So I like to use a simple little trick of sorts. I call it “taking out half of the equation.” No, there’s not really an equation involved per se, but that’s what I like to call it. So make up your own name for it if you prefer.
The best way to explain this little trick is to offer a few examples. I’ll start with I vs. me, since so many of us seem to think that “I” sounds more…I don’t know, cultured and correct, I guess, when in fact it’s often used entirely incorrectly and just sounds dumb. For instance, one might hear on a radio commercial:
This business was started by my father and I many years ago.
Sound good and classy to you? Nope, it’s wrong. Here’s how you know: just take out half of the equation by removing the father from the picture. That leaves:
This business was started by I many years ago.
Ugh - now it doesn’t sound so good, does it? Obviously, the business was started by me (objective case of the pronoun), not by I (subjective case). And here’s the thing: adding back the other half (the father) does NOT make using “I” any more correct here. Thus, the correct sentence:
This business was started by my father and me many years ago.
Here’s another example, a little more blatantly obvious:
Her and I went to the store.
“I went” is correct, of course. But take out that half of the equation (the “and I” part), and now you’re saying:
Her went to the store.
Wrong, of course, and, again, just adding back “and I” doesn’t make using “her” correct all of a sudden. It wasn’t before, and it isn’t now. The proper sentence is thus:
She and I went to the store.
Along those same lines, one all too often hears something like:
Me and my brother had a beer.
That, of course, brings up another rule of English, which is that it’s virtually always incorrect to put yourself first. But should one say it this way?
My brother and me had a beer.
Nope, because “my brother had a beer” would be correct, but “me had a beer” would not. So the correct sentence is:
My brother and I had a beer.
Let’s try just one more, using the pronouns as objects of a preposition such as “to,” and demonstrating the common error of mixing the cases – again, perhaps because one somehow considers “I” the classier-sounding pronoun, even when it’s wrong, to whit:
It all sounded fairly complicated to him and I.
Complicated to him, fine. Complicated to I, not fine. Complicated to me, good. Correct sentence:
It all sounded fairly complicated to him and me.
Speaking of complicated, all this objective and subjective pronoun stuff can get more complex, such as when dealing with an entire parenthetical phrase as the object of the preposition, but that’s a lesson for another day (or maybe never, if you’re lucky).
Hope this helps someone, sometime, some way. It works virtually every time.
Last edited by RealLindaL on 3/6/2017, 6:19 pm; edited 2 times in total