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Should I put myself last?
“Me and my wife” or “my wife and me”

Having been raised with German as my first language, my parents took very much care that I would not mention myself fist: If I told them that I did something with my friends - "me, Bob and Andrew" - I was always corrected to say "Bob, Andrew and me" instead.

Is there a similar rule or is it perceived to be similarily impolite to mention oneself first in the English language?

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See me-and-my-wife-or-my-wife-and-me –  Theta30 Jan 2 '12 at 16:03
    
@Lynn Yes indeed, thank you. Should I delete or will my question be closed? –  Felix Hoffmann Jan 2 '12 at 16:24
    
It'll be closed and redirected to the other one, no worries. –  Lynn Jan 2 '12 at 16:56
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marked as duplicate by Lynn, Barrie England, Peter Shor , Matt Эллен, jwpat7 Jan 2 '12 at 17:27

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1 Answer

It is not a grammatical rule, but merely a matter of politeness.

Unfortunately, it gets confused in Americans' minds with issues of the grammatical usage of the pronouns I and me (and also he and him, she and her, we and us, they and them -- the only examples of objective case words left in English, now that whom is dead). Americans are not taught their use in school.

The American educational system unfortunately does not teach anything about language, English or any other. So Americans make up their own grammar rules. They're pretty silly, and they hardly ever agree on them; still, they're sure they're right, and you just have to be polite. Sorry.

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RE death of "whom": Just because some people don't know how to use a word properly doesn't mean the word is dead. The example given in the linked article is not persuasive. All it proves is that Cornell has abandoned teaching grammar just as they abandoned teaching history and economics in favor of teaching politically-correct left-wing social activism. :-) (Before you blast me for introducing politics onto a language web site, follow the link above to see the relevance of this comment.) –  Jay Jan 2 '12 at 17:22
    
Native speakers use whom more often according to novel rules than to the traditional ones, so it's not dead, exactly, but it certainly is a zombie. That's what our educational system delivers -- zombie grammar, instead of real grammar. Non-native speakers should be cautioned against paying attention to this drivel; they actually have to learn about the language. –  John Lawler Jan 2 '12 at 18:16
    
@Lawler: It's certainly true that many Americans have trouble with nominatives and objectives. It's not just "whom" though that's certainly a good example. You often hear people say things like, "Sally spoke to Bob and I". I recall an English class I was in once where the teacher said, "'I' is not always correct in compound nouns." –  Jay Jan 3 '12 at 5:44
    
I suspect it's not just a matter of politeness, but also prosody: "I and" is phonetically awkward; on the flip side, so is "and me". If order doesn't matter, moving "I" to the end or putting "me" earlier will improve pronunciation. If order does matter, grammar often loses out to pronunciation. Which do you prefer: "Bob, me, and James--we received the first three numbered copies", "Bob, I, and James received...", "Bob, me, and James received...", "The first three numbered copies were received by Bob, me, and James", or something else? The third is grammatically wrong, but IMHO sounds best. –  supercat Jan 17 at 22:37
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