Dear Conservative Mom,
I don’t want to come across as “easy”, but please feel free to use me anytime.
Whether you are chuckling over this letter’s double entendre, or, curious about what “conservative moms” have to do with “proper grammar”, both reactions are valid.
Recently, my oldest son said; “Mom, me and Joey are going to the game tomorrow.” He’s a bright, well-educated young man, with an MBA in Business Management, so imagine my horror when I heard his statement. As I corrected him, he said, “Mom, I know, but it’s just the way my generation talks.”
That isn’t a good excuse for bad grammar. No matter what you do for a living or the social circles you travel in, your clients and your friends deserve to hear you use good English and proper grammar.
Between texting, tweeting, “urban speak,” and other slang, proper grammar is becoming a lost art. Jay Leno’s “headlines” routine used to make grammar mistakes into a joke. Do you want your friends and clients to see you as a big joke, or a pro?
Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent mistakes with the worst pronoun offenders: I/me, we/us, he/she, him/her they/them.
Subject pronouns replace you or the person who is doing the action in the sentence. They are: I, she, he, we, they.
Object pronouns are the people receiving the action, or just standing by. They are me, us, them, him, her.
Confusion often happens when you and somebody else are both taking the action in the sentence. George and (I /me) went to Starbucks for coffee. A trick is to take out the other person. Take out George, and you wouldn’t say “Me went to Starbucks for Coffee,” unless you are Tarzan!
Try this one: If you are confused, please ask for Jordan or (I/me). Take out “Jordan” and you wouldn’t say, “Please ask for I.”
A lot of popular songs use grammar incorrectly, but you can use this as a fun exercise and learning experience for you and your kids. Find a lyric with bad grammar, and then re-sing the verse correctly. It may sound funny, but it will be a great way to remember!
Another trick is knowing the pronoun families that go together to help with I/me, us/we confusion. The “I” family: I, she, he, we, they. The “Me” family: me, us, them, him/her.
The word between also tells you to use us, you and me, you and her or him, them. A recent Boston Globe article by Joan Wickersham pointed out that “between you and I [is] considered a hypercorrection. Between you and me, we know we’re right.”
Word matter, and you know the importance of what you want to communicate. When you speak with style and correct grammar, your words will carry a little more weight, and elevate you in the eyes of your listeners.