A reader challenged me to tackle the conflict between first-person pronouns within compound subject and object strings such as you and I versus you and me. Because I hate to see strife between perfectly decent pronouns, I gladly accept this challenge!
You and I versus You and Me
Technically, correct usage is determined by the pronoun’s position as a subject (I) or object (me) in the sentence. However, here is a quick tip: Just eliminate the other person.1 I know, I know, eliminating people sounds so rude. But don’t worry, we can welcome these rejected individuals back into our sentences as soon as we decide if we are an I or a me.
First, let’s look at an example with two pronouns:
- You and me went to the airport.
- You and I went to the airport.
By removing you, example 2 becomes the obvious choice because “me went to the airport” is just terribly wrong—unless you are a caveman character in a really bad movie.
Let’s continue with a new example involving a noun (Mom):
- Lois sent a postcard to Mom and me.
- Lois sent a postcard to Mom and I.
After eliminating Mom (so harsh!), we can see that example 1 is correct because we wouldn’t say “Lois sent a postcard to I.”
Visit “How to Write Compound Possessives with Pronouns” for a discussion on I, mine, and my within compound possessives. For example, should we write Doug and I’s dog, Doug and my dog, or Doug’s and my dog?
We may not achieve world peace, but at least we can strive for harmony between first-person pronouns, right?
- Bryan A. Garner, Garner’s Modern English Usage, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 734; William A. Sabin, The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 1054.