Home > Uncategorized > “Her and I”: How to banish painful personal-pronoun pairings

“Her and I”: How to banish painful personal-pronoun pairings

My father is living with my wife and I.

A businessman recently sent this statement out to thousands of readers. Does the I hurt your ears?

It should. But if it doesn’t — if the I sounds right to you, or if you’re vaguely uncomfortable with it but aren’t sure why, or if you never know whether to say I or me but you favor I because you’ve heard lots of otherwise well-informed people talk that way — you’re not alone. Pronoun misuse is not unusual in today’s American parlance.

The trouble arises, as is so often the case, only when two parties are involved. No one would say My father is living with I. What trips people up is the and.

So get rid of it. At least cover up the and with your mind’s hand for a picosecond before you speak or write.

Example: Him/He and me/I went fishing this morning.

Cover up the and. Look at each pronoun by itself:

  • Him/He went fishing this morning.
  • Me/I went fishing this morning.

No problem. No one would say Him went fishing or Me went fishing. Don’t let that little troublemaker, and, change a thing. If it’s He went fishing and I went fishing, then it’s He and I went fishing.

Every time.

If your ear needs recalibrating, try these sentences. Say the correct versions out loud. Repeat until what’s right sounds right.

  • She/Her and I/me went to the store to get ice cream.
  • The armchair was big enough for her/she and I/me.
  • Are you coming to the game with she/her and me/I?
  • Will you drive him/he and I/me home?
  • That truck is perfect for she/her and me/I.
  • Throw the football to her/she and I/me.
  • Build him/he and I/me and house.
  • Grammar habits are not easy for they/them and me/I to unlearn.
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  1. Melinda
    January 24, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Nice blog post. Is this sentence correct? “Throw the football to her and me.”

    It sounds strange to me/I, but if I cover up the and, then it’s:

    “Throw the football to her.”

    “Throw the football to me.”

  2. January 24, 2011 at 11:09 am

    You nailed it, Melinda. And you made me/I smile. Please send this post to everyone you know who talks this way.

  3. Wendy Hood
    January 24, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I wish everyone who uses the English language would learn this skill; thank you for sharing it.

  4. Stella
    January 24, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I love your quick and easy explanation ( “cover up the AND” ) almost impossible to use the wrong word then.

  5. January 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Wendy, I’m with you. How about forwarding this URL to everyone who uses the English language?

    Mother (Stella), It wasn’t easy to restrain myself from launching into a description of objective case vs. nominative case. Thanks for giving me an excuse to drop these terms into the conversation. Anyone who’s interested in the grammatical underpinnings of this topic now has something to run with.

  6. Mary Lou
    January 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Right on! Being raised by an English teacher Mom, and being of an age to have learned the difference, my ear and sight are often barraged with the incorrect use of pronouns–even see it more often in books I read! You have given us an easy way with the removal of and!

  7. January 25, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Thanks for the note, Mary Lou. Yay for English teacher moms.

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