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I've heard that "me neither" is incorrect. Instead one should say "neither do I." People definitely say "me neither" conversationally, but is it technically incorrect?

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Funny, though I'm American, I always say [naɪðɚ] except in this phrase, wherein I say [niːðɚ]. –  Jon Purdy Oct 12 '10 at 17:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Me neither is idiomatic English. It is a set phrase, as @cindi said. The OED has it as colloquial, originally USA, meaning nor I. Among the many examples from COHA:

  • "Hast thou a wife?" "No." "Me neither." (Hemingway)
  • "I don't understand, Queen," said the Prosecutor finally. "Me neither," groaned Dakin. (Ellery Queen)
  • "I don't want to ever get married," Rita said. "Me neither," Toad Tarkington agreed fervently." (Stephen Coonts)

The earliest citations, as far as I can tell, are often in the dialogue of characters who do not speak completely standard English, especially before ca. 1930. This pattern no longer seems to hold.

To this American English speaker, Me neither seems perfectly natural. Not formal, but not incorrect either.

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As another American English speaker, if I heard someone use "neither do I" instead of "me neither", I would usually think that they were weird and uptight, I guess because they were being too formal and old-fashioned. –  Cupcake Jul 5 '11 at 9:28

It is incorrect in almost every example, for three reasons.

Firstly, Me is the object personal pronoun and is therefore only to be used when the speaker is the object of the verb.

Secondly, Neither is part of the Neither/nor construction (like either/or) and should not be used to indicate the second of two objects in such a construction.

Finally, it is back to front. Neither/nor should precede the subject/object it is modifying.

The grammatically correct phrase is usually "Nor I," which efficiently expresses inclusion with the previous speaker in the following case:

"I have no idea."

"[Neither you] nor I [has any idea]."

If you replace the phrase in the above sentence with "Me neither," the error becomes obvious. The exception to the "Me/I" switch occurs when the preceding speaker is talking of himself/herself as the object of a verb rather than the subject. For example:

"He didn't give me anything."

"Nor [did he give] me [anything]."

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so does this mean that "neither do I" is also incorrect? –  Claudiu Oct 11 '10 at 15:49
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"Nor I" is so dated it sounds cool to say it. –  ShreevatsaR Oct 11 '10 at 19:07
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I'll grant you that "me neither" has entered common speech as an idiom, but as a strictly grammatical construction it is incorrect - as is "Neither do I" (should be "Nor do I.") It's a colloquialism that's always confused me since, unlike most time- or effort-saving contractions, it's more effort to say than "nor I." –  PyroTyger Oct 12 '10 at 6:50
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"Me neither" and "neither do I" are "incorrect" in the terms of some doomed attempt to reduce language to symbolic logic; they are "correct" in that they are utterances that a very large majority of contemporary native English speakers, on both sides of any ocean you care to name, would find absolutely unremarkable. "Nor I" is markedly dated and formal in register. "Nor do I" is pretty neutral in British English at least, though. –  Albert Herring Oct 12 '10 at 9:02
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PyroTyger is incorrect in almost every case. The 'almost' is because some people do indeed claim that 'me' can only be used as the objective case: this has always been a fatuous argument, but was formerly widely held. An opposing view is that 'me' is the unmarked case, used except where it is the subject of a following verb in the same constituent (see Emonds, J., "A grammatically deviant prestige construction", 1985). "Neither" is indeed part of "neither/nor", but that doesn't preclude it from occurring alone. Similarly, while 'neither' normally does precede, there's no rule against it. –  Colin Fine Oct 12 '10 at 17:11

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