“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.
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.