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So I know that it's correct to say:

Jane and I are going shopping

I shouldn't use me here because (as stated on Oxford Dictionaries Online) I is what I would use in the singular form of the sentence:

I am going shopping

But does this same rule apply if I want to (impolitely) put myself first in the sentence? Should I be saying:

I and Jane are going shopping

Because this just sounds incredibly wrong. It sounds much more accurate to use me here.

6

There are very strong indications that " x and me" or "me and x" are the actual grammatically-correct form in English (in concordance with French and with historical usage) and the horrible resonance of "I and x" is among them.

The problem with the "me" formulation is that it will never get by an editor or reader who has taken primary school English, except in a quotative construction relating non-standard speech. The influence of classically-educated grammarians runs deep, and the idea that subject pronouns must appear in subject positions has been so thoroughly drilled into people that "x and I" sounds right to most people, even though it is arguably wrong according to the natural grammar of the language. (If one substitutes "a group consisting of [members list]", "me" is the proper constituent.)

The upshot is that if you want to be taken seriously in a non-colloquial context, you pretty much have to use "x and I". "Me and x" or "x and me" will sound too colloquial or sloppy, and "I and x" simply sounds wrong to most folk.

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    Do you have a ref for these strong indications? I don't think I've ever seen that. – Matt Gutting Jun 10 '14 at 20:45
  • There are very strong indications that we shouldn't be using modern English at all. Beakerfolkspeak has a far better provenance. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 10 '14 at 21:01
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    Try Huddleston and Pullum or Pinker. This isn't exactly a new or an odd concept. – bye Jun 10 '14 at 21:02
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    @Matt: ref one, ref two. This answer is precisely right. The unmarked form in English is the accusative. It is a well-known and well-researched linguistic fact. – RegDwigнt Jun 10 '14 at 21:31
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    @JonHanna - Yes. The old schoolteacher's suggestion to remove everybody else before deciding which pronoun to use actually changes the underlying grammatical construction, so it doesn't work. The rules of Latin do not apply to English. – bye Jun 11 '14 at 2:47
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There is nothing ungrammatical about saying I and Jane are going shopping. Similarly, there is nothing ungrammatical about saying He and you are going shopping.

However, it is not idiomatic to use those pronoun order constructions. It is convention in English to put the person being addressed first in pronoun subject order:

You and he are going shopping.

It is also convention to put the first person singular last:

She and I are going shopping.

You and I are going shopping.

You would rarely hear someone address a crowd like this:

Gentlemen and ladies, please be seated.

Again, it is style and convention to say ladies and gentlemen. If you want to go against style and convention, that is your prerogative. Understand that you may sound like a non-native speaker, uneducated, or simply eccentric.

To address you last point. Me and Jane are going shopping may sound better to your ear than I and Jane are going shopping, but that's not because it's grammatical. It's probably because it's colloquial (though strictly incorrect) to use the object pronoun me first in that construction. Possibly because then me stays far enough away from the verb to not sound quite so incorrect.

Me and Jane like tea. <-- ungrammatical

  • Oddly, me in a compound subject wasn't "incorrect" or "ungrammatical" until Robert Lowth's A Short Introduction to English Grammar. The use of I in such cases has merely been made conventional (just as its position of conspicuous humility has been). If they stopped teaching that usage in schools, it would be gone in a generation. It's not real grammar. – bye Jun 11 '14 at 7:39
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    @bye You make a good point, and since I'm not generally a prescriptivist, I don't find the me and X compound subject as grating as, for example, I seen her at the store. – ghoppe Jun 11 '14 at 14:09
  • @bye I'd actually quite like to accept both your answers. ghoppe's is the correct answer from the "official grammer" (Lowth's grammar) standpoint, and so very helpful. But I am also not a prescriptivist and I believe that the language is formed and changed by those who speak it, so bye's answer is very interesting. Would one of you like to incorporate the others' answer into yours as well? – Robin Winslow Jun 22 '14 at 13:32

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