Why are the smallest words in English so difficult to master? Even native speakers get very confused with the English pronouns I, me, myself, and my!
Why do we have so many different words to describe the same person? Each word is a different part of speech and has a different role to play in a sentence.
I is a subject pronoun. Use it before the verb.
A subject does the action of a verb in a sentence.
I spoke to my friend yesterday.
I went to the movies last night.
When you have a double subject that includes I, always use and I.
My mom and I love movies.
I and my mom love Christmas movies.
My mom and I or my mom and me?
If you are not sure if you should use I or me with another person, remove the other person from the sentence and check if the sentence is correct:
My mom andI love Christmas movies. My mom andme love movies.
Me love movies is not a correct English sentence. The subject should be I, so you should say my mom and I.
Me is an object pronoun. Use it after the verb.
An object receives the action of the verb in a sentence.
He asked me a question.
She gave me her camera.
My dad told me to call.
Important note: Not all verbs are followed by an object. This is why it’s so important to focus on learning sentences. You can’t use me after certain verbs. For example,
He suggest me...
She say me… Can you explain me … ?
Me can also be the object of a preposition. After prepositions, use me.
Are you talking to me?
When you talk about two or more people including yourself, you can use me and … or … and me.
This is a photo of me and my brother.
This is a photo of my brother and me.
You will hear a lot of native speakers use me as a subject pronoun and say, “Me and my mom love movies.” It is common to hear this in informal, spoken English. However, many people consider this to be incorrect.
When I research grammar lessons, one of the books I use is a reference book called Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. It is published by the Oxford University Press, and it is considered the “bible” for English teachers. (That means it’s a very important book!) Here’s what Swan has to say about using me and as a subject (page 404):
These structures are often condemned as ‘incorrect’, but they have been common in educated speech for centuries. (There are examples of me in double subjects in Jane Austen’s novels, written around 1800.) They are, however, restricted to a very informal style. They are not correct in formal speech or writing.
Don’t say me and in the subject of a sentence when you are at work, or if you are taking any kind of English test (TOEFL, IEFLTS, etc.). If you do say it in informal conversation, be aware that some people may correct you.
Myself is a reflexive pronoun.
It refers back to the subject of the sentence.
Use myself instead of me when the object is the same person as the subject. In other words, use myself when you have already used I in a sentence, but you are still talking about yourself. Myself becomes the object.
I bought myself a new car!
I gave myself a manicure.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt myself.
Use myself after a preposition when the object of the preposition is the same as the subject of the sentence, or the when object of the preposition and the object pronoun are the same person.
I am proud of myself!
I did it all by myself!
He asked me some questions about myself.
When I was researching this topic, I discovered a strange guideline: Don’t use myself after a preposition of place. Use me. Don’t ask me why.
I put my bag down beside me.
I closed the door behind me.
I put my book down in front of me.
I told my friend to sit next to me.
You may hear a lot of native speakers say myself instead of I or me. Native speakers can’t remember when to use I or me, but they are so afraid of using the wrong pronoun that they use myself instead. This is very common, even though it is grammatically incorrect. Don’t do this.
My is a possessive pronoun.
It shows who possesses or owns the noun. It used to be called a possessive adjective.
That’s my car!
Have you met my family?
What if you want to talk about something that you and another person have or possess?
This is my mother’s and my favorite movie!
That’s correct. You could rewrite the sentence.
My mother and I love this movie! It’s our favorite!
I included my in this lesson because I noticed native speakers writing something very strange recently. Here’s a sentence I saw recently on Facebook. This is not the first time that I have noticed a native speaker writing this:
It’s my husband’s and I’s first date alone since our son was born.
Remember the trick to determine what the correct word is? Take away the other person in the sentence.
It’s my husband’s andI’s first date
No, that’s not correct. You can’t make I possessive. Here how the sentence should have been written:
It’s my husband’s and my first date alone since our son was born.
It’s our first date alone since our son was born.