A Simple Trick for Knowing When to Use ‘and Me’ or ‘and I’
The most valuable lesson a substitute teacher ever taught me
In the past couple weeks, I’ve seen multiple tweets involving confusion about when to use “and me” or “and I” (including some would-be know-it-alls giving incorrect advice). As a bit of a know-it-all myself, this is my excuse to share the best grammar lesson a substitute teacher ever taught me. Much like the trick of using your fingers to do your times nine multiplication table, once you know it you’ll never forget it.
“And I” is so often drilled into children as the correct formulation that we can sometimes forget that it mainly applies when followed by a verb. In many situations, “and me” is actually correct.
There are plenty of grammar books that get into the nuts and bolts of all this. But the easiest way to figure out whether you want “and me” or “and I” is to cover up, cross out, or mentally delete the other name and the word “and” from the sentence, then see if it still makes sense.
For instance, take Sheryl Crow’s iconic lyric:
“They’re nothing like Billy and me.”
Delete “Billy and,” and the sentence still makes sense: “They’re nothing like me.”
By contrast, if she’d sung, “They’re nothing like Billy and I,” that wouldn’t work — “They’re nothing like I” just sounds wrong. (Unless you add “am” to the end of that sentence, but let’s not overcomplicate things.)
So, good job, Sheryl! Let’s play this out a bit more:
- “Billy and I like a good beer buzz early in the morning” → “I like a good beer buzz early in the morning” ✅ Looks good!
- “Billy and me like a good beer buzz early in the morning” → “Me like a good beer buzz early in the morning” ❌ Big nope!
Handy, isn’t it?
A couple simpler examples:
- She chose Lily and I → She chose I ❌
- She chose Lily and me → She chose me ✅
- Lily and I went to the store → I went to the store ✅
- Lily and me went to the store → Me went to the store ❌
For more on “I” versus “me,” I recommend Patricia T. O’Conner’s excellent book Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English.