A Tricky Case for Choosing 'Me' Over 'I'


Betsy in Albany had a great question about “I” versus “me.” Consider the sentence: “John’s hidden agenda was to make George and I say nice things about him.”

Should that “I” be “me”?

I talk a lot about choosing between subject pronouns like “I” and object pronouns like “me.” If you’ve been paying attention, you know the answer has a lot to do with whether the pronoun is the subject of a verb. The litmus test is usually just: Look for a nearby verb and ask if it’s missing a subject. If so, you probably need “I.” Conversely, if there’s a verb or preposition nearby that seems to need an object, you probably want “me.”

I see now that I’ve let you down. If you look at “say” in “make George and I say nice things,” you could easily conclude that it needs a subject like “I.” After all, it’s “I say,” not “me say.”

That would be wrong. The correct pronoun in this sentence is “me.” The reasons are complicated but worth a moment of your time. Here's my recent column looking at why this sentence calls for "me" and not "I."

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