Why do we always put "I" or "me" at the end of a list of nouns in a sentence. For example we would say "John, Sam, and I are going to the mall" instead of "I, John, and Sam are going to the mall"

Is there a grammatical/logical reason for this, or is this just a convention that we're accustomed to? The sentence would make just as much sense no matter where "I" goes in the list.

  • 3
    In children's speech, and to some degree in spontaneous colloquial speech, "me and ___" can also be heard. The rule that "I or me always goes last in a list" is explicitly taught to native speakers as they grow up. The usual reason given is politeness. There is no grammatical or logical reason that I know of. So, I would say it is just a convention. A relevant question: Object pronoun: me and John, or John and me?
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:25
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    It is considered polite, that's all. However, there are times one would say: I, my cat and his dog are travelling next week. It's a question of what style or tone you wish to impart (to your readers or audience).
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:27
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    If I had said, "I, Debbie and Janet are going skating." when I was a child, my Mom would have added, "...and the donkey goes first". I guess that meant that it was more polite to name everyone else first. :-) Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:29
  • 3
    Very cute, really. Gold star to your Mom.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:39
  • When you are part of the subject, you choose I. But when John is the star of my sentence, I say "John did that to me." Me is an object pronoun, and I am a subject. And if the previous sentence sounds good to you, you need some grammar lessons. As for your question, I agree with @sumelic He should write up an answer and call it good. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


I don't think it's true that you always put personal pronouns last at the end of a list. For example, "you" tends to be listed first,as in: "You and Mike did a good job on that project."

I think that emphasizes that the practice is a matter of courtesy. You list the person you are speaking directly to first, yourself last, and everyone else in between: "You, Bob, Mary, and I were the only ones left."

  • It's first person pronouns that go last.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 20:38

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