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What is the proper way of saying: "Jim, John, and I am going to the beach."

Whenever I say "Jim, John, and I are going somewhere", I stumble over "I are going".

Should it be "am" or "are", or should the "I" come first, or should it be "me".

When reading everyday messages, I usually see people write "Me, Jim, and John are going somewhere", avoiding the stumble, but that doesn't seem correct at all.

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Thanks to the responses, they cleared it up nicely. I noticed the subject title changed from it's original "Blank, Blank, and I am/are…". I am adding it back in as a comment, since the new header makes it impossible to find using a Google Search. –  Erin Mar 10 at 22:28
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As far as using me vs I, one way I was taught was to remove the subjects other than yourself (and, if necessary, switch verbs from plural to singular) and see which one fits. e.g. "Jim, John, and I are going to the beach" -> "I am going to the beach" vs "Me am going to the beach". 'I' is clearly the correct choice. –  Doc Mar 11 at 4:13
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"I'm going to the beach with Jim and John" dodges the issue, of course. –  keshlam Mar 11 at 5:15
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Just to complicate matters a bit (because, hey, why not?): there is pretty good evidence that the actual, native rule in English for compound subjects that include yourself is to use "and me" rather than "and I". "Subject pronouns must be used in subject positions", along with a few other rules that English never really had, is an 18th-century imposition derived from Latin and Classical Greek. Robert Lowth and Lindley Murray (and their heirs, successors and assigns) meant well (I suppose), but they committed mischief upon our mother tongue, leaving things more awkward than necessary. –  bye Mar 11 at 16:07

4 Answers 4

Jim, John, and I is a plural subject, so it requires the plural verb are. I often becomes me as the subject in informal Standard English, but you should use I in writing. If it is coordinated with other nouns or pronouns it will need a plural verb, whatever form it takes.

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The correct form is:

Jim, John and I are going to the beach.

Are is the plural form of the verb to be. Am is the first person form of the verb to be. More than one person is going to the beach so are should be used.

I am going to the beach.

I is correct in this case. Jim, John and you (I) are the subjects of the verb to go. Therefore I is correct. When the pronoun is the object of the verb me should be used.

e.g. Jim told me to go to the beach.

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Are is used for plural subjects, whereas am is used for singular subjects. Jim, John, and I is a plural subject (3 people), so the correct form is "Jim, John, and I are going somewhere."

There's some nuance to this rule. You might say "The king and I are wonderful friends," when you're talking about your lofty connections, but you'd say "The King and I is a wonderful musical", since here The King and I is the title of a play. With some subjects you can use either, depending on whether you want to evoke plurality or unity. For example, you can say "The Beatles is my favorite band" when referring to The Beatles as a group, or "The Beatles are all excellent musicians", if you prefer to evoke a group of individuals. You can see that in this case the plural is more popular, but the singular form still enjoys regular use.

Rarely, writers will even go so far as to use the plural verb for singular nouns, when they want to emphasize the individuals rather than the group. "The couple are separating" is a common example. Likewise, the band are tearing through their set is better at evoking individual musicians than the singular form.

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The nuance might explain part of the problem. When I lived in the midwest, I had no trouble saying the correct form. I notice that my "midwest accent" pauses after saying the group "Jim, John, and I" and then continues "are going to the beach." But when I moved to the west coast, I found my accent changing to pause between individuals, so it comes out "Jim," "John," "and I are going" "to the beach." It's subtle, but it seems the speech is more plural-considerate in Chicago and more individual-centric in Silicon valley. It was here I first heard people saying "I am" in groups. –  Erin Mar 10 at 22:24
    
I am the walrus. –  Agi Hammerthief Mar 11 at 20:08

[Jim, John and I] = We
[We] are going to the beach.

[Jim, John and I] = The three of us
[The three of us] are going to the beach.

It can't be "[x] am going to the beach" if [x] is more than the one person speaking.

"Me, Jim and John..." is colloquial, but incorrect. It is also often heard as "Jim, John and me...". This 'me' usage is sufficiently widely used that it may not be long before it is accepted as correct.

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Me knows what you mean, but me hopes not :-( –  Mark Hurd Mar 11 at 14:33
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I is agreein wiv you, innit. –  toandfro Mar 11 at 19:42

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