if I hadn’t studied German in high school with a very stern, authentically German teacher.)

Well, just as (after age two) you wouldn’t say “Me went to the store,” you wouldn’t say, “Make sure to visit I next time you’re in town,” or “Mom is throwing I an anniversary party.” But that’s exactly what you’re saying when you say “Make sure to visit Joey and I” or “Mom is throwing Joey and I a party.”

There’s a simple trick for knowing when to say “Joey and I” and when to say “Joey and me”: get rid of Joey. Not for good, of course. Send him to his room for a brief time-out, and try the sentence with just you in it. Works every time.

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1 Comment »

  1. A favorite childhood book and author of mine was “Me and Caleb” and “Me and Caleb Again” by Franklyn Meyer. I haven’t read them for 45 years or so. But for all the time since, I’ve thought that Meyer was deliberately being folksy and rural south and misusing the case. You made me realize that maybe he was writing about what happened growing up TO to him and TO his brother. In other words, the title is short for “What happened to me and Caleb.” That sets up the question: What is the proper word order in the dative or accusative case: Me and ___ or ___ and me?

    Comment by chickelit — September 16, 2016 @ 12:45 am | Reply


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