A Preposition For You

No, that’s not a typo. Here’s a preposition for you. In fact, here are several. These are the smallest of words in our language, yet they impact us—or rather, our words—with a real force. I’m not going to get into all the prepositions in our usage; the New York Writers Guide to Style and Usage has pages and chapters devoted to prepositions and their correct, as well as incorrect, uses.

I am, however, going to address the most-used in everyday conversation prepositions and how they affect the words following them, particularly the personal pronouns. I don’t object to how people, especially our younger counterparts, use the prepositions so much, but oh boy! do I object to how they misuse and abuse the personal pronouns that follow. I believe that if they learn the correct way to express a prepositional phrase, then they won’t misuse the personal pronouns. The one that really twists my knickers (and I don’t even wear them!) is the objective case of the pronoun *I*, that is, *me*. Ex.: Me and my buddies are going to the movies. OMG!

So let’s begin with our personal pronouns: singular subjective: I, you, he/she/it. Plural subjective: we, you, they. Now, let’s go to the objective case of those. Me, you, him/her/it. Plurals are us, you, them. For some reason, the more youthful among us have decided to use “me” as the subject in any and every instance. I’ve even heard brilliant contestants on Jeopardy declare, “Me and my buddies were in France… or wherever…” Alex Trebek joined me in turning various shades of red, purple, green and yellow as our tongues bled dry. First of all, it’s very rude to put yourself first. Not only should you use “I” as the subject, but you should put the other people before you in the sentence. Eg.: My buddies and I were in France….

If you say, give the pencil to me, that’s the correct usage of the personal pronoun, I, in its objective case—object of the preposition to. You don’t say, give the pencil to I. That shouldn’t even sound correct to you. By the same token, you would correctly say, this is between you and me. Both you and me are the objective cases of you and I, object of the preposition between. (Note, the Establishment chose to keep the pronoun “you” the same for subjective and objective cases, as well as singular and plural. Easy, peasy.)

Let’s try to simplify all this.

Personal Pronoun/Subject (Insert/Assume Verb) then a Preposition Personal Pronoun/Object
I/We Of, for, to, by, with, between, in, on, from, over, upon, etc Me, us
You/You Same as above You/You
He/she/it…they Same as above Him/her/it…them

If the subject of a sentence (the person or thing who is performing the action/verb) performs that action, the results—or object—of that action has to be in the objective case. Most words don’t change at all between the subject and the object, except for their placement on the diagram should you revert to those horrible punishments. (I love English and grammar, but I still hate diagramming.) BUT, the personal pronouns do change. And they change exactly as they’re outlined in the table above.

So, if you walk away from this blog with nothing else, please leave with the determination that you will never, ever use the objective case (me) of the personal pronoun (I) as a subject. Repeat after me: I will do this; I will go there; I never use “me” as a subject. I do everything. I am only me when I receive.

Whew! I feel so much better.