You, Me, He, She and I: When to Say What

A few weeks ago, I wrote about something that bugs me like nails on a Mexican hairless grammatically incorrect hamster. That’s right, I’m talking about the “heighth / height” debacle.

Since I’m airing all my grammar laundry, I might as well get this one out of the way: what pronoun to use (I / me) when combining it with another person.This subject comes up more than I’m comfortable with because of the glories of Facebook. People gum this up all the time when referencing themselves with the company of others in a photo.

When you’re mentioning yourself in the context of being in the company of others, when is it right to refer to yourself as “I” or “me?” The answer is super simple:

Ask yourself one question every time: “If the other person / people were not there, how would I refer to myself?” The answer (“I” or “me”) is the pronoun you should insert into the sentence.

EXAMPLE:

“Bill and I/me went to the Grand Canyon last week.” hmmm… what to say? Welp, what if Bill’s foot got caught in the lawnmower you accidentally rode over him the weekend before your trip and he had to bail at the last minute? Bill is a little lame like that – always flaking out over toe amputations and what-not. In short, what if Bill wasn’t there?

Answer: You’d say “I went to the Grand Canyon last week.” Thus, since Bill’s foot was only hypothetically run over and he did join you on the trip, you would say “Bill and I went to the Grand Canyon last week.”

EXAMPLE B:

Now, let’s say you’re showing me a picture from this Grand Canyon trip. There’s Bill, there’s “I/me,” there’s the big hole in the ground… How should you reference yourself in this photo?

You would probably say something like, “Hey, this is a picture of Bill and I/me at the Grand Canyon last week.” So, which should you say: “I” or “me?”

Let’s suppose that right before this picture was taken, you shoved Bill into the Grand Canyon, just to see how gravity works in Arizona. Right after you pushed Bill into the hole, someone took the picture. How would you describe it? You’d probably say something like, “Hey, here’s a picture of me at the Grand Canyon right after Bill fell in. Isn’t that sad about him? Too bad he wasn’t wearing a helmet, but man that guy was clumsy. By the way, did you know that gravity works the same in Arizona as it does in Florida? I’m just sayin’.”

Since that whole scenario with Bill’s untimely demise didn’t (technically) happen, and he did stay in the picture, you can now rest assured knowing you’re using correct grammar by saying, “Here’s Bill and me at the Grand Canyon last week.”

Bottom line: when you’re referencing yourself in photos with someone else — even with hoards of someone elses (sic), not just one person, DON’T say “I.”

BAD (I might smack you) –> “Here’s Bill and I at the Grand Canyon.”

GOOD (I still might not care, but I won’t envision shoving you in the hole while you’re telling me about it) –> “Here’s Bill and me at the Grand Canyon.”

EXAMPLE 3:

But Wait… What if You Refer to Bill as “He” in the Sentence?

Mmmm… Good question grammah-son! Here’s one of those annoying grammar idiosyncrasies. Let’s say that you’re at a dinner party boring regaling people with nauseatingly over-detailed lovely  stories of your road trip to the Grand Canyon. To make matters worse enhance the fun, you’re showing pictures of the interminable thing adventure. Over the soup course, you might open with saying, “Bill and I went to the Grand Canyon last week. Here’s a picture of he and I/me at sunset.”

In this case, the “ask yourself how you’d say it if you’d been alone” trick doesn’t work. After all, who says “Here’s a picture of he and me?” That’s the stuff your momma would’ve smacked the backside of your head for saying. What? Oh, no, not your momma? Just mine. Well, that explains a lot – like why you don’t know what to say when, and why I want to smack you for it. Back to the issue at hand: “he and I/me”

The answer is simple – you say “Here’s a picture of he and I at sunset” because, well… it just sounds right. That “sounding right” is probably what got you into that mess with a face smacking before, back when you’d say stuff like “Here’s Bill and I at the beach.” You say it because you don’t want to make the error mentioned above, the “he and me” issue.

EXAMPLE π:

So, what about “him and I/me?” If you’re walking around saying things like “Him and I went to the movies last weekend,” or “Him and me were best friends,” I honestly have no idea what you’re doing reading this post. You clearly lack a grasping of the most elementary grammatical structures and I’m surprised you can even read this. Did the stick figures make sense at least?

A FINAL NOTE:

If this is still muddling, that’s cool. Just give yourself a break and refer to yourself in a group as “we” and “us” as often as possible. It’ll certainly make you sound like you have a solid grasp of grammar and it spares me having to resist the urge to reach through the computer screen across the Facebook Universe to smack you.

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4 Responses to You, Me, He, She and I: When to Say What

  1. paroodija says:

    interesting post! :))
    and great ilustrations!

  2. Laura Cavaluzzo says:

    Actually, you’d say “here’s a picture of him and me at sunset.” Or…better yet, “Here’s a picture of us.” Nice, neat, clear, easy. And nobody get’s smacked.

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