The other day, because I was not paying attention, a blog post found it’s way into your email box with my biggest grammatical pet peeve of all time, smack dab in the middle of it. Ouch, mortified begins to describe how I felt when I saw it. If it were possible to suck the offending post back, you can bet your bottom dollar I would have.
The post was one of Hagar’s. Tempting as it is to say, he posted it without showing it to me, you know that’s not true. He wouldn’t do such a thing. Besides, I can’t very well go around blaming the dog, if I didn’t check his grammar, now can I? That would be a variation on the dog ate my homework. I would offend Hagar if I tried to blame him. He is very selective about what he chooses to eat!
I don’t pretend to be a grammarian. Consequently, I’m sure you have all have seen errors in my grammar and spelling. Most of the grammar I know, I picked up by having the good fortune of growing up in an educated household, alas poor Hagar. I don’t remember grammar in school except in foreign languages. The attempt may have been made to teach me. Like lots of things in school, for me, it went in one ear and out the other.
Judging from how common this grammar error is, I suspect only a handful of readers shared my visceral reaction. Why am I so jumped up? While I understand that in the world of things to get your knickers in a knot about this is pretty, pretty low on the scale, but if I can stop one speaker or writer of the English language from committing this egregious grammatical error my self-inflicted shame will not have been in vain.
The error in question is the improper use of the personal case and the objective case. In other words using I when you should use me, and vice versa. The problem occurs when the speaker is referring to themselves and another. The fix is easy. It’s just a little test that takes seconds. Here it is by example: Jane and I went out. Take Jane out of the sentence. I went out. It works. Sometimes one hears Jane and me went out. Again, ax Jane. Me went out. WRONG! It even sounds wrong to the ear.
Finally moving on to the big time offender: She went to see Jane and I. Since now we know how the test works, we take Jane out. She went to see I. NO!!. She went to see Jane and me. Exit Jane and then we say: She went to see me. YES!
How easy is that? You might be asking if it’s so easy how did I make that mistake? My answer: lack of attention. Trying to do too many things at the same time. The test only works when you apply it. When I find a test for inattention, I’ll be sure to share it.