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I had a gentleman say "Excuse I" to me the other day as he passed me in the hallway. He was a professor at the university I attend, and so it got me thinking:

Is "Excuse I" acceptable grammar even though "Excuse me" is more commonly used?

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Are you sure it was "Excuse I"? When I've heard this joking phrase, it has usually been "Scuse I". – Colin Fine Jun 12 '11 at 21:05
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Just a playful abuse of the language.

"I" is a subject pronoun, so this would be correct if he were doing the excusing, and meant the same as "I excuse". But in an imperative like this, "excuse me" is correct.

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It is often used although usually tongue in cheek (ie a joke). I believe it originally comes from people mocking those that replace "me" with "I" thinking that this is correct grammar. In actual fact "me" is the correct pronoun. People often use this without realising the irony in the expression "excuse I".

I believe this "deliberate" error comes from a general incorrect trend to replace "me" with "I" such as "She came to the restaurant with my mum and I". The "I" should actually be "me" since the preposition makes I me but many now think because there are two people they should say "person X and I".

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Are you saying that many who use the expression now are not aware that they are saying something that originated as being intentionally ungrammatical? That is not my impression—I’ve never heard anyone use it in a way that suggested they were not aware of its ungrammaticality. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 22 '15 at 11:55

It's not correct grammar, but it's a reasonably common colloquial expression.

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Common? I've never heard it before. – Malvolio Jun 12 '11 at 0:07
I agree with Malvolio although I'm not a native speaker but I wonder... How can it be colloquial if he heard it from a professor? Usually between professors and students there is some distance, but well, I can't be 100% sure about how it is in U.S.... – Alenanno Jun 12 '11 at 0:20
@Alenanno: Those pesky professors, always cutting up. Me, I can't recall ever hearing it either. – Robusto Jun 12 '11 at 1:33
I've heard it on several occasions. But I did qualify "common" with "reasonably". – Christi Jun 12 '11 at 13:36
If you’ve never heard excuse I before, you obviously haven’t watched enough Graham Norton (which is inexcusable, so pronoun case doesn’t really matter). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 22 '15 at 11:53

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