I or me?

February 2022: Hypercorrection: When the pursuit of correctness goes awry.

Photo: Furi from Pexels

Hypercorrection or overcorrection occurs when we, in an honest effort to talk and write grammatically correct, actually wind up opting for the wrong solution. The use of ‘I’ vs. ‘’me’ is an example of such a pitfall.

The rule is pretty straightforward: Use ‘I’ when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence (the person performing the action), and use ‘me’ when it is the object of the sentence (the person at the receiving end of the action).

The reason behind the tendency to overcorrect is most likely that, growing up, we were repeatedly corrected when using ‘me’; for instance when asking: “Is it cool if me and Louise go to the mall?” (The proper way to ask is “is it cool if Louise and I go to the mall?”). This has sparked a knee-jerk aversion to using ‘me’, although it is often called for, as in the following sentence:

✘ It would make Charlotte and I happy to be able to come back to campus.
✔ It would make Charlotte and me happy to be able to come back to campus.

✘ Please send the article to Lisa and I.
✔ Please send the article to Lisa and me.

However, as mentioned above, use ‘I’ when it is the subject of the sentence:

✘ Charlotte and me are looking forward to returning to da office.
✔ Charlotte and I are looking forward to returning to da office.

If in doubt, a simple trick is to remove other names and distracting words from the sentence, making it more clear whether to use ‘I’ or ‘me’:

✔ It would make me happy.
    (And not: “It would make I happy”).
✔ I am looking forward to returning.
    (And not: “Me am looking forward to returning”).