Forgive me if this has already been asked. I understand that some aspects of this lovely language have dependencies on where and when things are used so I'm not quite sure if this question can be answered by other general questions (most of which specifically focus on when to use "me" or "I" which is not my question).

Some useless backstory: Two of my coworkers had a disagreement today about the placement of a "me" in a binary list of people. I was roped into this discussion near the end of the day and sided with one coworker that when discussing yourself via a "list" you should always list yourself last. This is the rule I was taught at a young age and have adhered to since. I tried to bring up some reference and discussion about the rule but none was found convincing enough for my coworker to conceded her point (she was obviously wrong, isn't that how discussions go?).

The piece in question is this statement. "... due to the disagreements between me and Anthony." I feel that this grammatically incorrect and it doesn't even sound right when I speak it aloud, but my coworker is dead set that in this case the use of "me" before the name is acceptable and more correct (maybe I added that aspect to her argument, I can't recall 100% at this moment in time) than the other coworkers (and my) suggestion of "Anthony and I."

So the question is (as I was really unable to google for a decent resource to explain this rule) does this rule apply to all situations in which you are part of a list or only in certain situations, and in that case - which situations does it not apply?

(forgive invalid tags please, I'm open to suggestions/edits but this not a place I frequent so I'm not quite sure what to tag this as correctly)

closed as off-topic by Vilmar, RegDwigнt Apr 9 '15 at 8:46

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  • 1
    Technically, I agree with you. But again a focus of this question that differed (despite whether it matters or not) is the specific location of the list. – Brandon Buck Apr 9 '15 at 4:03
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a rule of English, or any language, that "you should always list yourself last". That is a purely cultural rule. As far as the English language is concerned, John and me is just as grammatical as me and John or me and that fat asshole John. – RegDwigнt Apr 9 '15 at 8:46
  • Fair enough, this is only something I learned through this question (at least with sources I'm more willing to trust). – Brandon Buck Apr 9 '15 at 12:36
  1. To me, this isn't about being grammatically correct, but about using a style that expresses politeness.

And, as I expected, she agrees with me:-)

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing - Page 146 Mignon Fogarty - 2008

It is a matter of politeness, not grammar, that leads people to put themselves last in a list. In the same way that you hold a door open to let others walk through first, you should let everyone else go first in your sentences.

And, BTW, I found this as a result of this search at Google Books:

me I "last in a list" grammar

Now, how much are the writers complying, you're asking?

Well, for a given core expression, we find at Google Books (BTW, do not use vanilla Google, too many uneducated, too many non-native samples)

"between John and me but" About 219 results

"between me and John but" 8 results

I'd say they are pretty much complying. Noblesse oblige :-)


  1. Now, this other reference does not mention politeness, it just says that the prescriptive grammars required that the first person pronoun be in the last position:

Grammar for Teachers: A Guide to American English for Native and Non-Native ... By Andrea DeCapua

"In addition, the personal pronoun I should follow any other noun subject or personal pronoun."

And, BTW, I found this reference as a result of this search at Google Books:

"John and me" grammar

which shows other related books too.

Thus, there are two schools of thought, it seems:

The first goes for politeness, the second for the prescriptive grammars of yesteryear as being the source of this prescription.

It might be that the Grammar Girl is too young to remember such grammars:-)

  • Interesting. This is definitely not the explanation given during these lessons on school. I did read about it being politeness, but with no sources it just didn't really seem like an answer. Another possibility is probably the fact I didn't want that to be the answer. – Brandon Buck Apr 9 '15 at 4:06
  • Please wait for an update. Found another interesting reference. – Marius Hancu Apr 9 '15 at 4:17
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    +1, but you left out something important: the OP's proposed wording is "between Anthony and I", rather than "between Anthony and me". Both have a long history, but traditional grammar rejects the former and allows only the latter (since "between" is a preposition; just we say "for me", not *"for I", traditional grammar demands "for Anthony and me" and "between Anthony and me"). "Between Anthony and me" is almost universally preferred in careful prose. – ruakh Apr 9 '15 at 4:22
  • So your saying it's grammatically correct to list the first person pronoun last according to formal rules, but modern convention considers only a politeness and no longer a rule? – Brandon Buck Apr 9 '15 at 12:39
  • Not quite. I'm saying it was grammatically correct according to prescriptive grammar books, which however have fallen out of favor with grammar teachers lately to list the first person pronoun last according to formal rules, but modern convention considers only a politeness and no longer a rule. – Marius Hancu Apr 9 '15 at 12:55

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