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“My friends and I” vs. “My friends and me” vs. “Me and my friends”

I cringe when someone does not follow the rule of naming the first person last:

Who went to the party?
- Me, Bobby, Sally, and Joe.

This is surprisingly common in informal spoken American English. I admit have a strong cultural bias against this practice. My native language is Spanish and listeners in informal situations often reply with el burro por delante (the donkey in front) to correct the speaker.

Another post (Which of these sentences use the correct grammar?) partially covers this topic but the answers do not conclude whether it is proper grammar or just proper manners.

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marked as duplicate by MετάEd, Robusto, tchrist, Mark Beadles, JSBձոգչ Dec 12 '12 at 16:01

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's a matter of style, or manners, if you will. Grammatically, all of the following are equally fine:

  • Jack and I went to the store.
  • I and Jack went to the store.
  • I and that stupid moron went to the store.
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I object--"that stupid moron" is too vague; I know far too many of those for that sentence to be meaningful ;-p –  munin Oct 15 '10 at 22:44
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It's my understanding that, rather than being a necessity of grammar, it is a necessity of politeness that relegates the speaker to the end of a list of that sort in the English language.

I would note that, properly, one must change the case of the first-person pronoun to account for proper parsing--hence:

Bobby, Sally, Joe, and I went to the party.

In this case, "Bobby," "Sally," "Joe," and "I" are all equivalent subjects for the "went to the party" predicate--any single one of them can be used as a valid subject for the sentence. The same does not apply to "me" because it's the wrong case--it's not proper to say "Me went to the party"*

That's not to say that native speakers use this standard all the time, especially people who are not used to watching their language for clarity.

Now, this form of politeness does lead to an amusing grammatical difficulty if the list of persons is in the predicate of the sentence, viz:

The party was fun for Bobby, Sally, Joe and I.

I, myself, was taught that this form was the polite one to use, despite the fact that "The party was fun for I" is not a valid construction.

*Unless you're the Cookie Monster, but he's never been known for proper grammar.

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What is the grammatical difficulty? You just say "The party was fun for Bobby, Sally, Joe and me". –  ShreevatsaR Oct 16 '10 at 2:16
    
That's the correct grammar, yes. It conflicts with the "polite" tradition--hence the polite tradition causes grammatical difficulties. Apologies for not being clear. –  munin Oct 16 '10 at 17:46
    
I think that that may be hypercorrection rather than any type of polite tradition. Unless you're Bert. Oh, those clever Sesame Street writers. –  Ophiuroid Oct 17 '10 at 0:05
    
I still don't understand how the grammar conflicts with the polite tradition of naming oneself last: you'd say "The party was fun for me", so you use "me" and insert all the other names before it. As far as I can see, the question of whether to use "me" or "I" is unrelated to, and does not acquire difficulty from, the matter of politeness. –  ShreevatsaR Oct 17 '10 at 15:20
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I don't think the "and me" version interferes with any rules about politeness. –  khedron Oct 18 '10 at 21:37
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