When to use ‘I’ or ‘me’ in a sentence

Most of us can use ‘I’ or ‘me’ in a sentence when no one’s sharing it with us. But as soon as anyone else squeezes in, things can get awkward.

For example, can you tell which of the following are correct?

Wiremu and me went to the doughnut shop.
Wiremu and I went to the doughnut shop.

Molly baked biscuits for Amal and I.
Molly baked biscuits for Amal and me.

You and me are fantastic cooks.
You and I are fantastic cooks.

Everyone loves lamingtons made by you and I.
Everyone loves lamingtons made by you and me.

Not so easy, is it?

Image: Doughnuts.

Wiremu and I went to the doughnut shop. Image by Amiga-Commodore / CC BY-ND

If you’re a smarty pants and know them all, well done. For the rest of you, the second choice in each case is the correct one.

So, how can you get it right every time? Luckily, there’s a simple trick that’s really easy to remember.

Pretend you’re the only one in the sentence

Most of us can get the sentence right with only one person in it. So take the other person out, decide whether ‘I’ or ‘me’ is right, then put the other person back in.

I went to the doughnut shop.
Wiremu and I went to the doughnut shop.

Molly baked biscuits for me.
Molly baked biscuits for Amal and me.

I am a fantastic cook.
You and I are fantastic cooks.

Everyone loves lamingtons made by me.
Everyone loves lamingtons made by you and me.

Image: Lamingtons.

Everyone loves lamingtons made by me. Image by jamieanne / CC BY-ND

Let other people go first

Just like it’s polite to let other people go ahead of you through a doorway, it’s considered polite to put other people first in a sentence. This rule doesn’t seem to be absolute, but in business writing it’s best to play safe.

Say
Jemima, Matiu, and I went out for ice cream.

Don’t say
I, Jemima and Matiu went out for ice cream.

Read about the grammar behind the pronouns

For a full explanation of the grammar behind ‘I’ and ‘me’, read either:

‘I’ or ‘me’? — from Oxford Dictionaries
Between you and me — from Grammar Girl

Want to know more?

Find out how to use ‘myself’ in a sentence

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