I/me (disjunctive pronoun): Who attended? <I, Me, My parents> and <I, me, my parents>.

Robocop

Senior Member
(Swiss) German
Disjunctive pronouns seem to be a controversial issue in English.
Look at this example:
Who attended the meeting with the headmaster?
(a) My parents and I!
(b) My parents and me!
(c) I and my parents!
(d) Me and my parents!
Which answer(s) is (are) correct?
According to a Wikipedia article, "modern speakers" would generally use "me" whereas language purists would insist on "I".
Thanks for any useful guidance on this topic.
 
  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    If I were starting the conversation, I would say "My parents and I met with the headmaster". If I were answering the question I might use either "Me and my parents" or "My parents and I" depending on how formal I want to be. Usually you put yourself last in the list, so (a) is the correct usage. (b) and (d) are banes on a teacher's existence, but widely used.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I always say "Me an <subject>", and I don't think I would ever say otherwise, I don't think I've ever said "<subject> and I" in a serious way, ever in my entire life.
    I know a lot of people are going to mooaaan and moooaaan about how it's correct to use it, it's just been such a long time for many people not saying it, it feels wrong to change.
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    @tepatria: thanks.
    I presume that in your second sentence you wanted to write "... I might use either "My parents and me" (instead of "Me and my parents"!) or "My parents and I" ..." because otherwise you would contradict your statements in the two sentences at the end.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    To me, (c) is the only one which strikes me as incorrect in the sense that no-one (I assume) would ever use it. The other three are all possibilities, depending, as others have said, on the degree of formality amongst other things.

    In terms of the purist argument, it seems odd to me that 'I' should be considered more correct because if you break down the reply into its elements you only have the following as possibilities:

    Who attended the meeting with the headmaster?
    (i) My parents
    (ii) Me

    "I" would not be an option (unless expanded to "I did").

    Anyway, I'm sure there are purist arguments I'm not aware of, but perhaps looking at the response in that way would at least avoid the danger of coming up with the incorrect option (c).
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In terms of the purist argument, it seems odd to me that 'I' should be considered more correct because if you break down the reply into its elements you only have the following as possibilities:

    Who attended the meeting with the headmaster?
    (i) My parents
    (ii) Me

    "I" would not be an option (unless expanded to "I did").
    Actually, when one breaks the question down to its elements, "I" is definitely an option, while "me" seems absurd:

    Who attended the meeting with the headmaster?
    My parents [attended the meeting with the headmaster]. (Yes, that sounds fine.)
    Me [attended the meeting with the headmaster]. ("Me attended"? Unless one is doing a bad imitation of an old Tarzan movie, this sounds very odd, and is unacceptable.)
    I [attended the meeting with the headmaster]. (No problem there at all...)
     

    anhonestfool

    Member
    USA, Northwest American English
    I'm with Mally, and I speak American English. I'm going to assume that what you're asking is what the common usage would be. Most people speaking to each other in an informal situation would use the "me" form.
    Yes, of course it sounds ridiculous if you say "me attended". Nobody says that.
    Using the "me" form may not be proper English, but it's common English. Language changes all the time, so that the lines between what's right and wrong become blurred.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The lines have not "blurred" so far that, when one "breaks down the reply into its elements" (as I did), it is in any way clear that "'I' would not be an option", let alone an "incorrect option".

    "Me" may be common, and tolerated without a qualm by some, but that in no way makes the grammatically correct choice either unavailable or "incorrect" for those who use it.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    I think the interpretation of the grammar of the reply is what is at question here, and obviously subject to UK/US differences. In the UK grammar, an object (albeit human) is obviously acceptable as a reply. According to your explanation of the US grammar, it seems to be an implied sentence that is expected as the reply even if only the actual subject part of that implied sentence is given in the reply.

    Yes "Me attended" is absurd and obviously incorrect if used in a sentence, but that's not what's happening in the UK English. It's just the one word on its own - no actual or implied sentence at all. That's why I said specifically that replying with a sentence ("I did") would make a difference. (And of course, "Me did" *would be absurd).

    Obviously with your explanation of the US grammar, "I" does become a valid option, and I stand corrected, but not to the degree of accepting that "Me" is an absurd or unacceptable option. Clearly it isn't, not in the UK at least.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Obviously with your explanation of the US grammar, "I" does become a valid option, and I stand corrected, but not to the degree of accepting that "Me" is an absurd or unacceptable option. Clearly it isn't, not in the UK at least.
    My explanation is not merely of US grammar. "I" is just as grammatically correct in the UK as it is in the US. It is certainly not "incorrect" in the UK to say "I and my parents attended".
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    It is certainly not "incorrect" in the UK to say "I and my parents attended".
    Very true, and I obviously wasn't trying to disagree with you on that, except that if you look at the actual replies in the original example, the word "attended" is missing. It is implied in your grammar, and I would conjecture, not in mine. I think there is possibly a historical usage in which "I" would be accepted, and for some reason I have an image of Captain Bligh at his court martial answering a question "Who gave the order?" "I, Sir", but in current use, I think it would sound odd, to my ears at least.

    If I haven't explained myself well enough (and I have to admit it is a little convoluted and I'm not necessarily using all the correct grammatical terminology), I think I'll leave it there. There's nothing I can really add, and I don't think there's any particular need to reach a definitive agreement - even if such a thing were possible.

    Mally
     

    dobes

    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    I totally agree with GreenWhiteBlue. Bad grammar is always attributed to AE in this forum, and I'm getting upset about that! "My parents and I" is what I would say now, and what I would have said as a child. I recognize "My parents and me" as in use, but also as ungrammatical. The others I don't even recognize, and have not heard in use -- everyone I know would put themselves last in the list, whether they used "I" or "me".
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I hadn't realized this was as difficult as some people make it sound.
    What's the matter with the following rules? :-

    1. Always say the other person first, out of deference.
    2. Always use whichever of I or me you would use if you were the only person.

    The value of the second rule is illustrated by the absurdity of me attended. And I and my parents attended just sounds ill-mannered.

    Who attended? Are you a person who naturally says I, or me, if it's just you in such a case? The answer to that question determines how you should reply when you are with other people. I would say 'my parents and I', but then my family and I are regarded as over-fussy about how we speak. I wouldn't be shocked by 'my parents and me' used disjunctively, the way I am frequently by things like 'Me and Charlie are going to the football match'. And, or course, I'd say the headmaster saw my parents and me.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    I totally agree with GreenWhiteBlue. Bad grammar is always attributed to AE in this forum, and I'm getting upset about that! "My parents and I" is what I would say now, and what I would have said as a child. I recognize "My parents and me" as in use, but also as ungrammatical. The others I don't even recognize, and have not heard in use -- everyone I know would put themselves last in the list, whether they used "I" or "me".
    Who attributed bad grammar to American English? Certainly not me - my own observations were coming from a background of UK English, something I would hope would be reasonably clear from my avatar and profile info.

    I don't think there's any need for anyone to get upset over this type of discussion. I'm certainly not upset that my own habitual/shared usage is being dismissed as grammatically incorrect.

    In practice, I think there needs to be at least a sensitivity that what's considered normal in one part of the world or one section of society is not necessarily going to sound right in another.
     

    anhonestfool

    Member
    USA, Northwest American English
    Yes,
    I have to say that people seem to be getting a bit unneccesarily heated about this topic. There surely isn't any need to throw out snippy comments.
    Clearly there are some here that are absolute purists when it comes to how the English language should be used. I believe that that's okay.
    And then there are those of us, like myself, who very much appreciate the informal language, even when it is not rigidly adhering to the rules.
    I find that the common language of people is often more warm and fun, and that's why I like it.
    Eventually, I believe, common usage becomes proper usage. It is interesting to watch it change.
    Let's all get along despite our differences.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I'm certainly not upset that my own habitual/shared usage is being dismissed as grammatically incorrect.
    Considering that you dismissed the gramatically correct use of I as "not an option" (your words) and "incorrect" (your term), I agree that it would be unreasonable to be upset if anyone else should do much the same to your usage.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    Oh dear, do I have to repeat myself:

    "Obviously with your explanation of the US grammar, "I" does become a valid option, and I stand corrected".
    Really though, looking at my original post, I don't see how I could have gone out of my way to make it more obvious that my opinion was qualified, personal and guarded, and as I've said, the UK context couldn't have be any clearer from my profile info and avatar. Just look at some of the language in my original post: "To me", "strikes me as", "(I assume)", "it seems odd to me", "should be considered", "possibilities", "unless", "arguments I'm not aware of", "perhaps". Not exactly laying the law down, and not universal in scope. Yes, I'm happy to admit looking back at my post that my final sentence was missing "what is possibly an" or similar, but given the qualifiers in the lead up to that last clause, was that really such an oversight?

    I can only echo anhonestfool's sentiments: Let's all get along despite our differences.

    Mally
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I'd go with "my parents and I", but I have to admit that I might say, "my parents and me" in a casual conversation when I was thinking about what I was saying. It's so common to hear that nowadays.

    I'm curious, though, if those would think "me" works also extend it to other conjugations. Would it also sound ok to those who use "me" to say:

    Who attended the meeting?

    Their parents and them/Them and their parents
    His parents and him/Him and his parents
    Her parents and her/Her and her parents


    Or does it work primarily with the first person singular: me.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    "Him and his parents" sounds perfectly OK to me (personally, Cheshire UK and all that), and is what I'd use if the occasion arose. (Probably pronounced - by me - something like "Him an'is parents" in real life).
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Is there really an appreciable difference between AE and BE in this respect? That wasn't my impression.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I disagree. Here's what I think happened in this thread: the two most vocal posters happened to be a traditionalist American and a (for the lack of a better term) non-traditionalist English person. This gave the impression that there's a divide between AE and BE in the population at large, but I don't know if those two posters are representative of the general situation. I have some doubts that they are.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    Well it would certainly be interesting to see. I'm happy to take a back seat and see what other people's experience of this is, and I can only apologise for hogging the discussion, but there's not really been a point until now that I've felt able to break off.
     

    anhonestfool

    Member
    USA, Northwest American English
    Is there really an appreciable difference between AE and BE in this respect? That wasn't my impression.

    I really don't believe that there is.
    I think the difference is that some people think that language should be spoken absolutely properly, and some don't. Another possibility to consider is regional differences in the U.S.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    There is no difference at all between BE and AE in this respect. In both BE and AE, "My parents and I" would be the grammatically correct response, while "My parents and me" would be commonly said in casual conversation. My objection is to the repeated contention that "I" is grammatically correct in the US, but in the UK there is some different "grammar" in effect which makes "I" incorrect and "me" the grammatically preferred choice.

    The idea that there is a grammatical difference found on the different sides of the Atlantic Ocean is false. The structural grammar in both countries is, in fact, the same. In both countries, the understood verb is "attended", and so if one analyzes the structure of the sentence, the grammatical requirement is that the nominative be used. As it so happens, in both countries it is common to hear "me" used instead -- but there is no foundation whatsoever to any claim that "me", whicle technically ungrammatical in the US, is to be preferred by special rules of English grammar that are in effect only in the UK.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    What's the matter with the following rules? :-

    1. Always say the other person first, out of deference.
    2. Always use whichever of I or me you would use if you were the only person.
    They're great rules, Thomas - I'm just not sure I follow them!

    If I went alone to the meeting, then my answer to the question "Who attended the meeting?" would - depending on the formality of the context - be either "me" or "I did". Although I hear and understand the arguments, stand-alone "I" would not, for me, be an option.

    If I went with my parents - an unlikely eventuality given that they're no longer alive, but let that pass - then, oddly enough, I would have three options: "me and my parents" (for use in very casual contexts); "my parents and I did"; and "my parents and I". "Me and my parents" breaks your rule 1; and the fact that I have an extra option in this context breaks your rule 2.

    Why??? I think it's because it's drummed into us here (or at least it used to be) that the often-heard "me and Fred did X" is 'bad grammar', and that we ought to say "Fred and I" - so much so that people hypercorrect, and use "Fred and I" in grammatical contexts where "Fred and me" is perfectly proper. "[Other person] and I" has in a sense taken on a life of its own...

    Would it also sound ok to those who use "me" to say:

    Who attended the meeting?

    Their parents and them/Them and their parents
    His parents and him/Him and his parents
    Her parents and her/Her and her parents
    Again, there's a difference for me between the 'solo' situation and the 'person + parents' situation, though I personally wouldn't use him, her, them in either context:

    Who attended the meeting? he did/ she did/ they did.

    Who attended the meeting? he and his parents/she and her parents/ they and their parents
    Who attended the meeting? he and his parents did/she and her parents did/ they and their parents did.

    Logical? Not at all! Robocop, you got it right in your original post in this thread:

    Disjunctive pronouns seem to be a controversial issue in English.
    Loob
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Disjunctive pronouns seem to be a controversial issue in English.
    Look at this example:
    Who attended the meeting with the headmaster?
    (a) My parents and I!
    (b) My parents and me!
    (c) I and my parents!
    (d) Me and my parents!
    Which answer(s) is (are) correct?
    According to a Wikipedia article, "modern speakers" would generally use "me" whereas language purists would insist on "I".
    Thanks for any useful guidance on this topic.
    Reflecting further on my earlier equivocal input...

    Robocop, the always-correct solution would be the one using the verb "did":

    "Who attended the meeting?" "My parents and I did" (put "I" after the other attendees for politeness' sake)
    "Who attended the meeting?" "You and your parents did".
    "Who attended the meeting?" "He and his parents did".
    "Who attended the meeting?" "She and her parents did".
    "Who attended the meeting?" "We and our parents did".
    "Who attended the meeting?" "They and their parents did".

    If you use "did" in this context, you can't upset anyone!

    Loob
     

    keepsakes

    Member
    English/Chinese Canada/China
    me denotes object
    I denotes subject

    I'm pretty sure that's the simplest way to look at it.

    So in fact, "my parents and me" or more commonly "me and my parents" are technically wrong, while "my parents and I" is the correct form.

    In most informal circumstances, it doesn't matter as much, but when you're talking about something like, a formal reflexive essay, then you must watch out.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    Having already established (in a different discussion) that there is no single 'correct' form of pronunciation, why do we have to have a single 'correct' form of grammar and a 'technically incorrect' form of grammar? I contend that the common usage ("Me" or "Me and my parents" etc) has its own rational grammar, and that that grammar is equally correct regardless of what the "received grammar" is.

    In other words, if the "received" (for want of a better term) grammatical theory fails to describe the common usage, then that grammatical theory - for that particular usage - is not the appropriate theory to apply to that usage. Hence my suggested alternative of a different grammar for the "me" forms of response, namely that a single word object or an object phrase is an acceptable response to this type of question. I see no problem in having two or more alternative grammars just as there is no problem in having two or more alternative pronunciations, each of them equally valid in their areas of usage.

    If this is complete and utter garbage, please don't worry too much about putting me to rights. I'm quite happy to let it stand as my own little anachronism of how I see the world... and I sincerely hope that it doesn't unintentionally offend anyone. Perhaps I should add that I don't have a clue what a disjunctive pronoun is other than what I've inferred from this discussion. Possibly in my case, ignorance is bliss? :)
     

    dobes

    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    Hi, anhonestfool and mally pense --

    One thing I could wish for more of in this forum is a clear division between what people believe is correct AE or BE grammar and what is in use in different English-speaking countries around the world. To me, when someone says, "Oh, that must be AE" -- and what 'must' be AE is to my AE ears ungrammatical and uneducated-- well, it does upset me. I don't have a problem with an AE-speaker saying, "That's what they say where I live" but I do have a problem when it's labeled AE, as if we all accept it and use it.

    I think a distinction between what is correct grammar and what is in use -- on both sides of the ocean -- would be helpful in avoiding misunderstandings.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Having already established (in a different discussion) that there is no single 'correct' form of pronunciation, why do we have to have a single 'correct' form of grammar and a 'technically incorrect' form of grammar? I contend that the common usage ("Me" or "Me and my parents" etc) has its own rational grammar, and that that grammar is equally correct regardless of what the "received grammar" is.

    In other words, if the "received" (for want of a better term) grammatical theory fails to describe the common usage, then that grammatical theory - for that particular usage - is not the appropriate theory to apply to that usage. Hence my suggested alternative of a different grammar for the "me" forms of response, namely that a single word object or an object phrase is an acceptable response to this type of question. I see no problem in having two or more alternative grammars just as there is no problem in having two or more alternative pronunciations, each of them equally valid in their areas of usage.

    If this is complete and utter garbage, please don't worry too much about putting me to rights. I'm quite happy to let it stand as my own little anachronism of how I see the world... and I sincerely hope that it doesn't unintentionally offend anyone. Perhaps I should add that I don't have a clue what a disjunctive pronoun is other than what I've inferred from this discussion. Possibly in my case, ignorance is bliss? :)
    mally,
    People come to these forums with a range of interests and needs.
    Many need to know how to write using English that will be accepted as correct by examiners and employers.
    Many need to know how to communicate fluently and effectively in conversation with business and professional colleagues.
    Many need to know the most appropriate usage in natural conversation in XXXX wherever XXXX happens to be.

    Many are interested in all of these and more.
    So it is important that we try to ensure that a reader, finding a thread on a particular topic, is not misled into believing that one of these is the norm for all purposes. We should all try to be clear which level of communication is the context for our comments.
    So, for example, while I support your stand for the naturalness of "Whe went to see the teacher? Me," as being a natural exchange, it is also important to note that this would probably draw criticism in some contexts.

    It's not always easy, and it's often a difficult line to keep to, but in the interests of maintaining the ethos of these forums: "The Forums promote learning and maintain an atmosphere that is serious, academic and collaborative, with a respectful, helpful and cordial tone," we all need to try.

    Hi, anhonestfool and mally pense --

    One thing I could wish for more of in this forum is a clear division between what people believe is correct AE or BE grammar and what is in use in different English-speaking countries around the world. To me, when someone says, "Oh, that must be AE" -- and what 'must' be AE is to my AE ears ungrammatical and uneducated-- well, it does upset me. I don't have a problem with an AE-speaker saying, "That's what they say where I live" but I do have a problem when it's labeled AE, as if we all accept it and use it.

    I think a distinction between what is correct grammar and what is in use -- on both sides of the ocean -- would be helpful in avoiding misunderstandings.
    A heartfelt sigh of support for dobes' point. It is too easy to label usage that is unfamiliar as an AE/BE difference. We really should not do that unless there is clear corroboration that the difference is not just two people with different opinions. I'll quote a forum rule:
    13. Any information, translations and definitions posted in these forums must be accompanied by a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy. Give sources for extensive quotations. If you are unsure of the accuracy of your information or translation, please say so.

    One thing that has struck me very forcibly over the past couple of years here is the number of times current AE usage has turned out to be the original English, from which BE has diverged. It behoves all of us to take care.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hi, Robocop, and welcome!

    I use the French model (with me as disjunctive) in day-to-day conversation and the Latin model (with I as nominative) in careful writing. They are both common all over the English speaking world, but the Latin model is what is taught in most schools and the French model is what most of us grew up with.

    One result of this conflict is that there are now second-generation users of I as a disjunctive and nominative (with me as accusative and dative). This seems to have started with those who were taught to use I where me would be natural but were not taught the complete Latin model.

    If we wanted to be most conservative, we would use the Anglo-Saxon/German model (e.g. That am I). As far as I know, though, no modern native does this.

    Anyway, since the French invasion of 1066 and centuries in which all educated Englishmen wrote in Latin and studied grammar from a Latin viewpoint, this conflict has been an inescapable part of our culture.

    Good question!
     

    anhonestfool

    Member
    USA, Northwest American English
    It is too easy to label usage that is unfamiliar as an AE/BE difference.
    I don't believe I ever made a statement suggesting that this was the case. Quite the opposite actually. See the post in which I replied to this question:
    Is there really an appreciable difference between AE and BE in this respect? That wasn't my impression.

    I really don't believe that there is.
    I think the difference is that some people think that language should be spoken absolutely properly, and some don't. Another possibility to consider is regional differences in the U.S.

    And I don't think that I could have been more clear in my posts saying that my preferences definitely don't reflect proper English usage. I do realize that there needs to be a distinction made in order to provide the people who visit this forum with the information that they need.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    ...
    ...We should all try to be clear which level of communication is the context for our comments.
    ...
    ...in the interests of maintaining the ethos of these forums: "The Forums promote learning and maintain an atmosphere that is serious, academic and collaborative, with a respectful, helpful and cordial tone," we all need to try...
    ...
    As panjandrum's reply is addressed to me personally, I think perhaps it is pertinent to clarify that the "all" in the above really does apply to all of us. I assume also that the need to maintain the respectful, helpful and cordial tone of the forum doesn't just apply to me personally either, but I think that is understood. :)

    Mally
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I hadn't realized this was as difficult as some people make it sound.
    What's the matter with the following rules? :-

    1. Always say the other person first, out of deference.
    2. Always use whichever of I or me you would use if you were the only person.

    The value of the second rule is illustrated by the absurdity of me attended. And I and my parents attended just sounds ill-mannered.

    Who attended? Are you a person who naturally says I, or me, if it's just you in such a case? The answer to that question determines how you should reply when you are with other people. I would say 'my parents and I', but then my family and I are regarded as over-fussy about how we speak. I wouldn't be shocked by 'my parents and me' used disjunctively, the way I am frequently by things like 'Me and Charlie are going to the football match'. And, or course, I'd say the headmaster saw my parents and me.
    This describes the Latin model very well (nominative v. dative/accusative). This is the way "proper" schools teach us to write. It is also the way my parents taught me, except that they sometimes slipped and used the French model (subjective v. objective v. disjunctive). Others around me used the French model exclusively when speaking.

    I have never heard anyone "slip" into the French model when speaking Spanish, so I think of the two "models" as two traditions that are both operating in English, as I have said.

    The best approach to good English, as I see it, is to be as familiar with the Latin model as possible, since it is used for formal writing, but then to recognize that the (modified) French model is excellent for learning French and persists for a reason.

    Actually, no one follows French or Latin to a T (e.g. "Fifi and me, we knew each other in high school." or "It was he that found her, after seeking her I."). Maybe that's because of the Parisian French/Anglo-French divide, or maybe it's because I is a little easier to stress than j'. :)
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    I was warned that the topic is controversial, and it is indeed!
    My principal concern was the disjunctive form, which has the pronoun standing alone or with a copula only. This got a bit out of the focus in some posts.
    As a native German speaker, I know very well the flexion of the noun and pronoun as well as the disjunctive construction with a nominative pronoun. Therefore, on the one hand I am prepared to think that English disjunctive expressions with the nominative pronoun (I, you, he/her, we, you, they) would be the "logical thing". On the other hand, for some reason English disjunctive expressions with the accusative/dative pronoun (me, you, his/her, us, you, them) appeal to me more (because they seem "smoother" somehow). Be it as it may, my conclusion from your replies is:
    English does not have a one and only prescribed form of use for the disjunctive pronoun.
    However, applied to the initial example sentence, I would distinguish the variants as follows by now:

    Question: Who attended the meeting with the headmaster?

    Variant (a), which is considered correct by linguists' opinion/conviction:
    I! It is I! He! It is he! My parents and I! His sister and he!

    Variant (b), which is considered acceptable/correct in colloquial English, and probably the most commonly used form:
    Me! It is me! Him! It is him! My parents and me! His sister and him!

    Variant (c), which is considered not correct (because of inappropriate subject order):
    I and my parents! Me and my parents! He and his sister! Him and his sister!

    By the way, it would be interesting to know how examination boards view this issue?!
     

    anhonestfool

    Member
    USA, Northwest American English
    Robocop,
    It appears to me that the following conclusions are mostly correct:

    Question: Who attended the meeting with the headmaster?

    Variant (a), which is considered correct by linguists' opinion/conviction:
    I! It is I! He! It is he! My parents and I! His sister and he!

    Variant (b), which is considered acceptable/correct in colloquial English, and probably the most commonly used form:
    Me! It is me! Him! It is him! My parents and me! His sister and him!

    Variant (c), which is considered not correct (because of inappropriate subject order):
    I and my parents! Me and my parents! He and his sister! Him and his sister!

    One thing I would change is making the verb tense of the question and the answers match (Who attended the meeting with the headmaster? It was I, It was me, etc.)
    Also, the exclamation point looks a bit out of place.

    In regard to Variant (c):
    I don't think I've ever heard anybody say "I and my parents" or "He and his sister". Both these sentences sound clumsy and unnatural to me.

    However, I've commonly heard people say "Me and my parents" and "Him and his sister". I am fully aware that it is grammatically incorrect, but quite common.

    I hope this is helpful for you.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Variant (a), which is considered correct by linguists' opinion/conviction:
    I! It is I! He! It is he! My parents and I! His sister and he!
    Not all linguists believe English necessarily follows a Latin model. I would not say "linguists" but rather "most prescriptive grammarians" or "those trained in formal writing".

    An English-speaking person who doesn't know or can't correctly use the nominative and accusative/dative as in the Latin model would be at a decided disadvantage in the English-speaking world. That said, and since you are asking about the disjunctive, I have to say that the Latin model clearly does not always apply in all registers.

    I halfway recall seeing a situation in a WR posting where even formal English prohibits using a nominative pronoun per the Latin model. If such a situation is real, I am sure some would say "recast the sentence" rather than to allow the disjunctive construction, and others would find a clear way to delimit the exceptional case and prescribe a disjunctive only for that case.

    I don't have much time right now, but I'll be on the lookout for that exceptional situation.
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    @Anhonestfool: You are absolutely right, there is no need for an exclamation mark and, of course, the tenses of question and answer should agree in general.

    @Forero: I agree, "most prescriptive grammarians" is a more appropriate denomination in this context.

    Also, I am well aware that disjunctive constructions in English are quite dispensable (not so in German!) and can always (?) be avoided.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Another good lengthy thread I see. Time to stick my oar in, although I may be repeating much of what has already been said.
    "My parents and I" is obviously the correct grammatical form, and most people are well aware of this.
    "Me and my parents" is probably the most common spoken form, at least in my part of the world. This is true to such an extent that I find it difficult to say "My parents and I" without it sounding like an affectation.
    I don't mean to say that it is an affectation - some people had correct grammar more effectively drilled into them or weren't heavily exposed to the influence of the "me" form - and those people use the correct form perfectly naturally.
    As an English teacher, I consider it my duty to teach and use the correct form. Socially, some of my friends might look at me a little strangely if I said "my parents and I".
    Since it's probably relevant, I should add that I come from the same county as mally pense.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    Lots of theory here - some of it way over my head - but I can't help feeling that actual usage, which is what this forum is nominally about ("For questions involving English usage"), seems to throw up a strong case for the "Me and my parents" form being as correct as any alternative.

    I have to come back to my previous naive question as to why alternative forms of actual usage cannot be dealt with by having more than one grammatical form that is considered correct, rather than having to relate to a single grammatical form (e.g. that traditionally taught in schools) with the end result that one spoken form then inevitably appears correct and another incorrect.

    I'm sorry, but to me, if a grammatical theory fails to adequately model the most commonly spoken form (at least in certain parts of the world) then the theory itself is incorrect, at least as applied to that spoken form, though it would perhaps be better to say that it is incorrectly or inappropriately applied to that form rather than being incorrect in itself.

    I am sure this argument has been run many times before, but in all of this, it is the continued insistence that millions of people are wrong in the way they speak simply because it does not match some supposedly 'correct' grammatical model which surprises me, especially as it appears from another thread that the futility of seeking singular forms of correctness in regard to pronunciation has long since been recognised and accepted.

    Why then does grammatical form have to comply with a single model which is uniquely considered correct? Why can't we simply say that the ""Me and my parents" spoken form conforms to the XXX grammatical model and the "My parents and I" form conforms to the YYY grammatical model, both of which are correct in their respective areas of usage, be that geographical, social, job interview, academic environment, or whatever.

    Yes, there is a lot on controversy and disagreement over this I/Me issue, but doesn't most of that stem from the insistence that only a single grammatical form can be considered correct?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, there is a lot on controversy and disagreement over this I/Me issue, but doesn't most of that stem from the insistence that only a single grammatical form can be considered correct?
    But Mally,

    First, quite a lot of the posts have stated that different answers will be given by different people.

    Second, surely if there were no standards of speech and writing, there'd be little point in having this forum, which partly exists to help people know what forms are acceptable and correct, as opposed to uneducated and barbarous. The moment you say anything goes in language, you ignore the fact that a lot of people draw important deductions from the way people speak. You may deplore the fact, but you ignore it at your peril, and, as we are concerned here with standards of communication, part of accurate civilized communication is knowing how others are likely to respond to the register and grammatical or ungrammatical structures we employ. Language is an elaborate convention, and the teachers need to pass the conventions onto the learners. Many of the members of the forum are learning English; they need advice about how best to communicate clearly and gracefully, and it's hard for them to do that if we native speakers don't give them an idea of what is correct or not, whether we hold only one or many forms to be correct.

    I seem to remember Panjandrum putting all this very clearly many posts back.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    quite a lot of the posts have stated that different answers will be given by different people
    Yes, but many continue to insist that these people are speaking incorrectly. I don't think that is right.

    surely if there were no standards of speech and writing, there'd be little point in having this forum, which partly exists to help people know what forms are acceptable and correct, as opposed to uneducated and barbarous?
    I suppose it depends on whether one considers "questions involving English usage" to be prescriptive or descriptive. For me, millions of native English speakers using a common form simply cannot be wrong, regardless of how much that contravenes a specific grammatical theory which fails to model their usage. And in terms of usefulness, I suppose it depends, as Panjandrum said, on whether they are seeking conformity to 'received grammar' (my words, not his), or are interested in finding out about actual usage. In any of these scenarios, there's no need to describe any particular usage as incorrect (a trap I myself fell into!). It is perfectly possibly to say that to conform to recieved grammar, one says this, to conform to common usage (in some contexts), one says the other. There's no need to describe either as incorrect.

    I presume the "uneducated and barbarous" is tongue-in-cheek by the way.
     

    mother earth

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    My two cents..... I learned that if you remove one of the subjects, the sentence would still be correct, as in: My parents and I went to...
    My parents went to....I went to....
    She and I went...
    He and I went...
    Me is often used in spoken english on every continent, but it is grammatically incorrect.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Yes, but many continue to insist that these people are speaking incorrectly. I don't think that is right.



    I suppose it depends on whether one considers "questions involving English usage" to be prescriptive or descriptive. For me, millions of native English speakers using a common form simply cannot be wrong, regardless of how much that contravenes a specific grammatical theory which fails to model their usage. And in terms of usefulness, I suppose it depends, as Panjandrum said, on whether they are seeking conformity to 'received grammar' (my words, not his), or are interested in finding out about actual usage. In any of these scenarios, there's no need to describe any particular usage as incorrect (a trap I myself fell into!). It is perfectly possibly to say that to conform to recieved grammar, one says this, to conform to common usage (in some contexts), one says the other. There's no need to describe either as incorrect.

    I presume the "uneducated and barbarous" is tongue-in-cheek by the way.

    I can't speak for TT, but personally I use the terms correct and incorrect in this forum when referring to conformity to received grammar wthout the intention of dismissing the validity of common and colloquial usage. I mean it's correct or incorrect in the eyes of an English exam marker. These terms are considerably more convenient than "conforms to received grammar" and "doesn't conform to received grammar", I don't believe anyone intends to cause offence when they use them and people almost always refer to colloquial/common usage.
    Having said that, your point coincides with that of Thomas Tompion who says "...a lot of people draw important deductions from the way people speak." Perhaps the terms correct and incorrect give the impression that the colloquial forms are completely unacceptable when speaking with natives. For grammatical purists, this colloquial form "me and my parents" is completely unacceptable, but for a large number of the people it's perfectly normal use of the spoken language.
    I agree with TT that it's important to have standards to work from, but the rules are constantly evolving (albeit slowly) in response to changes in usage. One of the joys of the English language is it's evolution and growth through the acceptance of new forms and structures. Like species, languages must adapt in order to survive. Efforts to maintain the "purity" of a language are important but, in my opinion, doomed to failure.
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    Panjandrum mentioned the wide range of inquirers' motivations to turn to this forum, which consequently should be considered when replying. Right he is!

    In the course of this discussion, I have also learnt that discrimination between normative English (prescriptive grammar) and common use English (descriptive grammar) will in many cases be essential to appropriate answers. Having said that, it is obvious to me that inquirers, at the receiving end, should assist in the process by stating explicitly if they are aiming at a prescriptive language information (for example, by saying that they are learning for an exam).

    (Suggestion to the mods!!) I wonder if it were helpful (and practicable) to have a checkbox "Normative English, please" in the post entry form, which you could optionally tick to indicate that the reply should be based on prescriptive English grammar?!
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    [...]
    (Suggestion to the mods!!) I wonder if it were helpful (and practicable) to have a checkbox "Normative English, please" in the post entry form, which you could optionally tick to indicate that the reply should be based on prescriptive English grammar?!
    It's often quite obvious which kind of answer is required. If you look around the forum you should find that many posts explain the register of the response - comments like: OK in casual speech, not normally in writing, only in formal communications, if you're writing this for an exam, prescriptive grammarians would insist that, ... ...
    No matter what kind of answer is appropriate, people like to offer variations and alternatives. Mods, and others, quite often steer a thread back to the register appropriate to the question.
     

    Dandee

    Senior Member
    Argentina, español
    Hello:

    "You and I" or "You and me"

    Wich one is correct or more correct?. Why?. In what situation or context?.

    Thanks in advance.
    Dandee.
     
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