My wife and I or my wife and me?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by masterfile, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. masterfile New Member

    What is the correct way to say/write: My wife and I or my wife and me?

    I know me and my wife is incorrect, but what about my wife and me?
  2. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    You need to give full context to be sure of a correct answer. However - there's a fairly easy rule of thumb here. If you would normally say "I" then use "my wife and I" and if you would normally say "me" it's "my wife and me".

    So -

    I went to the shops > my wife and I went to the shops.
    Who did he see? Me! > Who did he see? My wife and me!
    He told me > He told my wife and me.

  3. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    For me the answer is simple and straightforward.

    "The man shouted at me" :tick: --- "The man shouted at my wife and me" :tick:
    "The man shouted at I" :cross:---- "The man shouted at my wife and I" :cross:

    "I shouted at the man" :tick:--- "My wife and I shouted at the man" :tick:
    "Me shouted at the man" :cross:--- "My wife and me shouted at the man" :cross:

    If you can remove "my wife and" and it still makes sense then you have the grammar riight.
  4. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    Note: I see that timepac and I have given very similar explanations. If you need more help from timepac and me please ask. ;)
  5. masterfile New Member

    Thank you, from, me and the wife. ;)
  6. Always put yourself second.
  7. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    English is an unusual language in that its native speakers do not know, or disagree on, what form of the first person singular pronoun belongs in a given sentence.

    In fact there are at least two competing "rules", the one already expressed here and another that seems more natural, at least for speech.

    We might say "My wife and I are ready whenever you are" or "Me and my wife are ready whenever you are", but we would never start a sentence with "I are ready" or "Me are ready."

    The reason is that part of a compound subject is not by itself the subject, and the verb agrees with the whole subject, not with only part of the subject. Or, in other words, a partial subject does not have to "agree" with the verb.

    But a personal pronoun that is part of a compound subject is always stressed, and stressed "I" seems awkward to most native English speakers. Stress is also why we tend to prefer "It's me" to "It's I." (It is not that some people think what comes after is is some sort of "object".)

    On top of this, a lot of people remember being scolded by a prescriptive grammar teacher for saying things like "my wife and me" instead of "my wife and I", and this has been going on for several generations. In fact, the two "rules" have been around for centuries.

    For this reason, there are now many families in which the more natural "my wife and me" has been displaced by "my wife and I", even when it breaks both "rules" (the "subject pronoun for subject, object pronoun for object" rule, and the "stressed pronoun 'I' sounds awkward" rule).

    The "rule" to always put yourself last has also been around a long time but never strictly followed. However, it contributes to the "fossilization" of phrases such as "my wife and I", which adds to the temptation to break both of the "rules" I have mentioned.

    Other languages don't have this problem. French uses special forms for stressed pronouns as a strict rule, many of the subject and object pronouns having a "mute" vowel, which cannot be stressed. Spanish and German subject pronouns can all be stressed and both Spanish and German follow the "subject pronoun for subject, object pronoun for object" rule (except for the Spanish equivalent of "between you and I"). Both Spanish and German use the equivalent of "It am I" where English and French have "It is me" or its contraction. Only English allows "It is I."
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015

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