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Whatever happened to “me?”

I am not exactly a grammar purist. In casual conversation, I’ve been known to dangle participles and mix tenses and pronouns with the best of them. I leave prepositions hanging at the end of sentences, and even use incomplete sentences for the sake of free-flowing conversations. Though I tend to use somewhat more formal grammar in my writing, I sometimes employ partial sentences for dramatic effect. I allow my characters to speak informally so their speech sounds believable when read aloud. As for “Southernisms” — well, suffice it to say I love my “y’alls” and “fixing tos” when I’m among my Southern friends and family.

Yet, there are grammatical errors that clang in my ears even in casual conversation. “I seen that movie yesterday.” “I seen lots of flip-flops on the beach.” Ack! Is it really so much more difficult to say, “I saw?” Obviously, that’s one of my peeves.

My other grammatical button is more insidious, especially because it seems to be gaining in usage, even among people who should know better. I’ve heard it from professors and television pundits, from other writers and people on the street. And the sad thing is, they think they’re being formally correct by using the phrase.

Spot the error in this sentence:  My uncle gave some money to my sister and I.

While watching Friday Night Lights last week, I heard Tammy, a lead character who is also a school principal, say to someone, “Would you please leave Becky and I alone for a few minutes?” Again — ack!

It’s a very simple rule. If you remove the name of the other person, would you then say “I” or “me?” In this case, as in the former, it would be “me.” Not “I.”

I blame it on all those mothers and teachers (myself included) who constantly corrected our kids when they asked, “Can Suzy and me jump into this fountain?” “May Suzy and I,” we would reply automatically — before saying no.

We didn’t mean it was alway to be used that way. Now people seem to believe the use of the word “me” is never correct when combined with another name. I’m beginning to wonder if that grammatical rule has gone the way of other obsolete traditions — like the one about never ending a sentence with a preposition.

As I said, I make plenty of conversational gaffes, myself, so I don’t judge those who do the same. These are just my grammatical pet peeves. What, if any, are yours?

And now, y’all, I’m fixing to go make some dinner for my family and me.

(By the way, don’t get me started on those non-Southerners who use y’all as a singular pronoun in their writing. It’s ALWAYS plural — please forgive the shouting, that’s another pet peeve for another post.)

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Award-winning, best-selling author of women's romance fiction.

6 thoughts on “Whatever happened to “me?”

  1. Girl, you’ve hit on something that’s been driving me batty for years! Just the other day, a writer I follow on Twitter, one who gets paid well for writing/producing on a tv show as well as for other things like, you know, books!!!, used I instead of the correct me. I feel violent when I see crud like that. Here I’m thinking it’s the eejit actors who don’t know grammar, but it’s the dangblasted writers! Gah.

    Thank you. I needed that rant. xoxo

  2. I love this! These things have been driving me batty for years. This “me” or “I” business isn’t really as hard as some make it out to be. Well, most of the time at least. I actually heard someone use “I” correctly on a television show just last week and they were “corrected” by another person who told them it should be “me”. I wanted to shout at the screen, “Finish the sentence idiot!” Actually I did shout that at the screen. Really! How difficult is it to decide if the “Me/I” is doing the action or having the action done to them. Don’t even get me started on the entire “can” or “may” debacle.

  3. You and I are grammar soul mates! Don’t give up the fight! If we remain true to our language, maybe it won’t be lost to excuses that we’re taking away someone’s culture or who really cares, when we know what everyone means anyway.

  4. I love this post, mostly because I have my own grammatical pet peeves and I don’t feel so alone in that now. The one that bothers me the most is the “you’re” versus “your” thing. Tied with that is probably the use of incorrect verb tense.

    Thanks for this post!

  5. Of course I’d make a typo in a post criticizing grammatical errors! Thanks for pointing that out. I fixed it!

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