3

I am confused how I should conjugate the verb with this construction, at the start of a sentence:

Me, as a X, [verb]...

Should I use the first or third person?

closed as off-topic by Edwin Ashworth, Xanne, Hot Licks, Peter Shor , David Jul 14 '17 at 16:57

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • First of all, since the pronoun (me) is a subject, it must be nominative; hence, it is the nominative I instead of the objective me. Additionally, since it is the subject, the predicate must agree with it; therefore, you should use the first-person singular form of the verb. – Khuldraeseth na'Barya Jul 13 '17 at 23:21
  • 1
    @Scrooble So it should be: "I, as an artist, know better"? – MasterScrat Jul 13 '17 at 23:23
  • @Master you haven't given enough context to determine whether me is incorrect, despite what the two existing answers proclaim. If you want to use me you might be able to use knows; it depends on what type of English you are writing in. – AmE speaker Jul 13 '17 at 23:37
  • 1
    @Clare The capital (in the body text at least) indicates an attempted subject. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 13 '17 at 23:52
  • @EdwinAshworth I don't really see that. Could you explain? – Araucaria Jul 14 '17 at 0:08
5

"Me, as an artist, knows better” or “know better”?

I parse these commas as being parenthetical:

"Me (as an artist) knows better” or “know better”?

Parenthetical commas denote a removable phrase that leaves behind a grammatically correct sentence.

"Me knows better”

Ow!

“Me know better”

Ow!

"I know better"

Ah!

"I, as an artist, know better"

Sure ya do artsy boy. :)

  • On the other hand, "Me, as an artist, I know beter" or "Me, I know better" would be OK, wouldn't it? – bof Jul 14 '17 at 5:43
  • @bof I would agree with you that it is OK, but do consider that both your examples are omitting parts of the sentence, e.g. "[If you're talking about] me; I know better." (but a semicolon does appear to be out of place when that gets contracted to the single word "Me") – Flater Jul 14 '17 at 9:29
1

The other answer focuses on "correcting" the use of the accusative pronoun me to the nominative I in this construction, which of course will force the use of the first person agreement. To me the more interesting question is whether the sentence with the accusative is possible, and if it is, what agreement should be on the verb.

Personally, I have no problem with the sentence as given with the accusative pronoun, and the nominative form sounds overly stuffy (although certainly not unacceptable.) With that in mind, the third person agreement is required when the pronoun is accusative.

The reasons for this are very likely because the accusative pronoun is never a subject, but is an a presentential "topic" position. This is possibly the same position as left dislocated pronouns show up (as has been mentioned), and this explains why the accusative form of the pronoun is used.

So why the third person agreement and not first person? This is exactly the same pattern we find when accusative pronouns are linked to subject positions in cleft constructions:

  1. It's me who is leaving early.
  2. *It's me who am leaving early.

Even though the actual antecedent of the subject of the clause is leaving early is first person, the WH pronoun who is the element that is actually controlling the agreement here, and first person agreement is impossible. Now we know that this WH pronoun does not need to to be pronounced, because we can also say (3). that here is not pronominal here under most current syntactic analyses but is just the regular complementizer that.

  1. It's me that is leaving early.

So an analysis of (3) would have an unpronounced WH pronoun connected to the subject of the clause that is leaving early, and controlling the third person agreement.

I think this is exactly what is going on in the sentence in question, i.e., it's more like a cleft construction with an unpronounced WH pronoun which controls third person agreement not first.

This isn't meant to invalidate the answers which discuss the I form; I just think that the sentence as given requires an analysis to the extent that native speakers actually say things like this.

  • This could be a dialectal thing, but I have never in my life heard anyone utter a sentence like the one in the question. “Me, as an artist, know[s] better” is just completely and utterly ungrammatical to me. I agree that “I, as an artist, know better” is a bit stuffy, but that’s because the entire construction, wedging the parenthetical in between the subject and the verb, is stuffy. “As an artist, I know better” is normal, and “As an artist, me know[s] better” is still ungrammatical. “Us, as artists, knows better” is even worse to me—total gibberish. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 14 '17 at 16:23
  • @JanusBahsJacquet "Us, as artists, knows better" is predicted to be ungrammatical, since who does show number agreement (I think). So in that case it would "Us, as artists, know better.* (3rd plural). cf. "It's us/them who are going", not "?It's us/them who is going". Although this contrast isn't as strong. – Alan Munn Jul 14 '17 at 16:26
  • I don’t think I really buy that. I have heard quite a few native speakers (of AmE, at least—possibly not of other Englishes, can’t be sure) say things like “It’s us who’s going”, and though I don’t think I’d naturally produce it myself, I don’t find it particularly jarring either. At least no more jarring than the general clumsiness of cleft constructions with simple personal pronouns (excluding deictics and third singulars) as a whole: I’d consider “It’s us who’s going” and “It’s us who are going” more or less equally jarring. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 14 '17 at 16:34
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I think the contraction here is important, similar to the "There's some problems with this analysis" type cases. – Alan Munn Jul 14 '17 at 16:35
  • True, “It’s us who is going” sounds less likely. But since we are (or at least I am) talking about natural speech here, there’s a huge bias in favour of the contracted form in almost any context. The examples in your answer also sound highly unnatural to me without the contraction, for example (especially because it’s is contracted in them). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 14 '17 at 16:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.