Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton
pne

To "me" or not to "me", that is the question

I'm in a bit of a quandary right now as to what kind of grammar to use around Amy when it comes to subject vs. object forms of pronouns.

The thing is, I was taught to use the subject form ("I, he, she") in certain constructions, but it seems to me that the object form ("me, him, her") is more natural to a large number of native English speakers.

The subject form is more correct according to conservative, prescriptive grammar; it also matches with what German (which inflects more strongly than English) does. But I wonder whether I should use this form or whether it's dated and unnatural.

The classic example is comparison statements. Does one say "He is bigger than me but she is exactly as big as me" or "He is bigger than I but she is exactly as big as I"? (There is, of course, also "He is bigger than I am but she is exactly as big as I am", where I think everyone uses the subject form of the pronouns, but that seems rather stilted to me, too, as the default form.)

Another example: Amy showed me a picture she had drawn in kindergarten and explained to me who the people on it were: "This is Anne and that am I and that is Nea". Fine in German ("das bin ich") but not only is the verb wrong for English (I think), the pronoun form is also questionable. I think it should be "...and that's ___" (with "is" rather than "are") but I'm not sure whether to say "and that's me" or "and that is I".

And a final, also classic example: responses such as "Who wants some cake? — Me!" or "Who spilt the orange juice? — Not me!", where conservative grammar would have "I" in each case (and German would have "ich").


What do you think? "I" or "me" in that sort of sentence?


And because I like polls: what is the most natural/spontaneous form you would use in the following constructions?

Poll #1365332 subject and object forms

Tom is bigger than ___

I
1(3.4%)
me
23(79.3%)
myself
0(0.0%)
I am
5(17.2%)
something else, which I'll explain in comments
0(0.0%)

Paul isn't as smart as ____

I
0(0.0%)
me
20(71.4%)
myself
0(0.0%)
I am
8(28.6%)
something else, which I'll explain in comments
0(0.0%)

Look at this picture! This is Joe and this _______ and this is Paul.

is me
27(93.1%)
is I
1(3.4%)
am I
0(0.0%)
something else, which I'll explain in comments
1(3.4%)

Who's that on the picture? — ___________

That's me.
28(96.6%)
That is me.
0(0.0%)
That is I.
1(3.4%)
That am I.
0(0.0%)
something else, which I'll explain in comments
0(0.0%)

Who wants some cake?

Me!
13(46.4%)
I!
0(0.0%)
I do!
13(46.4%)
something else, which I'll explain in comments
2(7.1%)

Who broke the window?

Not me!
15(51.7%)
Not I!
1(3.4%)
Me not!
0(0.0%)
I not!
0(0.0%)
I didn't!
1(3.4%)
It wasn't me!
10(34.5%)
It wasn't I!
0(0.0%)
'Tweren't me!
1(3.4%)
'Tweren't I!
0(0.0%)
something else, which I'll explain in comments
1(3.4%)

And the $64000 question: what form should I use when talking English to Amy?

Subject form -- it's what you were taught was correct, and it's still more correct, and she'll need it for formal writing
1(4.3%)
Subject form -- it's the only proper choice; everything else is slovenly
0(0.0%)
Object form -- it's what people use, subject form sounds unnatural in speech, and she can still acquire it later for formal writing
10(43.5%)
Object form -- it's what people use, even in formal writing these days; subject form is simply old and stuffy
8(34.8%)
Whatever comes naturally to you, even if that means a mix depending on how you feel in a given conversation
3(13.0%)
Pick one that sounds natural and stick with it
1(4.3%)
This should be a choice you make yourself.
0(0.0%)

Ticky box?

I don't have an opinion on this poll but I like ticky boxes.
6(100.0%)
Tags: amy, polls
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