We all grew up learning the difference between I and me, who and whom, but do we really understand when to use them? There are many times when people use the wrong form, which can lead to confusion. In this article, we will explore the correct usage of these pronouns so that you can sound more knowledgeable and avoid any embarrassing mistakes.
When To Use I or ME
I and me are personal pronouns, which are commonly confused in speech and writing. Here are the correct ways to use them.
When to Use I
I is a subjective pronoun, meaning that it should be used in the subject of a sentence. The subject is whoever is doing the action. If you are doing something, you would say “I am doing something.”
- An easy way to tell if you are looking at the subject of the sentence and should use I is to try to substitute other pronouns.
Any time you could use the pronouns we, you, she, he, or they you are looking at the subject of a sentence. If you can substitute any of these pronouns in place of the first person personal pronouns, you should be using I rather than me.
I wanted more cake.
If you were unsure if I was correct, you could try to use she instead.
She wanted more cake.
Because she fits correctly, you would know that I is the right subject pronoun.
When to Use Me
Me is used in the object of a sentence or after a preposition. The object of the sentence is whoever or whatever is receiving the action of the verb.
“The duck followed me at the park.” The speaker in this last sentence is the one who is being followed, so we know that he or she is the object of the verb follow. Because the speaker is the object of the sentence, an objective pronoun will be used, meaning me.
Just like with I, you can substitute an object pronoun if you are unsure whether to use I or me. These object pronouns include her, him, you, and them. Object pronouns serve as a direct or indirect object to the verb
Jane talked to them.
In this case, because you could use them as a correct pronoun, you know you should use me.
Jane talked to me.
Most people confuse I and me when using two nouns in the subject or object. “John and I went to the store.”
In this case, “John and I” is the subject of the sentence because “John and I” are the ones who went to the store. Because this is the subject, you need to use I.
“The baby went to the park with John and me.” Because the baby is the one who went to the park, you know that “John and me” is not the subject, so you use me.
The easiest way to test whether you should use I or me when dealing with two nouns is to remove the extra noun and see if the sentence is still correct.
John and I saw a movie.
If you remove John, the sentence is correct if you say “I saw a movie.” It is not correct if you say “Me saw a movie.” This means that you should use the subjective pronoun I when you use both nouns in this sentence.
Who or Whom Checker
The case of who or whom is the same as I and me. Who is the subjective case, like I, while whom is the objective case and also follows prepositions.
This rule applies whether these words are used in questions or in order to add extra information in a sentence, meaning as a relative pronoun.
Who is going to the movie?
I am going to the movie with whom?
Whom Who do you think is the prettiest? The easiest way to determine the correct usage in a question is to rephrase the sentence into a statement. Instead of “ Whom do you think is prettiest,” you could rephrase the sentence into, “You think Sarah is the prettiest.” By rephrasing, it becomes clear that you are the one doing the thinking, so the object is the person you think is prettiest, meaning that you should use whom .
A reader correctly pointed out that the usage of whom in the above example is incorrect. “Do you think,” in the above example is a parenthetical phrase, meaning a phrase that is not essential to understanding the meaning of the rest of the sentence.
- Because parenthetical phrases may be removed without changing the meaning of, you may ignore those parts of sentences when deciding whether Who or whom should be used.
In this case, when we remove the parenthetical phrase, the sentence becomes “Who/m is the prettiest.” Because this could be rephrased as “She is the prettiest,” rather than “Her is the prettiest,” we know that the subjective case Who is correct.
Thanks to our reader who not only caught my mistake and taught us a lesson in parentheticals, but also proves that Who and Whom can be confusing for everyone.
In the case of relative pronouns, it can be more difficult to define whether the pronoun is the subject or object.
The girl, who wore a red dress at the party, is coming to dinner.
Because the girl wore the red dress, the clause is subjective, so who is the correct word.
Jill, whom you met last week, is coming to the party.
In this case, you were the one who met Jill, so the clause is objective, meaning that whom is correct.
To determine the correct form when using relative pronouns, break the sentence down into smaller sections. “Who wore the red dress at the party?” could be rephrased into, “She wore the red dress at the party,” so you should use a subject pronoun. “You met whom last week?” can be “You met her last week,” so you use the objective whom.
Who vs. Whom Recap
Who and whom are often used interchangeably, but there is actually a subtle difference between the two.
- Who is always used when referring to the subject of a sentence, while whom is used when referring to the object.
For example, if you were to say “Who is going to the store?”, the word “who” would be correct because it is the subject of the sentence. However, if you were to say “To whom should I give this package?”, the word “whom” would be correct because it is the object of the sentence.
So when in doubt, ask yourself if the word refers to the subject or object of the sentence. If it’s the subject, use “who”; if it’s the object, use “whom”.
How do I remember when to use “I” and “Me”?
It can be difficult to know when to use “I” or “me”? While it may seem like a small distinction, using the correct pronoun can actually make a big difference in your writing.
- In general, “I” should be used when referring to yourself as the subject of a sentence, and “me” should be used when you are the object.
For example, you would say “I am going to the store,” but “The store is for me.”
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you are using the pronoun in a list of items, you should use “me.” For example, you would say “The store is for me and my friends,” not “The store is for I and my friends.”
Additionally, if you are using the pronoun as the object of a preposition, you should use “me.” For example, you would say “He gave the ball to me,” not “He gave the ball to I.”
Remembering these simple guidelines will help ensure that you always use the correct pronoun in your writing.
Do I use “I” after or before verbs?
Do I use “I” before or after verbs? The answer is simple: before the verb.
For example, “I am writing a paper.” See? Easy peasy. Now you try it. include an infinitive verb. For example, “To write a paper, I am going to need a pen and some paper.”
Tell me the best way to use someone in a sentence?
While “someone” is technically a pronoun, it can be difficult to use properly. After all, if you’re talking about someone, you should already know who that is. However, there are times when “someone” can be used effectively.
- For example, if you want to add emphasis to a sentence, you can say “Someone needs to take out the trash.”
In this case, using “someone” highlights the fact that there is an unspecified person who needs to take action.
Additionally, “someone” can be used to create a sense of suspense or mystery.
- For instance, if you’re telling a story and don’t want to give away the identity of the protagonist just yet, you might say “Someone was coming up the stairs.”
By using “someone” instead of giving a specific name, you add an element of intrigue that will keep your listeners guessing. So while “someone” may not be the most precise pronoun, it can be used in creative ways to add interest to your writing.
Frequently Asking Questions (FAQs)
“Who” is a pronoun used as a subject to refer to people. It is always used when asking questions. “That” is a pronoun used as a subject or an object to refer to things, and it can be either singular or plural. “Whom” is also a pronoun, but it is only used when it is the object of a verb or preposition.
If the question can be answered with a subject pronoun (he, she, it, or they), it is grammatically correct to use who.
Whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition. For example, “He gave the book to whom?” or “To whom did he give the book?”
The answer to whether it is correct to say “to who” or “to whom” depends on the context of the sentence. If you can replace the word with “he” or “she”, then it is grammatically correct to use who.
If you’re ever unsure about whether to use “who” or “whom,” a good rule of thumb is to use “who” for the sentence subject and “whom” for the object. So, if you’re writing a sentence like “I talked to the girl who won the race,” you would use “who” because “girl” is the subject of the sentence.
It is the correct choice to say “whom did you meet”. If you can replace the word with “he” or “she,” then you use who
It is grammatically correct to use who when the word is performing the action. For example, “Who wrote this book?” or “Who are you talking to?” Use whom when the word is receiving the action. For example, “To whom should I address this letter?” or “For whom do you work?”
To whom it may concern is technically correct grammar. It is always advisable to be in formal writing, especially when you do not know the person you are addressing.
The main rule to remember here is that if you can replace the word with “he” or “she,” then you use who. For example, “Who wants to go to the movies?” can be rewritten as “He wants to go to the movies.” Therefore, the correct answer is to use who. This can be confusing because in informal spoken English, these words are often used interchangeably.
If you want to make sure that your writing sounds sophisticated and intelligent, it’s important to use the right subject pronouns at the right time. “I or Me” should be used when referring to yourself, while Who or Whom should be reserved for talking about other people. By following our tips, you can avoid making embarrassing mistakes with these tricky words and keep up with native speakers.
So the next time you find yourself in a debate over whether it’s “I or Me” or “Who or Whom” you’ll know exactly what to say!