Friday, January 14, 2011

Don't Be Afraid of Me!

 
Me or I?  Choosing between these two pronouns is a struggle for some writers, including me.  Too often writers insert I when the correct word is me.   Why? Because the use of I sounds formal, almost stilted, therefore it must be correct, right? Sorry, but no.  Formal and stilted does not equate to proper --- just ask the English Monarchy!  

My personal Grammar Goddess taught me a quick trick for this one . . . simply remove the other proper noun and use what sounds natural.  For example:

Can you take a picture of Sam and I?  

Remove the proper noun Sam and you have: Can you take a picture of I.

 Doesn’t sound right, and thus the proper phrasing should be: Can you take a picture of Sam and me?

Just one of the many simple tricks I have accumulated in my grammar files.  Hope it helps, and have fun writing!

P.S. Don’t be afraid to use myself either!  It is a reflexive pronoun that that should almost always be used in conjunction with the pronoun I.  It is great way to express emphasis; but, be careful.  Most seasoned editors will reject if used as a replacement for me.  

9 comments:

  1. Bah! I love this post! As an ESL teacher, I teach my students the same thing - by removing the proper noun, you can easily see which would fit best. I also teach them that a lot of North Americans frequently mix up the two in situations you mention (Sam and I getting our picture taken), and to strive to know the proper rule. Which brings me to my next point - if looking for voice in your text, maybe it's good to bend that rule and go with "I" instead of "me", just to let your reader know a bit more about the character?

    (Still drives me nuts. :P)

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  2. That's totally the trick I use! So simple, yet so incredibly helpful.

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  3. Kathryn -- couldn't agree more. Sometimes bending the rule is critical, and lends a certain emphasis to a scene that you otherwise wouldn't get!

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  4. Oh, good post. Wonder how many times my writing partner has had to redline over an "I" that should be "me" LOL:)

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  5. This is probably the only thing me don't have a problem with. lol

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  6. I used to struggle with this, but had to get that all straightened out. Also commas - still working those! :)

    Came via the blog hop! Nice to meet a fellow YA author! :)

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  7. My dad always says, "I can do everything, but everything is done to me."

    I tend to follow your suggestion and remove the proper noun.

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