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Sounding, and Writing, Like You’re Smart

Actually, it’s Sounding as if you’re smart. Like is a preposition; as is a conjunction, but we’ll save that one for another time and place.

O. K. Here are two biggies; what do you think?

  • Between you and (I, me)…
  • It is (I, me)…

In many languages, nouns take on different forms to accommodate different uses. Thankfully in English we’re spared those distinctions except as they apply to the personal pronouns: I/me, we/us, he/him, she/her, they/them. In each pairing, the example on the left is used in subject position – generally before the verb and, typically, the doer of the verb’s action. The right side example falls in object positions: direct object, indirect object, object of preposition.

If you didn’t know the answers earlier, do you know them now?

In our first example, the answer is ME. You know that me is not a subject position pronoun because you know not to say, “Me am very hungry.” Hey, you’re not Tarzan. Between is a preposition and prepositions are followed by objects. Another example is, “People like you and ME are better writers because we attended fixwrite’s seminar on effective writing.” All right, all right, then, how about this one, “Everybody in the group was invited to the party except you and (I, me). Last word: between, like, and except are prepositions; prepositions (about, above, across, against, et al) are followed by object form personal pronouns.

In our second example, the answer is I. Perhaps this is the simplest explanation: See how it and I are the same person? And do you understand that It is in the subject position ion the sentence? So, wouldn’t it make sense that a pronoun referring to a subject would take a subject form? There are a couple of issues at play here, Agreement and Case. The former is covered in Section II of The Principles of Effective Writing; the latter is covered in Section VI.

Try these:

  • It was (he, him) who took the lead.
  • (We, us) boys are going swimming this afternoon.
  • No one told Jenna or (I, me) about the party.
  • Did Margaret or (she, her) leave a message?
  • When are mama and (they, them) coming home?

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