1

This question was specifically motivated by the Youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iitXhgif_lo which has the title "How one little boat (and me) held up miles of London traffic".

At first, knowing that, without the brackets (i.e: "How one little boat and me held up miles of London traffic") the use of "and me" would be a mistake and you should use "and I" because the pronoun is still part of the subject of the sentence, I thought the use in this title was also a mistake.

However, I then checked the sentence against Microsoft Word's grammar checker and Grammarly, and I found that, while without the brackets, the error was detected, with the brackets, no errors were found (obviously grammar-checking software is never foolproof, but I find it usually works quite well in simple cases such as this).

After thinking about it more, the part is brackets is not really a part of the main sentence, and so I guess the "me"/"I" is not actually doing the verb, but it still sounds odd to me.

Both Grammarly and Word also seem to accept "(and I)" as well, so I wondered, is one of them more correct? Is there a difference in meaning between the two? Are Word and Grammarly completely wrong?

2
  • 2
    The basic rule for I is that it's used as the sole subject of a verb. Any other use (like conjunction with another subject) calls out variations, and me is the normal pronoun for any 1st-person pronoun except sole subject of a verb. So that's what you get in speech. Aug 9, 2021 at 21:40
  • Brackets can be used instead of commas, in which case you would expect the usual rules of grammar to apply. But they are also often used for other information that doesn't necessarily form a part of the main sentence: if you have something like a citation, reference, definition, translation, or some other note in your brackets, it should be read as an addendum or footnote, not as a part of a sentence. Seemingly, Grammarly doesn't attempt to judge if the material in a bracket is an integral part of the sentence or not, and just ignores it.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 10, 2021 at 10:54

3 Answers 3

1

The war and the battle for It is I as opposed to It is me, has been going on for a long time. In 1877, Ebenezer Cobham Brewer wrote in the entry on “me” in “Errors of Speech and of Spelling, Volume 1”

‘Me” is used after the verb To be, and after the words than, but, like, and as, with such pertinacity it is at least doubtful whether it is not correct. C’est moi is the French Idiom, not Cest je, and It is me is far more common than It is I. (“Me” is dative not accusative case.)

Chaucer (Early Middle English) always used the usual nominative after "to be" and it is probably thus to the French influence and moi that we owe the nominative "me."

In "How one little boat (and me) held up miles of London traffic" "and me" is not part of the subject - it is in parenthesis.

Me as the nominative is commonly used in personal stressed pronouns (also known as disjunctive pronouns and emphatic pronouns.)

"Who wants £10?" "Me!"

Without the brackets: "How one little boat and me held up miles of London traffic" "and me" is no longer in parenthesis - it forms an equal part of the subject.

It is perhaps clearer in the present tense:

"How one little boat (and me) holds up miles of London traffic."

"How one little boat and me hold up miles of London traffic."

EDIT TO ADD

"How one little boat and I hold up miles of London traffic." sounds a little formal but is correct = "How we hold up miles of London traffic."

2
  • 1
    Richmal Crompton's William confessed to his father that he had broken a neighbour's window. 'It was me, Father', he said. 'It was I, William' came the reply. 'I say, Father' said William, brightening, 'it's jolly decent of you to take the blame'. Aug 9, 2021 at 21:55
  • Yes. In a way the problem is thinking of it as a matter of a rule, as opposed to one of standard usage. Isn't this one of those cases where usage has reached a kind of impasse? 'I', except when immediately before or (in some questions) after the verb or auxiliary, sounds more and more stilted. To some, even 'me' doesn't sound much better. So avoidance strategies abound because none of us is sure quite what to do. So in answer to the question 'who is the next in line to meet the Queen?' I should probably say "I am".
    – Tuffy
    Aug 9, 2021 at 23:09
0

You should trust your gut in this case, as the correct answer is "How one little boat and I". I believe the reason for Grammarly and Word failing in this case is that they depend on statistical models built from millions of example sentences. When you add in parentheses, it makes the model less certain, which causes it to no longer flag it as an error.

0

The rule of thumb is use "me" in any case other than the nominative.

To rephrase: use "me" when there's a preposition involved.

To simplify:

Substitute a third person personal pronoun ("he" or "she") and see if it makes sense. If it does not, try "him" or "her."

Use "I" wherever "he" or "she" fits, and "me" when "him" or "her" does.

Any other approach lacks elegance and is laughable, including those comical attempts on the part of the semi-literate to sound "genteel."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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