I just watched a movie and saw a sentence in it. I can understand it but it is different from any sentence building rule my teacher has ever taught me:

Me staring in your dead eye with my hand around your throat ...

English sentence structure follows SVO, but this sentence start with an object pronoun 'me'. Can anyone explain it for me?

  • 4
    These words typically wouldn't stand alone, by themselves, as a proper sentence. What was the context? I can definitely picture a tough guy or bad guy chapter saying to an enemy: "What's my greatest fantasy, you ask? Oh, well, it's simple: me, staring into your dead eyes, with my hands around your throat". Or something along those lines; but note the quoted phrase fits into a larger context as a dependent clause (and note the comma after me; that's important). – Dan Bron Dec 1 '14 at 9:05
  • @DanBron: The comma is not important. What's important is this: me looking at your answer and telling you so directly. – Robusto Dec 1 '14 at 13:00
  • It's definitely not from a Tarzan movie, because Tarzan would say "Me stare in your dead eye," not "Me staring in..." – Sven Yargs Dec 4 '14 at 7:42
  • @Robusto; Your example is unlike DanBron's example. Yours could be phrased as "...my looking at your answer..." – Brian Hitchcock Dec 5 '14 at 13:52
  • There's far too little context to hazard a guess. It could be part of a semi-legitimate sentence in inverted order, or it could be a mistranslation or mistranscription. – Hot Licks Jan 14 '15 at 21:43

I'll shorten the original sentence "Me staring in your dead eye with my hand around your throat" to the structurally equivalent "Me looking at you". Well, the equivalence extends to the part of the structure that counts, anyway.

Here, "me" is a disjunctive pronoun. The fact that the sentence doesn't follow the typical SVO structure of English sentence syntax isn't odd. It's an example of an elliptical construction, more specifically answer ellipsis. As has already been pointed out, sentences like "me looking at you" are pretty limited to being an answer to some question. Intuitively, it feels like there's something missing before "me" for this to be a full sentence that can stand alone without needing more discourse context. The standalone sentence would be SVO, and we can view the sentence with ellipsis as having an underlying SVO structure.

An example of something that would work to fill the gap is, e.g. "The last thing you'll see is" (for "The last thing you'll see is me looking at you"). If we take "The last thing you'll see is me looking at you" as the underlying, implied sentence, then "The last thing you'll see is" is a valid target for answer ellipsis, if the question is formed appropriately. By contrast, "The last thing you'll see is looking" is not a valid target for ellipsis given the underlying SVO sentence and so "Me at you" is ungrammatical in this context.

Something interesting is that as I mentioned, the answer "Me looking at you" is only grammatical if the question is formed appropriately. If the question is "What's the last thing that I'll see?", then the answer "Me looking at you" is fine. However, if the question is "What's the last thing that I'll see you looking at?", then the answer ellipsis sentence would be ungrammatical, but the non-elided answer would be fine:

Q: "What's the last thing that I'll see you looking at?"

A: *"Me looking at you" (bad)
A: "The last thing you'll see is me looking at you" (okay)
  • An answer far better than the question. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 14 '15 at 23:45
  • The verbal phrase me looking at you certainly follows SVO order, since me is the subject of the non-finite verb looking at, and you is its object. It is not an independent clause because there is no tensed verb, but it clearly is SVO. – tchrist Jan 15 '15 at 3:10
  • It can be argued that "me" is not a good candidate for the position of the subject. It doesn't agree with any verb in number and person (there's no good way to insert a tensed verb into this phrase without using pleonastics). It's not in the nominative case (a very strong tendency in English). It's difficult to omit without changing the intended meaning ("looking at you" is something different as, e.g. an answer to the question "What's the last thing I'll see?"). The semantic role is about the only thing that marks this as a subject. – aalto Jan 15 '15 at 7:44

"What's your idea of a perfect vacation?" "[Me] playing Halo on a beach with a Margarita and a rocket launcher".

The sentence intends to respond to some question/situation by describing the answer.

The "me" part is kind of an emphasis, and in both my and the OP's example, it implies some level of sadism.

It's not just the "staring in your dead eye" that's important, HE has to do it.

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