Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It’s All About Me

This little essay didn’t make it into my book, but I was reminded of writing it by a TV ad this morning encouraging me to “Tune in to Ron and I giving you the latest news.” So after a rummage in the old files…here it is.

It’s All About Me

Speaking of the grammar police, have you noticed that the decline and fall of the objective pronoun “me” is becoming more evident every day? I remember learning to parse sentences in English class, and drawing little lines every which way to show the sentence structure and identify nouns, pronouns, verbs, objects of verbs, etc. etc. etc. Apparently that has fallen out of fashion.

My readers of course do not make the egregious mistake of mixing up the subjective and objective pronouns “I” and “me.” But if you know someone who does…try this. Ask them to answer this question: “The clerk gave the tickets to Bob and ___.” Have them fill in the blank. “I” or “me”? Not sure? Well, tell them…forget Bob. “The clerk gave the tickets to ___.” ME. ME. ME! The correct answer in both cases is ME. With Bob or without. It is ME. It is all about ME.

This is the guiding rule: Forget the other person and choose the pronoun you would use if you were the only one there. You would not say “He gave them to I.” Would you? So don’t say “He gave them to Bob and I.” Do you think this morning’s reporter would have said “Tune in to I giving you the latest news” if Ron was not around?

This “I/me” confusion is one of the most common mistakes made today. Here are some more things to worry about: its/it’s? which/that? your/you’re? could of/could have? who’s/whose? data is/data are?….on and on and on. You can think of other examples. If you want to look up something when you’re not sure, I recommend Elements of Style by Strunk & White. For some humor, try Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner. Or, a book recently on the bestseller list, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Just's all about ME.


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