Me, I, we, us, he, him and myself
Aspen, CO Colorado
One need only look to the political coverage to observe that English is indeed our second language, the first being Butchered English.
Just the other night the hopeful heiress apparent, Hillary Clinton, speaking about Barack Obama, said, “I met he and his children.” Et tu, Hillary? Barack knows better.
To figure out when to use “he” or “him” or “me” or “I,” some mental prestidigitation is called for, but it’s not difficult once you get the hang of it.
If you’re not certain whether to say, “between you and I” or “between you and me,” do a simple, quick substitution exercise before the word leaps from your lips. Does your impending sentence translate to mean, “between we” or “between us”? Trust your ear. “Between we” doesn’t sound right. The correct answer is “US,” so you should always say, “between you and ME.”
“I” goes with “we;” “me” goes with “us.”
“He” and “she” go with “they;” “him” and “her” go with “them.”
In Hillary’s case, did she mean, “I met they” or “I met THEM”? You don’t have to have perfect pitch for your inner ear to whisper, “I met THEM.” “Him” goes with THEM; “He” goes with THEY. “I met HIM and his children (them)” is right. “He and his wife (they) are going to a party” is correct. “Him and his wife are going to a party” would translate to (wrong) “THEM are going to a party.”
“My mother and me are arguing,” is really saying, “Us are arguing,” rather than (correct) “WE are arguing,” so you should say, “My mother and I are arguing.”
A refuge for those unclear on the concept of “me” and “I” is the substitution of the word, “myself.”
John McCain is a big offender of the misuse of “myself,” and its erroneous use is apparently actually taught in police academies because it is rampant in law enforcement vocabularies. “The perpetrator and myself proceeded to the jail,” is a mistake as common as dirt in police reports (Sheriff Bob Braudis excluded). The officer should write, “The perpetrator and I proceeded to the jail.” (Translate: “WE proceeded to the jail.”)
The rule here is to never, ever employ the word “myself” as a substitute for “me” or “I” because you will never, ever be correct.
The word “myself” is used to refer to you and you alone, not to refer to you and another party.
“I excused myself from the table” is correct, as is, “I thought that up all by myself,” and, less common, “I myself have gone that route.”
You can save yourself a world of grief by remembering the rules for “me” and “I” and eradicating the word “myself” from your vocabulary. Just say, “I got up from the table,” “I thought that up on my own,” or “I’ve gone that route,” leaving “myself” out of it entirely.
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