Me Hates That!

Okay, one more grammar-related post and then I'm done for the season…

I suppose I cannot hammer my two teenage daughters too heavily in the face of what I just read. I am continually correcting Erica and Jamie for sentences along the lines of "Me and Nicole want to go to the mall," because I would like to set some minimum standard of speech for the two of them. I don't get on their case for the verbal twitch that is responsible for every third word being "like," and I don't go overboard and insist that they respond with "It is I," to every query of "who's there." I would just like them not to sound like morons when referring to themselves.

But they seem to be in pretty heady company these days. Here was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in a major opinion piece in Newsweek:

"Considerations such as these induced Sam Nunn, William Perry, George Schultz and I to publish recommendations…"

Oy vey.

We all have our pet peeves in life, and I readily admit to this one being mine. It is particuarly sad because it is so easy to fix: Remove everyone else from the equation and it immediately becomes obvious which form of the pronoun to use. Erica would never say "Me wants to go to the mall." Mr. Kissinger probably would not have written "Considerations such as these induced I to publish…" You can almost always figure out which pronoun to use if you formulate the sentence without any other subjects or objects.

The more egregious misuse — the one that really is akin to fingernails across the chalkboard for me — is the butchering of "myself." Here is our 44th president speaking about a meeting he had with his predecessor:

"…there was a substantive conversation between the President and myself."

I suspect this is often used to soften the landing for someone who cannot deterine whether to use I or me, but to my ears it sounds worse. "Myself" is a reflective pronoun (I'm not sure that is actually a grammatical term, but it helps in understanding it)—it must reflect back to the person using it. You can't return the book to myself, forward the email to myself, or speak with myself. There is only one person who can have a conversation with myself and that is me…er, I.

In presentation content, the two errors I see most often are:

  • Lose being spelled with two Os
  • And the possessive "its" being given an apostrophe

Do you have a pet grammar peeve? Share the pain…

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