“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days. […] Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance.”
― J.K. Rowling

I vs. Me: Being Self Centered Can Be Good

I know I talk a big game about proper grammar, punctuation, and usage around these parts. It’s pretty obvious that I have a passion for it. However, sometimes that passion becomes overzealousness and hypercorrectness, and then we end up with problems. In my experience, that excessive enthusiasm most manifests itself in the I vs. me conflict.

I vs. me

When to Use I and Me

We all know there is a difference between I and me. Simply put, “I” is a subject, “me” is an object. Generally speaking, there aren’t any issues when you’re only referring to yourself.

As a Steelers fan, I can’t stand the Baltimore Ravens.

I’m sure that Ravens fans would find me equally irritating.

Makes sense. The confusion starts when your first person character is joined by third person companions. The easiest way to remember whether to use “I” or “me” is to take the extra persons out of the sentence and see if the structure still holds up.

Nikki and I agree that Troy Polamalu is one of the best quality guys in the NFL. (I agree that…)

Andy will be cheering for Pittsburgh with Nikki and me this weekend. (…cheering for Pittsburgh with me…)

It’s a simple rule, but it can be overlooked in the enthusiastic desire to get that “I” right.

Do you have any grammar tricks to help you remember the rules? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes about a favorite pastime, hobby, or sport that you share with a friend. Maybe you share a love of a hometown team, or maybe you both love to knit, or you both have a love of golden doodles. How do you express your mutual enjoyment of your chosen pastime? Post your professed fandom in the comments.

About Liz Bureman

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.

  • manilamac

    Just between you and me, I take issue with your sentence: “However, sometimes that passion becomes overzealousness and hypercorrectness, and then you end up with problems.” As for me, I have no problems at all with your passion, no matter how overzealous or hypercorrect it might be.

    What I certainly do have problems with (especially as an editor) is people changing pronoun persons in mid-stream. The problem I have, of course, is exactly who you’re talking about. Do you end up with problems because of your passion? Do “we” both run into problems, or do you intend to say that it is only me, the reader, who runs into problems?

    I would have used “we” because it would involve the reader without implying that is was solely the reader who suffered; I assume the suffering to be a matter of difficult communication caused by your undue zeal. That’s something I would agree with. But I cannot subscribe to the notion that you (and I really mean you, the person reading this, who wrote the above sentence) have unilaterally caused me (the person who read your blog today) a problem while you got off Scott free. – M

    • epbure

      Well then, M. Duly noted. The changes you suggested have been made above.

      • manilamac

        Why, thank you kindly, Liz! I am hypercorrectly, overzealously impressed—we are indeed passionate! – M

  • manilamac

    Just between you and me, I take issue with your sentence: “However, sometimes that passion becomes overzealousness and hypercorrectness, and then you end up with problems.” As for me, I have no problems at all with your passion, no matter how overzealous or hypercorrect it might be.

    What I certainly do have problems with (especially as an editor) is people changing pronoun persons in mid-stream. The problem I have, of course, is exactly who you’re talking about. Do you end up with problems because of your passion? Do “we” both run into problems, or do you intend to say that it is only me, the reader, who runs into problems?

    I would have used “we” because it would involve the reader without implying that is was solely the reader who suffered; I assume the suffering to be a matter of difficult communication caused by your undue zeal. That’s something I would agree with. But I cannot subscribe to the notion that you (and I really mean you, the person reading this, who wrote the above sentence) have unilaterally caused me (the person who read your blog today) a problem while you got off Scott free. – M

    • Well then, M. Consider me corrected.

      • manilamac

        Why, thank you kindly, Liz! I am hypercorrectly, overzealously impressed—we are indeed passionate! – M

  • Guest

    Sally and I were traveling across Missouri during game 6 of the World Series. We live in St. Louis and were excited that the Cards were playing. Sally tried to find a radio station that carried the game but it was to no avail. We couldn’t find a station for most of the trip. So I suggested that Sally check the score on her iPhone. She told me the score was Rangers 7, Cards 4. We feared the worst and thought it was doomed.

    I told Sally to get on Facebook to see if any of our friends were at the game. She told me the names of a few. Our good friend Kelly noticed Sally’s post and started texting in an effort to keep Sally and me updated. The game appeared to be doomed. People were starting to leave during the top of the 9th inning to avoid the celebration of the Ranger fans.

    About that point, we were close enough to home that we were able to find the game on the radio. Just when we thought all hope was lost, we heard David Freese hit a triple and tie up the game. Sally and I were both excited. I did my best to get home quickly so Sally and I could watch the extra innings on our TV.

    We were thrilled to watch Freese hit the winning home run in the 11th inning giving the Cards the chance to win the series the next night. Sally and I were so grateful that God was a Cards fan. The World Series was God’s way of proving that to Sally and me.

  • Anonymous

    Sally and I were traveling across Missouri during game 6 of the World Series. We live in St. Louis and were excited that the Cards were playing. Sally tried to find a radio station that carried the game but it was to no avail. We couldn’t find a station for most of the trip. So I suggested that Sally check the score on her iPhone. She told me the score was Rangers 7, Cards 4. We feared the worst and thought it was doomed.

    I told Sally to get on Facebook to see if any of our friends were at the game. She told me the names of a few. Our good friend Kelly noticed Sally’s post and started texting in an effort to keep Sally and me updated. The game appeared to be doomed. People were starting to leave during the top of the 9th inning to avoid the celebration of the Ranger fans.

    About that point, we were close enough to home that we were able to find the game on the radio. Just when we thought all hope was lost, we heard David Freese hit a triple and tie up the game. Sally and I were both excited. I did my best to get home quickly so Sally and I could watch the extra innings on our TV.

    We were thrilled to watch Freese hit the winning home run in the 11th inning giving the Cards the chance to win the series the next night. Sally and I were so grateful that God was a Cards fan. The World Series was God’s way of proving that to Sally and me.

  • Thank the Lord; Liz, this confusion between using “me” and “I” has been the thorn in my grammar-loving flesh. You do a good job of clarifying!

  • Thank the Lord; Liz, this confusion between using “me” and “I” has been the thorn in my grammar-loving flesh. You do a good job of clarifying!

  • Cindy

    I would love to hear suggestions on some typical traits/characters who would mix up I and me in their dialogue. Ex.: kids or young adults, uneducated individuals or possibly dialects? I think when speaking I may mix them up occaisionally but would catch it when I’m writing.

  • Victor

    Music has moved me for as long as I can remember. I think it was back when I was four years old when I remember hearing my grandfather plucking the mandolin. How the sound resonated and how the melody just sang from this little instrument really intrigued me. I thought to myself, “Wow, that is so cool! I want to know how I can make the same sounds.” That is when I got hooked, hooked on music, my ears would always listen closely to old Portuguese folklore music. At first I was just trying to pick out the mandolin parts but then I realized all of the other instruments. The timbre of the different stringed instruments, such as the mandolin, the Portuguese guitar, the viola, etc.. just amazed me. Still to this day, forty something years later I fall deeply in music when I play the mandolin, guitar or any other instrument.

    • 709writer

      That’s really cool. I’ve always loved piano especially. There don’t have to be any words at all and I get so much enjoyment out of just hearing the instruments, without a voice. And what’s amazing about music is that it can carry its own emotion, from sadness to gloom to a skip kind of happy.

    • Beth Schmelzer

      You must read Natasha Solomons ‘ 2015 “The Song of Hartgrove Hall.” The MC is a grandfather sharing music knowledge w/ his grandson, a piano prodigy, with many musical characters.

  • Alicia

    Me, myself and I
    Sat down to have some tea.
    Proper English grammar
    Was discussed among us three.
    “Do any of you know how,” said I,
    “To make good use of me?”
    “Haven’t a clue,” I heard from myself,
    “Now go and let me be!”

    -AJS

    • 709writer

      Lol that was nice. 😀

  • LaCresha Lawson

    Oh, boy. That is a doozy!

  • I have used this trick since I learned it in the 5th grade. Good reminder though!

  • 709writer

    This is genius! Thanks Liz!

    One of my favorite pastimes in the whole world is writing with my brother. We usually come up with a general idea for a story, write separately, then read to each other what we’ve come up with. His stories are so funny they make me cry.

  • Sarah Rehan

    Saman and I have spent wonderful times window shopping in malls around Islamabad. We love hanging out together amidst shops and food stops. It is also the best way to spend my brief time with her during my occasional visits to the capital city. It is always a pleasure to visit Centaurus or Safa Mall, floor by floor, shop by shop, glancing through new varieties and discounted sale items. Then we love to grab a bite at the assortment of food options available across their food courts. The comfort of the airconditioned safe interior of the mall adds to the luxurious feel of the experience.

  • Dina

    Umm, well, not to be corny but I love to write. I love any artistic expression of feelings and emotions. So basically music, writing, reading and downloading graphic art that makes me fe el something. I share this passion with a friend, Alison, who is more like a writing buddy than a close friend. Just last night we went to an open mic session and each of us shared one of our least personal poems and it was so fun. That’s basically how we enjoy our passion together; we share our creations with each other and others and basically just relax in that creative atmosphere. What’s really nice is the intermissions at these events where everyone’s just greeting each other and sharing their opinions about each other’s performance. It’s really nice to see how others get really excited about and during their performances. You can tell that they love what they do, and that’s a nice feeling to experience with someone.

  • Awesome advice!! This one is tricky, so that rule of thumb is just great 🙂

  • I have always had an issue or problem with I and me… neither one listen to yours truly…I’ve always had a problem with good and well.

    When I speak to someone and they ask how i’m doing I say I’m good or doing good… and she almost immediately says .. no your doing well.

    I just roll my eyes “If I was doing well I wouldn’t be ill.” but she would never ever get that so I just take a deep breath and move on.

    Lol

    Yea shes a retired school teacher…

  • Nicola Tapson

    One of my favourite pastimes is to sew. Now, this is not the everyday sewing of clothes or darning of socks but more the intricate creation of artworks on cloth with a glorious palette of colours. This hobby is called embroidery. I share my passion with my mother. We spend an afternoon and chat about the going-ons in our week and as the needle moves up and down we sew the tales of our stories into each piece of embroidery. My mother and I enjoy this time together and many hours are shared though some maybe in silence it is always a great afternoon spent with my mom.

  • Tooba Siddiqui

    Hi,

    My favorite pastime is to read novel and with it I really like to take a sip of tea on my hand.

    My favorite hobby is to draw some unique and interesting things, I like to ride bicycle, use computer, watch TV and so on…

    Well I am not really fond of sports yeah but I like badminton.

    Next is I really like to eat my favorite food emmm…. 😛

    I love to eat ^-^

    Thay are my pastime, hobbies I’ve share…

    Thank you for tolerance 😛