Me, Myself, and I

Many Americans have trouble with me, myself, and I. For example, the following exchange may sound familiar: “Would you like to go to lunch with Jack and I?” “Thanks, but Bob and myself are eating in the cafeteria.” My question is whether this difficulty is unique to Americans, or do folks in other English-speaking countries have the same problem?

Well here is the snobby answer. Americans are far too busy with doing business to care about minor details. In the sentence above you got your message through clear enough. Why waste time on if it’s grammatically correct. I understood it. Americans would rather devote time to the meaning of the message and its content and not how it is delivered.

Well that is one theory anyway…

Maybe it’s from watching Cookie Monster a little too much when we where growing up.

“Me LOVES cookies!”

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The TV interviews with everyday people who saw a crash (or something else to get them on prime time news) speak this language roughly the same way we do.

The me-I, us-we, they-them problems crop up regardless of where they learned their English.

Any film or interview with the Beatles will answer your question:

“Ringo ate me last jelly baby!”

Elmer J. Fudd,
I own a mansion and a yacht.

KenP, why is that important to you? As long as the message gets across I think regional grammar use is excuseable.

I was raised with stupid books, books people today wouldn’t say were proper grammar. You know ‘See Dick Run.’ ‘See Jane Run.’

THe one I can’t believe still is ‘alot’ why do people still use that & where did it come from? It’s not a word.

I think Ken is asking if Americans are the only English speakers who can’t speak it correctly - I don’t he cares…

I know I do hear these kinds of errors and they are distracting to me as a listener. It’s as if the speaker just snapped his findgers, just once, just there.

The hardest thing I have ever had to listen to is a woman in her 30s who seems to have added “helping verbs” in all the wrong places:

“I had went to the store this morning.”

In speech it’s very forgivable. Almost everyone makes grammatical mistakes in speech every so often, and if you don’t then you can be looked on as weird. Or boring.

But when written, especially in a national publication, then that’s almost unforgivable. Editors not doing their job should be lined up and tickled to submission then fired.

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Certain social aspects are added every now and then. In the 70’s it was ‘ya know’ today it seems to be ‘like.’

‘Like, it was raining, like, ya know?’

The rules in French for use of je and moi are mostly the same as for English (nominative vs objective case)… but not entirely. I don’t think people get it quite as confused… but then, word placement in French is not as important as in English.

The reason for stressing correctness of grammar is mostly to avoid confusion. There aren’t many rules in English, and most verbs are the same (unlike French, Spanish, or German, where the verb forms change to correspond with the noun.) Thus, because there are so few rules, it makes it easy for people to think there are none.

But usually expressions like “between you and I” are people trying to sound distinguished. Boy, do they ever.

And Ken, if you are going to get picky on english, the correct way of writing it is:

'Me, myself and I."

Not as you wrote it:

'Me, myself, and I."

Me, myself and I
Perfectly proper unless doing so will cause confusion…

The extra comma used to be called “The Boston Comma” but even Elements of Style says to omit the last comma in a series - p.2.

BTW: There isn’t any punctuation in that little text that isn’t covered by a 5th grade English book.

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

You have to be careful in leaving off the final comma in a series like that. There is a famous dedication to a book (sorry, can’t remember the book or author) which reads:

Impressive parentage there…

“Drink your coffee! Remember, there are people sleeping in China.”

Dennis Matheson —
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb —

That’s where the “Perfectly proper unless doing so will cause confusion…” part might come into play.

People in Boston used to be very proper… Still, I wonder how many people were confused?

In answer to the original question, it’s something that English people sometimes have trouble with as well. In particular, where the first person pronoun follows one or more proper nouns as part of the object of the sentence (i.e. in the accusative case). For example: “Jane asked to John and I where we were going”.

I think that the root of the problem may be that children tend to say things like, “Me and John are going out now”, to which adults reply, “It’s not ‘me and John’, It’s ‘John and I’”, which confuses the question of whether it should be “me” or “I” with the question of which order the noun(s) and pronoun(s) should go in.

On a separate but related point, why is “I” always capitalised? We don’t use initial capitals for other pronouns and we don’t capitalise other single-letter words (like “a”).

Sorry, that should have been

“I” is capitalized for purely practical reasons. In older handwriting styles, an “i” by itself was likely to disappear.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

I would posit that “me-myself-I” errors are made more frequently in the U.K. than in the U.S… However, in my limited experience, it seems that you are less likely to hear that kind of grammatic faux pas in English spoken by Germans or the Swiss.

On the extraneous comma thing… I don’t always practice proper grammer when the rules seem to violate common sense. This is one of those cases. I always use “x, y, and z” because it is always clear what I mean. I don’t find the extra comma distracting. In fact, I often find it more distracting when the comma is missing. I sometimes have to stop and ask myself, “is this a simple list or a more complex construct?”.

Incidentally, that last sentence is another one that I’m always taking flak over. Technically, I know I shouldn’t use the trailing period because of the question mark enclosed in the quotes. My argument in support of the trailing period is that the context of the sentence is a statement, not a question, though the sentence contains a question. Therefore, both punctuation marks are required… “Not so!”, my grammar teacher exclaims. Though, this last sentence is just fine by her…

The most annoying thing I’ve noticed about English speakers lately is the total inability to use the right tense. Especially on tv. Everything is happening RIGHT NOW! and not when it actually happened, in the past.

For instance, a John F. Kennedy biography might say: “By early November, 1963, President Kennedy is getting ready for his trip to Dallas.” NO: President Kennedy WAS getting ready. President Kennedy IS dead and has been for a long time.

“By April 1944, the war in the war in the Pacific is excalating.”

And I’m not just talking sitcoms here, respected newscasters and intriguing documentaries are the culprits.

Are you with I?

“Shoplifting is a victimless crime. Like punching someone in the dark.” -Nelson Muntz.

The serial comma used to drive me crazy, too. It is here to stay, though, and many grammatical texts now support it as correct usage. I dislike it, but I find myself using it more and more often. grammatical slip is insidious. Hopefully things will not get worse. :wink:

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The worst are full of passionate intensity.