When should you use "I" vs. "me" in English sentences?

The words "I" and "me" both refer to yourself. You decide which one to pick based on how they're being used in the sentence. Usually it's easy to decide which one to use:

I like it!

She hit me.

Give it to me.

You use "I" as the subject of a sentence, and "me" as the object. In most sentences, that means that "I" comes before the verb and "me" comes after it. 

Sometimes it's a little harder to know which one to use. Here are some of those situations:

Comparisons

She's better than ___.

In everyday spoken English, the most common answer is "me":

She's better than me.

In formal English, there's actually a lot of debate. Some people say that it's supposed to be "I", because it's like you're combining two sentences:

She's better than I (am).

Other people say that the common form "me" is correct. So it's really your decision which to use in formal English. I'd say "better than me" is the laid-back person's choice, and "better than I" is better for more conservative people.

Talking about multiple people (in theory)

Luis and ___ aren't coming.

Lori sent Jane and ___ a card last Christmas.

There's a lot of confusion even for native English speakers about whether to use "I" or "me" in sentences that are about you plus another person. First let's learn the formal grammatically correct version, and then we'll learn about what people actually say.

The easy way to figure out whether to use "I" or "me" in grammatically correct English is to take away all of the other people:

I am not coming. » Luis and I are not coming.

Lori sent me a card. » Lori sent Jane and me a card.

Here are some more examples of each:

Shoshanna, the kids, and I took a train up to Boston for the weekend.

You and I are so similar.

They've always liked Kazu and me.

A: Who'd they send it to?

B: James and me.

One other note: the rule for correct English is that you should come last in the list. So it's "Jane and me", not "me and Jane".

Talking about multiple people (in practice)

In reality, a lot of English speakers don't know or care about the rules above. Instead, a lot of people use mostly "me" or "I"

A lot of people only use "me":

Me and Luis aren't coming.

Lori sent me and Jane a card last Christmas.

As you see in the examples, it's also common to put "me" first in the list.

On the other hand, there are some people who use only "I" like this:

Luis and I aren't coming.

Lori sent Jane and I a card last Christmas.

People do this to seem more intelligent and correct. It's a kind of over-correction: they know that "Me and Luis" as the subject is incorrect, so they assume that "me and Jane" as the object is also incorrect.

So here's my advice. Memorize these three sentences:

  1. Me and Luis aren't coming.
  2. Luis and I aren't coming.
  3. Lori sent Jane and me a card.

The first one is for casual spoken English. The second one is for formal English. The last one is good in all situations.

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