Grammar Police: I Object!

I admit it. I am a grammar nerd, and I am silently suffering, alone perhaps.

The Washington Post style guide’s recent acceptance of “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun may be a sign of things to come. And it’s not pretty. But more on that another time.

[UPDATE 4/14/2024: In re-reading the above, I realize that it seems my objection to “they/them” is an objection to addressing gender-neutral or non-binary pronoun needs. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As the pronoun discussion has evolved over the years, I’m all for language that is gender-neutral. Where I think “they/them” is problematic is that “they/them” used as singular can be confused with the plural. That said, I’m eager to see where this goes over the years. We clearly need to do better.]

So let me tackle the biggest offender.

The misuse of the first person subjective form (“I”) as the object of a sentence is making me crazy. It is rampant. Some of the best written movies and TV shows misuse “I” constantly. The only time I have recently seen the correct use of the first person form as an object (“me”) was in a re-run (okay — streaming) episode of “Sex and the City.” From Season 5.  Fourteen years ago!

Okay, I’m taking a breath and counting to ten.

A statement like “It doesn’t matter to Slim and I”* makes me cringe, and not because his friend calls himself “Slim.” People use the subjective form of the first person as an object because they think it sounds more eloquent, fancier. But is it absolutely incorrect. Follow me here:

“It doesn’t matter to Slim and I” sounds kinda sorta correct, right? But try removing “Slim” from the sentence.

“It doesn’t matter to I.” Sounds totally wrong, right? “It doesn’t matter to me” is correct, and so is, “It doesn’t matter to Slim and me.” It is irrelevant how many people are part of the object, the first person (or third, “him,” “her”) will always be in the objective form (“me”). “It drives Sally, Omar, Bill, Ari, Bethany, and me crazy when objective and subjective forms are used interchangeably.”


  • “The film deeply affected Sasha and I.” (incorrect) –> “The film deeply affected Sasha and me.” (correct)
  • If you are using the first person as the subject of the sentence, then “I” is correct. To wit: “Sasha and I were deeply affected by the film.”
  • I (subject) do something to me (object).
  • You (subject) do something to me (object).
  • I (subject) am affected by the thing (object).
  • You (subject) give cash to him (object) and me (object).
  • He (subject) and I (subject) give cash to you (object) and her (object).

So, the next time someone misuses the subjective form and you hear a scream from the back of the room, please know that it was me.

*From a current popular streaming series.

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