U SUCK @ GRAMMER "I" Versus "Me" Edition

That's right: U SUCK @ GRAMMER is back!  It's been a while since we've explored some common grammar pitfalls on the blog.  First there was the biweekly edition, then the affect/effect edition, but today I bring you a grammar oversight that's even more common and therefore more horrible. (And once again, many thanks to my friend Ashley who helped edit and lovingly scold me into grammar goodness.) So today's edition is: 

U SUCK @ GRAMMER*: "I" versus "me"

John Hamm recently gave an interview to The Huffington Post on the upcoming fifth season of "Mad Men" (premiering March 25th on AMC!).  He discussed his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Westfeldt, and her new movie, Friends with Kids.  On the benefits of "Mad Men's" year-and-a-half long hiatus from television, Jon Hamm had this to say:
"I was able to make Friends with Kids, which was exciting and a significant portion of our life for Jen and I."
Hamm, a.k.a. Don Draper, a.k.a. television's most perfectly nuanced character, a man whom heretofore I thought could do no wrong, just made a major grammar blunder in a national publication.  And it's an all-too-typical mistake: using the more formal-and-correct-sounding "I" where "me" is actually correct.

"I did what now?"
This particular gaffe is very close to my heart because I, like most over-educated, slightly pretentious people, made this mistake for years.  Even while I made good grammar a priority and a prerequisite, and even while the idea of using "went" instead of "gone" or using "was" in the subjunctive instead of "were" absolutely grated on my articulate sensibilities, I still fell into the trap of saying "I" instead of "me" when describing an event I attended with someone else. (The New York Times even accused President Obama of consistently making this error in his speeches.) This is because, I assume, it was forcefully hammered into us in school that it is proper to speak with yourself last, in the "I" form.

But that's not the rule, and once I started to become aware of the misuses of the formal "I" when describing an activity performed by multiple people, I began to slowly go insane.  The misuse is not so egregious that it immediately jumps out at you in a sentence, but if you start paying attention, you'll notice how widely abused this grammar mistake is.  So here's a quick tutorial and reminder so that I can begin to regain tiny, tiny kernels of my sanity when I read the descriptions on your Facebook photos.

The chicken IS the bread!!!!!!
(As a disclaimer, this post is not even MEANT to tackle the people who would ever DARE to put themselves first in a two-person sentence.  If you would ever say "ME AND JOE went to go get a KFC Double Down," then a) you don't deserve to put the wonder that is the KFC Double Down in your terrible mouth, and b) seriously? You're [ostensibly] an adult with a job and you can't follow the simple rule to put yourself LAST at ALL times NO EXCEPTIONS?  I bet you're one of those employees who can't follow the directions to wash his hands in the lavatory, either.  My God, I hope you don't work at KFC.)

But for those of you who get the basics but have fallen into a trap of defaulting to "Joe and I did whatever thing we did" no matter what the context, here's a quick reminder.  Whenever more than one person is doing the activity, the rule is simple:
  1. Always put the others first and yourself last. 
  2. Refer to yourself as you would if there were no others. 
That means, if you were talking about yourself alone, and you would be the subject of the sentence, continue to use "I."  But if you would be the object of the sentence, you're still the object even if someone else's proper name is included in your description.  An example serves us best:
  1. I am going to get shitfaced on St. Patrick's Day.
  2. Ashley and I are going to get shitfaced on St. Patrick's Day. 
  1. It was so nice of that Leprechaun to buy shots for me! 
  2. It was so nice of that Leprechaun to buy shots for Ashley and me! 
  3. NOT: It was so nice of that Leprechaun to buy shots for Ashley and I!
Do you see? Just pretend the other person wasn't there, like I did after my second Leprechaun shot and I couldn't find Ashley anymore.  Just to make sure, here are some more CORRECT examples:
  1. What was in those shots that Ashley and I took?  
  2. Those shots did not make Ashley and me feel very well. 
  3. Can someone get Ashley and me a cab to go home?
  4. You guys were right to not take those Leprechaun shots like Ashley and I did! 
It's simple!  So keep your speech strong, and stay away from Leprechaun shots -- no telling what's in those.  And for grammar's sake, on this year's March 17th, please don't forget that Saint Patrick's Day is possessive.

Until next time, 
The Strunk and White Girls

*Grammar is intentionally spelled incorrectly as "grammer" in the title to parody ironically incorrect use of the word. Don't be a douchenozzle and try to point out that we spelled it wrong. 
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Write comments
March 15, 2012 at 9:32 AM delete

When you were writing this, were you dressed in a middle school teacher's cardigan rife with chachkies and overly-vibrant reading glasses precariously perched on the tip of your nose? Because that's the image popped into my head while reading this.

March 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM delete

LOVE: Do you see? Just pretend the other person wasn't there, like I did after my second Leprechaun shot and I couldn't find Ashley anymore.

March 15, 2012 at 4:21 PM delete

On the subject of possessive holidays: is it Valentine's Day (a day for Saint Valentine) or Valentines' Day (a day for valentines, awww)????

March 20, 2012 at 11:54 AM delete

I think that, after a comment like that, it's a day for you to reflect on just why you're single.


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