Monday, November 22, 2010

When did "me" become obsolete?

This post is not about hip dysplasia or skating as I think we've had enough of those. No, this post is about grammar, another favorite topic of mine.

When I was a kid and I would say, "me and Samantha are going to the mall!" my mom would yell, "Samantha and I!!!!!!" I'll bet your mom did the same thing to you. Thanks to mom, I never progressed to using the even-more-heinous expression, "me and her are going to the mall!" (My own step-kids did, and they are still suffering the consequences.)

Unfortunately, some moms didn't fully explain. As a result, "me" has suddenly become the ultimate unfashionable grammar sin, even when "me" is the correct word to use. There are so many people who are scared to misuse the word "me" that they have resorted to misusing the word "I," which somehow sounds more cultured and probably won't incur the wrath of mom.

Here are some recent examples uttered by people who should know better:

~"The report was delivered by Carol and I."

~"Hawaii was the ultimate getaway vacation for my husband and I."

~"Mom, can you drive Samantha and I to the mall?" (OK, I made this one up, but you get my point.)

I think this rebound effect started because some people had no idea why "me" was wrong in certain sentences and so they just avoided the word altogether. The rest of us, even some who were paying attention in grade school, play along because the majority now shuns "me" and we don't want to look stupid or gauche. Some people avoid controversy by sheepishly inserting the word "myself" instead of uttering the taboo "me" or the incorrect "I," as in:

"The report was delivered by Carol and myself."

Ugh.

I have noticed this widespread pronoun confusion only recently, although perhaps it's been going on for a long time and I've just tuned it out. Radio announcers, professionals and teachers (ouch) are now muddling up the English language by unnecessarily avoiding the word "me." Myself? I won't join the trend, even if people think less of I.

4 comments:

Matt said...

Hear hear!

laurie said...

agreed. I remember learning to break the sentence up as if each of the two people were not together and seeing what made sense:

The paper was delivered my Sam and I
The paper was delivered by Sam
The paper was delivered by I (wrong)
= the paper was delivered by Sam and me.

Remember that technique?

TnT said...

This just in ... reality TV imitates life. Quote from Jennifer Grey on Dancing With the Stars tonight: "...(the song) was for me and Patrick ... uh, Patrick and I ..."

Uh, Jennifer, you had it right the first time!

Scarlett said...

OMG This is a huge pet peeve of mine! And I use exactly the technique that laurie mentions. But trying to correct people and explain it just seems futile. Especially when they are supposed to be more educated than "I"... LOL