## Can "me" be a subject?

8

1

Me and my friend, Tim, are gonna predict the winners of the next dancing with the stars!

I found this sentence from a book.

I wonder why we don’t use “I and my friend” since I think it must be the subject of “are gonna predict”

1May I be a subject? – Sean D – 2014-05-02T18:34:52.727

It's the subject of your question's title. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE – 2014-05-03T05:32:39.223

2

@R. But we typically make a distinction between use and mention. The word is not used as a subject (which is what the question really means), it is only mentioned.

– snailplane – 2014-05-03T06:46:15.043

12

It can be a subject, but only in the sense that people can use incorrect grammar. It isn't correct grammar, for the reason you correctly state.

The correct usage is "My friend Tim and I are going to predict[...]". So you are correct, except common usage is to place the self last in the list, preceded by other pronouns, and putting any nouns first. So "My mother, Jane, he and I will get together tonight" is the typical order. (Note that in this sentence, my mother and Jane are two different people. If Jane were my mother, the sentence would read "My mother Jane, he and I will get together tonight." It's interesting how much a comma can change a meaning.)

On the other hand, it is the sort of thing that young people say to exasperate their elders. :)

@DavidRicherby: The prosody of "I and" is horrible; I would consider "Me and Bob, in that order, are going to cast Blast of Blinding against the ogre" to be more natural than "I and Bob...". I would not consider the usage so natural without the prepositional phrase between the compound subject and the verb. From a grammatical standpoint, I would consider the structure comparable to "Two people--me and Bob, in that order--are...", in which case the subject would be "Two people". Since saying "two people", however, doesn't really add much meaning to the sentence, the words are omitted. – supercat – 2015-07-17T20:30:01.263

2I think the commas surrounding the names make it difficult to parse and read. I read extra pauses into it that wouldn't be there in speaking. I'd much prefer "My friend Tim and I are going to predict..." With [my friend Tim] being one entity and [I] being the other. If I saw the version with the commas in a contextless void, I would assume you were talking to someone you were referring to as "my friend" about Tim (Tim is not the friend) and that the second comma was a mistake. That is, you meant to say "My friend, (I think you should know that) Tim and I are going to predict..." – WendiKidd – 2014-05-02T18:21:11.220

2Actually, now that I'm thinking about it more.... With both the commas surrounding Tim, it actually reads like all 3 of you are going to make the prediction. "A nameless person I call my friend, + Tim, + Me" = people making the prediction. It reads like a list. Consider "My sister, Joe, Jacob and I are all going to the party tonight." You don't assume Joe is the sister. – WendiKidd – 2014-05-02T18:24:21.083

2I agree with @Wendikidd on it; in fact my first instinct was to edit the post and take out the accidental commas. – Hellion – 2014-05-02T19:16:01.930

I think you're right on the italics. I do not agree with the use of italics here, although there was a character minimum that the editor was having to observe. I don't believe that the use of italics is condoned by the Chicago Manual of Style in this situation. I've removed them, in any case. Thanks for the improvement. – BobRodes – 2014-05-02T19:29:57.220

@BobRodes I just checked the edit history; it was an anonymous edit and the edit message said they only added the italics to hit the character count. I agree there's no points in italics there, and you should feel free to edit them back out. (I don't think the editor is likely to see your comment, unfortunately.) Re: commas, I see you've removed them from the Tim example but they remain in the Jane one. What are your thoughts on this? – WendiKidd – 2014-05-02T19:31:29.940

@wendikidd Yeah, just noticed that and changed my comment. :) As for the Jane example, I am meaning my mother to be someone other than Jane. Which bears out the point made on the first sentence. There, I've explained that interesting little wrinkle. :) – BobRodes – 2014-05-02T19:39:03.807

1

@WendiKidd Commas don't indicate pauses; they indicate sentence structure. "My friend(,) Tim(,) and I", is one of the standard examples used in arguments about the serial comma. If you want to make it unambiguous, "I and my friend, Tim, are..." or "Tim, who is my friend, and I are..." (or even, in some circumstances, "Tim is my friend. He and I are...")

– David Richerby – 2014-05-02T20:56:58.340

1@DavidRicherby another way to make it unambiguous is to remove the comma, of course. – BobRodes – 2014-05-02T21:07:46.863

I find "He, my mother, Jane, and I ..." more accessible. Putting an endophoric "he" first reduces the cognitive load on the listener because there are fewer entities like "my mother" between the pronoun "he" and the context that establishes its referent. – Mike Samuel – 2014-05-03T19:57:14.433

That's an interesting hypothesis. I suppose that we'd have to do some experiments monitoring brain-wave activity to get any data about the cognitive load. Another hypothesis is that the cognitive load increases due to having to keep track of the referent through the process of introducing the new entities. It might well be that different individuals find different orders easier to process. – BobRodes – 2014-05-04T15:48:33.463

11

No, me can't be a subject:

1. *Me went to the movies.

This is something no native speaker would say. It's out-and-out wrong. If you say this sentence, you sound like a caveman.

But the following sentence is very different:

2. Me and my friend Tim went to the movies.　　(often considered non-standard)

Although this is perceived as informal and non-standard, lots of native speakers talk this way! It's a very natural sentence, and you'll hear people say this all the time.

So it's clearly a big mistake to say that these two usages are wrong for the same reason. Sentence 1 is ungrammatical—me can't be a subject. But me and my friend can! It may be considered informal and even non-standard, but sentence 2 is natural and grammatical.

Although sentence 2 is very natural, children are taught in school that it's incorrect. They're taught that they must say the following instead:

3. My friend Tim and I went to the movies.

And so, as a student of Standard English, you should say it this way too. Instead of the natural order and case (me and X), you should use the opposite order and case (X and I). There's no reason like "me can't be a subject" or "I must appear last because it's more polite". The only reason is that students are taught to speak this way, and so you should, too.

Just keep in mind that you'll hear it the other way all the time, especially informally, and that when native speakers talk that way they're not speaking incorrectly.

(As an aside, the commas around Tim are unnecessary, but the difference between "me and my friend Tim" and "me and my friend, Tim" should be asked as a separate question.)

In this answer, the * symbol indicates that a sentence is ungrammatical.

@barlop: In cases where either order would work sense semantically, "My friend and I" would be preferred. In situations where order is important semantically, I regard the use of "I" anywhere but the last place as generally awkward. Substituting "me" may irk some grammarians, but it makes the prosody flow much more nicely. – supercat – 2015-07-17T20:34:22.623

Ok, going to be a bit of a niggler here - just for fun!. What's the Subject in *Me is who I want to be"? (Or do you think it would be better with "I is who I want to be"? ;)) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2016-01-04T22:41:47.397

I've never heard a posh person say "me and my friend", more like the kind of person that'd say innit, would say it. – barlop – 2014-05-03T18:11:24.243

4

The difference between "me" and "I" is well-addressed in this article. The sentence you have above is technically ungrammatical, because you wouldn't say:

Me am gonna predict the winners of the next Dancing with the Stars!

However native English speakers would accept your original sentence as correct in colloquial English because in compound subjects even native speakers often fail to use the subject pronoun 'I'. This behavior is well explained in the article linked above:

A result of this is that kids who would never say "Me am going to the store" will say "My friends and me are going to the store." They don't give the case to the nouns in the compound. But at a certain point they may get corrected often enough — "It's 'My friends and I'" — that they learn that "and I" is the correct form.

As mentioned in another answer, however, the word order you used is slightly less common (though not incorrect), and more often you might hear either of these sentences:

My friend Tim and me are gonna predict the winners of the next Dancing with the Stars!*
My friend Tim and I are gonna predict the winners of the next Dancing with the Stars!

3The sad thing is how often the kids will be "corrected" when they say "John wants to come along with Tim and me", and end up believing that "and I" is always correct in any part of the sentence. – Hellion – 2014-05-02T19:23:17.103

2

It seems to me that me can be (or look a lot like) a subject, when used as an emphatic form of I:

Me, I'm going to stay home and study.

This might be a way for the studious person speaking to distance himself from his dissolute friends who are off to the pub.

I believe that the above is both idiomatically and grammatically correct. Question is - is "me" considered part of the subject? If it is not, can someone tell me what it is?

On a related note - nobody would say "I and my friend are going to predict...". So let me ask the question differently. Clearly we can say:

You and I can do this

Then ought there not to be a syntactically correct way of changing the order? My first choice would be:

Me and you can do this

but I accept that this doesn't sound quite right. However, I'm pretty sure that

Me and you, we can do this

is correct - and follows the same approach as the first example above. In other words - "Me" used at the start of the sentence for emphasis, but repeated in another word which becomes the "actual subject" (in this case, "we"). It is clearly better than

I and you can do this

Of course in the quoted sentence, this is only one of the problems.

The use of the comma: "Me and my friend, Tim, " implies one of two things. Either the speaker has only one friend, and that friend's name is 'Tim'; or the speaker is addressing someone called "Tim" while explaining that he and his friend are going to do something.

Then there is "gonna"...

And finally "the winners of the next dancing with the stars", where Dancing with the stars, which is the title of a TV show, needs to be shown to be a title by either using italics, or putting the name in quotes; either way, as a name it ought to be capitalized (and quite probably fully capitalized: Dancing With The Stars is how it is shown on the owners' website).

1

In "Me, I'm going to stay home and study", me is an example of Left Dislocation, an adjunct cataphorically related to a pronoun in the main clause, in this case I.

– snailplane – 2014-05-02T21:09:39.140

1Then there's "Stupid me managed to forget my briefcase" or "Lucky me!" etc... – rjh – 2014-05-02T23:43:38.870

1@snailplane I've always considered it an abbreviated version of "As for me...". – WendiKidd – 2014-05-03T02:09:49.570

"Me and you, we can do this" sorry, no. You and I, we can do this. We're not debating how people actually talk, but proper usage, right? – JTP - Apologise to Monica – 2014-05-03T18:21:45.917

@joetaxpayer - are you sure about that? Do you think that "me, I am staying home" is wrong too? I think one ought tone allowed to choose the order of enumeration - I want first person, then second person. In that case I see no other option but the one I chose. Are you saying that language rules prohibit me from using that order, be emphatic, and grammatically correct - all at the same time? – Floris – 2014-05-03T18:27:01.190

2@JoeTaxpayer Left dislocation has been standard since the days of Old English. These days it's mostly informal or poetic, but that doesn't make it nonstandard. It is important to point out to learners what is inappropriate in a formal setting, of course! But don't mistake informal for incorrect. – snailplane – 2014-05-03T18:44:21.587

@Floris - no, I agree that "me, I am staying home" is fine. I struggle to see how 'me and you' is ever appropriate. You are I are going out. He will join you and me. – JTP - Apologise to Monica – 2014-05-03T19:36:51.400

@joetaxpayer - if "me" by itself is OK, how can it be wrong in conjunction with "and you"? It's a marginal case but I fail to see what rule is being broken. – Floris – 2014-05-03T20:23:34.653

1You and me, we can do this. (Me and you, we can agree to disagree. I still have the dreaded misuse of it's to conquer.) – JTP - Apologise to Monica – 2014-05-03T20:36:46.243

1

The objective pronoun "me" should be used as an object, and the subjective pronoun "I" should be used as a subject. Makes sense.

Conventionally, the first person pronoun within a compound object or subject is positioned closest to the verb or preposition in the sentence structure.

objective: "Frank gave the baseball to me and Sam"

subjective: "My son and I are going to Disney World"

The following reference describes many pronoun grammar rules that are often used incorrectly.

https://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/pronoun.asp

1

This is interesting - in speech, you will often hear people doing this, and it sounds natural - to me, as a native speaker, there's nothing wrong with it, even though it uses "me", which you normally don't find in the subject.