Is it "I" or "me" in "Keep Tom and I/me updated"?

37

8

In this case what is correct?

1. Keep Tom and I updated.

or

1. Keep Tom and me updated.

I understand that me is an object pronoun. And therefore I feel the second option is correct.

Especially, because I would say "Keep him updated" and also "Keep me updated". Instead of "Keep he updated" or "Keep I updated". But something about saying "Keep him and me updated" feels wrong.

However I am not sure, because several people have told me that in this case I is the correct option because it is being used in conjunction with a name (Tom) and not a pronoun. Is that correct?

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– ColleenV – 2018-06-11T20:50:03.540

56

You are correct: me is the object pronoun and should be used here, since it is going in the object position.

Normally you would probably say "keep us updated", so "keep him and me updated" may feel a bit off even though it's perfectly correct.

As to the people who tell you that you should always use "I" in conjunction with a name: they are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Ignore them! It's a form of "hypercorrection"--when you "correct" something that's already right based on some rule that doesn't actually apply.

Too many people have gone from:

"you never say 'Tom and me went to the store' (because "Tom and me" is the subject, so you need I instead of me)"

to

"You never say 'Tom and me', ever"

and then had to invent a reason for their mis-remembered rule.

It's only hypercorrection if you consider it ungrammatical in the first place, so it seems circular to do so. – GoDucks – 2016-01-06T22:50:49.397

@GoDucks, I think I am in very good company when I say that "keep I updated" and "keep Tom and I updated" are both ungrammatical. – Hellion – 2016-01-07T05:38:24.410

Thanks, I searched online and I couldn't find any rule regarding the use of names like they told me. Thanks for the clear examples. – Dzyann – 2014-05-15T19:22:43.767

20Hellion, the rule I learned was to leave out "Tom and" and then use whatever I would use in that sentence. "I went to the store" becomes "Tom and I went to the store". "Keep me updated" becomes "Keep Tom and me updated". Is that rule correct? – corsiKa – 2014-05-15T23:30:20.833

5@corsika, Yes, that is the correct way to do it. – Hellion – 2014-05-16T02:09:44.620

2"Tom is taller than me" or "Tom is taller than I am" -- both are correct. "Tom is taller than I" is WRONG. – Phil Perry – 2014-05-16T14:02:45.550

6@PhilPerry That is very arguable. More used? Definitely. Wrong? Not if you consider "than" as being a conjunction, in which case the last part of the phrase "Tom is taller than I [am tall]" is elided. – msam – 2014-05-16T15:04:51.360

@msam that looks like another question for the site, I am confused now. Isn't there a rule for that? – Dzyann – 2014-05-16T16:13:57.963

1

@msam See this if you wish. I'd tend to agree with Phil intuitively, but intuition isn't necessarily the best guide in grammar situations and could easily just codify common usage.

– Voo – 2014-05-17T17:43:40.300

1

– msam – 2014-05-19T07:08:23.840

33

I think it's still simpler than any of the other answers yet. Just remove the other party and determine which version of 'I'/'Me' work for the sentence.

I went to the store.
Sue made a cake for me.

Then, add the other party back into the sentence, putting the other party first:

Tom & I went to the store.
Sue made a cake for my friend & me.

That's it.

8

Your understanding is correct. The reason that people often say things like "keep Tom and I updated" is a bit convoluted. I see Hellion has put an answer up while I'm writing this, and what he says is correct.

Colloquial AmE often substitutes me for I in the subject of the sentence when there is more than one person involved (e. g. "Me and Tom went to the circus"). Back in the 20th century, teachers routinely corrected children on this. Since the correction was always from "Me and Tom" or "Tom and me" to "Tom and I" ("Mom gave Tom and me some ice cream", being already correct, wasn't corrected), the misconception that always saying "I" was correct took hold with children who had trouble with the concept of subject and object.

So, we have our teachers to blame for this. :) Also, I suspect that the "rule" that using the subject pronoun in conjunction with a name comes from an imperfect understanding of what teachers were trying to teach. People who will not say "him and me went to the circus" will indeed say "Tom and me went to the circus". I do remember one of my grade school teachers explaining that you had to be careful when there was a name involved to use I instead of me.

4The teachers were overzealous. By trying so hard to prevent students from saying, "Tom and me need to keep getting updates," they never bothered to tell us that we shouldn't say, "Keep sending those updates to Tom and I." – J.R. – 2014-05-15T21:15:08.097

1I hear "Tom and I" at the end of sentences all the time, almost always incorrectly. And you can't say anything without being "that guy"... =\ – corsiKa – 2014-05-15T23:31:00.773

2"Colloquial AmE often substitutes me for I in the subject of the sentence" - not just AmE, this is extremely common in British English. (Source: I am British.) – GMA – 2014-05-16T03:57:27.487

Ah!! now it makes sense. It seemed totally weird for me that the rule would changed when you use a Name. Considering that both are nouns, thanks for the information! – Dzyann – 2014-05-16T13:27:07.080

Then there's the hoary old "(they) Who is it? (you) It's me!". I remember teachers insisting that I should say "It is I", but that just sounds pretentious and odd to me. – Phil Perry – 2014-05-16T14:05:30.347

@PhilPerry I'd say this one is still a bit up in the air. For example, "Hello?" "Is Phil there?" "This is he/him." Which do you use? (Or do you avoid it by saying something like "This is Phil"?) I usually say this is he, but I also generally say Hi, it's me. Unless I want to sound hoary and old (which of course I often do), and then I say it is I. Googling around I find this nice little article on the subject.

– BobRodes – 2014-05-16T15:07:37.757

The above article also mentions Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, 3rd Edition, which looks like such fun that I just coughed up 12 bucks and bought the Kindle edition.

– BobRodes – 2014-05-16T15:09:06.877

@PhilPerry: you can probably outwit those teachers if they are pretentious, since then they'd probably prefer "It is whom?" to "It is who?". So although the verb "to be" can do the strange thing of taking two subjects instead of a subject and object, it doesn't have to, and what they're actually teaching is a particular style. That style is formal if it sounds OK to the person saying it. It's pretentious if you're always selecting the most pedantic rule to apply in a given circumstance, with "whom" out-pedanting "is has two subjects" ;-) – Steve Jessop – 2014-05-18T17:00:35.170

4

In this case what is correct?

1. Keep Tom and I updated. <---- nominative case "I"

2. Keep Tom and me updated. <---- accusative case "me"

Both of your versions could easily be heard in the conversation of people whose status as speakers of today's standard English is clear. But unfortunately, examples similar to your #1 version with nominative "I" ("Keep Tom and I updated") are nevertheless condemned as incorrect or illiterate by many teachers and pedants and usage manuals.

That previous paragraph is a paraphrase of a paragraph on page 107 of a highly regarded textbook (which was published 2005) by Huddleston and Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (ASITEG):

• The pattern in [57.ii.b ] (% They invited Sandy and I ) is heard constantly in the conversation of people whose status as speakers of Standard English is clear, but it is nevertheless condemned as incorrect or illiterate by many usage manuals. For this reason it is not so common in print: editors will often 'correct' it. Nonetheless, examples are certainly found. Those who condemn it simply assume that the case of a pronoun in a coordination must be the same as when it stands alone. Actual usage is in conflict with this assumption.

And so, many teachers might consider that it would be safer for a student of English to use only examples similar to version #2 with accusative "me" ("Keep Tom and me updated"), because it is supposedly correct English.

But be aware that there are many native English speakers of today's standard English who do sometimes intentionally use the nominative "I" in examples similar to yours. And so, try not to, er, correct their English.

For many speakers of today's standard English, the grammar rules for when stuff are in coordination are not always the same as the rules for stuff that are not in coordination.

For a clear cut example where a speaker of today's standard English would not treat a coordination similar to a non-coordination, there's the example in the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL), on page 1326, [11] in subsection "Special syntactic treatment of coordinates":

• ii.a. I need pen and paper.

• ii.b. * I need pen. <-- ungrammatical

where [ii ] shows "that the normal rules concerning the requirement of a determiner with count singulars are sometimes relaxed in coordinations" (CGEL page 1326). There are more examples in footnote 45 on page 1326.

But unfortunately since it is easier and simpler to teach over-generalized rules in school and textbooks, that is exactly what often happens: it is common that many over-generalized and faulty "rules" are blindly taught in school and in textbooks.

When a first person pronoun is the last coordinate in a coordination, as is done in your two examples, where a non-coordinated personal pronoun would usually be in accusative case, then, both nominative and accusative case pronouns will often be found to be used by many native English speakers in today's standard English.

Since many teachers and editors blindly use the over-generalized "rule" that a personal pronoun in a coordination must always use the case that a non-coordinated personal pronoun would use, then it's often safer to follow that rule when in those environments: that is, use "Keep Tom and me updated", which is version #2 that uses accusative "me", since the pronoun would be in accusative case in the corresponding non-coordinated pronoun in "Keep me updated".

But if you hear a native English speaker who speaks fluent English using a construction similar to "Keep Tom and I updated", then don't be so quick to correct their English. That English speaker might be one of many native English speakers who happen to speak that variety (or dialect) of standard English.

Just between you and I, the answer depends on whether or not you're in school, or writing for a boss, or writing for yourself:

• If you're in school, then your teachers most likely want "Keep Tom and me updated", which is version #2 that uses accusative "me".

• If you have an employer, then they probably have their own style guide and editors, and a preferred style. Most likely they too will usually prefer "Keep Tom and me updated", which is version #2 that uses accusative "me".

• If you are writing for yourself, then you'll use the version that you think appropriate for the prose you're writing.

THE GRAMMAR OF IT ALL:

Your examples involve a coordination where the last coordinate is a personal pronoun, and that coordination is realizing a function that would usually be realized by a non-coordinated personal pronoun in accusative case.

TOPIC: "between you and I"

First, let's look at a more commonly documented issue: "between you and me" vs "between you and I". This issue comes up so often that it is usually discussed in a usage dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (MWDEU) published 1989/1994, or the more recent Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage (MWCDEU) published 2002.

(ASIDE: Just between you and I, a decent usage dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage (MWCDEU), will often be helpful in questions related to standard usage.)

In my copy of Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage (MWCDEU), in their entry "between you and I", the concluding paragraph on page 135 is:

• Conclusion: between you and I seems now to be primarily a spoken form which no amount of correction by commentators aiming to improve written English will extinguish. Neither it nor the prescribed between you and me appears very often in print. Our little current evidence almost invariably uses me. For more instances of the anomalous use of pronouns, see MYSELF; PRONOUNS; WHO, WHOM 1.

As to grammar: Usage similar to "between you and me" is part of today's standard English, while the evaluation on usage similar to "between you and I" is perhaps not so clear-cut. According to the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL), they think that usage similar to "between you and I" should be considered a variety of today's standard English (CGEL page 463, an excerpt is provided further down in this post).

So, although schools will typically teach that "between you and I" is incorrect, there are many speakers that do use that form in their variety of today's standard English.

TOPIC: a coordinate nominative pronoun corresponding to a non-coordinate accusative

Now let's look at the more general case which your examples are part of: using a coordinate nominative pronoun in places that would correspond to a non-coordinate accusative.

For some related info from a highly regarded grammar source, there's the 2005 textbook by Huddleston and Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (ASITEG), page 107:

Case in coordinations

For many speakers the above rules extend to constructions where the pronoun is coordinated, but there are also many who use special rules for coordinative constructions. Note the status markers on the following examples:

[57]

• [i ] a. Kim and I went over there. - - - - b. ! Kim and me went over there.

• [ii ] a. They invited Sandy and me. - - - b. % They invited Sandy and I.

The whole coordination is subject in [i ] and object in [ii ], so in the absence of coordination we would have nominative I in [i ] (I went over there) and accusative me in [ii ] (They invited me). Construction in [i.b ] is not accepted as Standard English, though it is very common in non-standard speech. Construction [ii.b ], however, is used by many highly educated people with social prestige in the community; it should be regarded as a variant Standard English form.

Prescriptive grammar note:

• The pattern in [57.ii.b ] is heard constantly in the conversation of people whose status as speakers of Standard English is clear, but it is nevertheless condemned as incorrect or illiterate by many usage manuals. For this reason it is not so common in print: editors will often 'correct' it. Nonetheless, examples are certainly found. Those who condemn it simply assume that the case of a pronoun in a coordination must be the same as when it stands alone. Actual usage is in conflict with this assumption. (Note that we have already come across another instance of coordinated NPs differing in form from non-coordinated ones: recall the discussion of husband and wife in [15.ii.a ].)

For some more related info, there is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL), page 463:

Coordinate nominatives corresponding to non-coordinate accusatives

[23] i.

• a. % The present was supposed to represent [Helen and I], that was the problem.

• b. % Any postgrad who has any concerns about working conditions or security in shared offices is welcome to approach either [Ann Brown or I] with them.

• c. % It would be an opportunity for [you and I] to spend some time together.

• d. % He had intended to leave at dawn, without [you or I] knowing anything about it.

[23] ii.

• a. % They've awarded [he and his brother] certificates of merit.

• b. % There's a tendency for [he and I] to clash.

Single pronouns replacing the coordinations would have to be in accusative case: us in [i ] and [ii.b ], them in [ii.a ]. One particularly common use of this construction is in the expression between you and I, and indeed usage manuals often discuss it under that heading. It must be emphasized, however, that these nominatives are found quite generally in coordinations functioning in positions where single accusative pronouns are used. The pattern shown in [i ], with the nominative as final coordinate, is much more common than the one in [ii ], where the nominative occurs as first (or both first and final) coordinate.

There can be little doubt that the quite common use of this construction is related to the stigmatism attaching to accusatives in subject coordinations like those in [22]: people are taught that Me and Kim will do it and Kim and me will do it are incorrect, and many generalize their avoidance of such coordinate accusatives to other functional positions. [see note #A by F.E.] The schoolteacher's strictures focus primarily on the 1st person singular pronoun (since this is where children most commonly depart from the standard variety), and in construction [23], with final-only nominative, I is overwhelmingly the most frequent form that is found. Compare [23] with the much less widely used:

[24]

• i. % They've invited [the Smiths and we] to lunch.

• ii. % Liz will be back next week, so I've asked Ed to return the key to [you or she].

Because these coordinate nominatives are perceived to be associated with avoidance of stigmatized accusatives in subject coordinations, they are often described as hypercorrections. This is to imply that they are 'incorrect', not established forms in the standard language. Construction [23.i ] with I as final coordinate is, however, so common in speech and used by so broad a range of speakers that it has to be recognized as a variety of Standard English, and we will reserve the term hypercorrection for examples like [23.ii ] and [24].

Note that the distinction between 1st person singular and the other personal pronouns is also evident in such constructions as:

[25]

• i. They like the same kind of music as [you and we].

• ii. They like the same kind of music as [you and I].

Example [i ] belongs to the same style level as They like the same kind of music as we -- i.e. it is very formal. But [ii ] is not felt to be stylistically restricted in the same way; many speakers who do not themselves use examples like [23.i ] would nevertheless feel much more comfortable with [25.ii ] than with [25.i ].

[note #A: F.E. considers that that previous sentence as worded by the authors could be misleading and he personally prefers how they explained this issue in their later 2005 textbook ASITEG.]

Legend:

• * == ungrammatical: * This books is mine.

• # == semantically or pragmatically anomalous: # We frightened the cheese.

• % == grammatical in some dialect(s) only: % He hadn't many friends.

• ? == of questionable grammaticality: ? Sue he gave the key.

• ! == non-standard: ! I can't hardly hear.

References:

• H&P CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

• ASITEG is the 2005 textbook by Huddleston and Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar.

• MWCDEU is the usage dictionary Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage, published 2002.

Referred to info:

• There is related info in the usage dictionary Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage (MWCDEU), in their entry "between you and I".

• The case of the personal pronoun "I/me" when used in coordination is discussed in H&P's 2005 textbook, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar, page 107.

• There is related info in the 2002 H&P CGEL, section "Coordinate nominatives corresponding to non-coordinate accusatives", on page 463, and also, page 1326, [11] for "Special syntactic treatment of coordinates".

• Here's a related answer post: Between you and (“me” or “I”)?

Just between you and I, I think you may have narrowed your readership a little, because your English is probably proficiency ++++ !! +1 from me though :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-06-23T23:55:25.743

Where's you gettin your info on what language teachers want though? Where've you been doin that research? – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-06-24T00:05:53.243

My thoughts on what the FL teachers are likely to want is that they'd go for the path of greatest safety (forstudents), so they'd probably favour the I, because it'd be safer in more contexts. They'd definitely be safer with semi-formal writing and so forth. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-06-24T00:22:23.153

1@Araucaria I've been getting that info by reading the answer posts--some of them written by (supposedly) EFL teachers/students-intending-to-become-teachers, and by seeing them getting high up vote counts. :D I suspect that many of them aren't even aware that that "rule" is bogus: the "rule" that stuff in coordination has the same constraints as non-coordinate stuff. The problem with teachers/pedants not being aware that accusatives are often used in these contexts is that they (teachers) will "correct" this kind of usage by native English speakers, marking them as ungrammatical. – F.E. – 2015-06-24T00:39:22.307

@Araucaria (cont.) Just look at many of the answer posts in this thread, as an example of how wide-spread that bogus "rule" is. Also, look at many of the comments, too. :) – F.E. – 2015-06-24T00:43:21.213

1In your sentence (fragment) "... the grammar rules for when stuff are in coordination are not always the same...," shouldn't it be "...the grammar rules for when stuff is in coordination are not always the same...?" I was reluctant to correct it myself due to my inferior knowledge of why some people would intentionally use incorrect English-language constructs. ;-) – MrWonderful – 2015-07-06T16:57:55.687

I am not a native English Speaker with a slightly more than usual interest in grammar, I was using the pronouns properly and a native speaker corrected me. I didn't argue what he said, I was just confused, and later read online and noticed many people used it wrong, or was I wrong? That is why I asked here. I never correct native speakers because that would be obnoxious. I do sometimes, correct my non native English speaking friends, when I am sure of my correction and I know they want my feedback. Otherwise I don't say anything. – Dzyann – 2020-05-19T14:34:05.890

Also, that people use something in the wrong way doesn't make it right. It just makes it harder for newcommers to speak "properly" the language due to all this "exceptions". And in my opinion you lose valuable information and understanding. – Dzyann – 2020-05-19T14:34:43.353

1

When in doubt substitute in 'us' and 'we' and see which makes sense / sounds right.

Keep us (Tom and me) updated - sounds fine.

Keep we (Tom and I) updated - huh?! I don't think so...

2It's probably easier if you just have them remove the other subject - Keep me updated/keep I updated. – jimsug – 2014-05-16T02:03:34.253

Yes, I did all that but people kept insisting that because the name was being used "Tom" it was correct to put I instead of me. It is a nice tip though. – Dzyann – 2014-05-16T13:22:18.920

The and phrase is plural - so we versus us is a better test. Getting this wrong (in my opinion and Lynn Truss's) is one of Poly Toynbee's stylistic quirks. – Thumbnail – 2014-05-17T08:30:39.397

0

General rule: If Tom wasn't there, would you say "I", or "me"? Adding Tom shouldn't change that.

I mowed Fred's lawn. Tom and I mowed Fred's lawn.

Fred paid me. Fred paid Tom and me.