When to Use 'You & I' or 'You & Me'

Instructor: David Boyles

David has a Master's in English literature. He has taught college English for 5+ years.

There is a lot of confusion about when to use 'You and I' or 'You and me', but it becomes easy if you realize that 'I' is a subjective pronoun and 'me' is an objective pronoun.

Pronouns

It's Friday night and Dave wants to see if his buddy Sam wants to watch a movie, so he says:

'How about Sam and Dave go see a movie at 8:00?'

Huh? Dave sounds like a weirdo here, because he is not using any pronouns. Pronouns are a class of words that take the place of nouns in order to make reading, writing, and speaking easier. Common pronouns include 'I', 'me', 'you', 'she', 'he', 'it', and 'us'. So any time you say 'I' or 'me' instead of your own name, you are using a pronoun (and I just used on there when I said 'you'.)

Dave needs some pronouns. The first one is easy. Instead of using Sam's name, since Sam knows who he is, he can replace it with 'you', the second-person pronoun you use for the person you are speaking directly to:

'How about you and Dave go see a movie at 8:00?'

But which pronoun should Dave use for himself? Unlike the second-person pronoun, where 'you' is the only one, there are two first-person pronouns to use when referring to yourself: 'I' and 'me'.

Subject and Object

Now a lot of you are thinking he should use 'I' because it is more 'formal'. You might have even been told by an English teacher that 'me' is informal language.

But guess what: that's totally wrong.

Neither 'I' nor 'me' is any better or worse than the other one. Instead, they just have different jobs. 'I' is a subjective pronoun and 'me' is an objective pronoun.

What does that mean? Well, most sentences have two different types of nouns: a subject and an object. The subject of the sentence is the noun doing the action and the object is having the action done to it. So take a look at this simple sentence:

'Joe threw the ball.'

Joe, who is throwing the ball, is the subject, and the ball, which is being thrown, is the object.

Back to 'I' and 'Me'

With that tidbit of knowledge, let's go back to Dave. In the sentence, the verb is 'go' and Sam and Dave are the ones who are going. So they are the subjects of the sentence and Dave would want to use 'I':

'How about you and I go see a movie at 8:00?'

But what if the sentence was this?

'Mom gave Sam and Dave $20 for the movie.'

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