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In the context of a network issue some people were facing, a colleague asked:

My wifi dropped out and I have to use the network cable. Did that happen to everyone in the office or only me?

A colleague of mine responded with:

Yes, it happened for me and James

I didn't think this sounded right, and feel like it should be written as:

Yes, it happened for James and I

My colleague feels that his sentence composition is correct.

Is it correct to say:

Yes, it happened for me and James

Alternatively, should it be written as:

Yes, it happened to me and James

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  • If you don't believe it is a duplicate, please edit your question to explain how it is different. It's good that you added more context, but if you have a question about "to" and "for" instead of "me" and "I", then you should probably ask it as a new question instead of tacking it on to this one.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 4, 2017 at 22:20

2 Answers 2

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It happened to me and James.

"For" doesn't really sound correct in this case. It would have been right if the phrase was: "It happened for a reason"

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    When I first read the question title, I thought the same. But having read the question, I disagree. I picture it like this: Jim says, "When I tried installing the new device driver, my computer crashed." Bob replies, "Yes, the same thing happened for me." - I believe that "for" makes sense here.
    – rjpond
    Sep 1, 2017 at 7:47
  • @Coreplo I also thought the usage of to instead of for sounds more correct (to me). I also believe that the comment here by @rjpond sounds better with to as well - i.e. Yes, the same thing happened to me.
    – testworks
    Sep 2, 2017 at 8:15
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    Interesting. (I too think that my quote sounds better with "to" if taken out of context, but not when understood in its full context.) Do you find that this quote by Andy Warhol sounds wrong to you? "If something's going to happen for you, it will, you can't make it happen." I think that "happening for you" and "happening to you" are two different things. If you try to do something on the computer and it gives an unexpected response, to me that's primarily an example of something happening for you - although in a sense it could also be something happening to you.
    – rjpond
    Sep 2, 2017 at 8:21
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    If I say, "When I type in 'xyz', the screen goes blank. What happens for you when you try it?" I can't even imagine using "to" in that example.
    – rjpond
    Sep 2, 2017 at 8:23
  • I agree with @rjpond "for" is perfectly idiomatic in this case. "Happen to" occurs more as a fixed phrase and people tend to memorize it, but it doesn't sound right in a lot of situations. Dictionaries should add an entry for "happen for".
    – Eddie Kal
    Jul 20, 2022 at 6:10
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The following are correct:

Yes, it happened for me and James

Yes, it happened for James and me

The following is wrong:

Yes, it happened for James and I

Even native speakers sometimes get this wrong. The "me" form here is more natural and more idiomatic as well as more correct, but speakers sometimes hypercorrect, wrongly assuming that the "I" form is more formal or more correct. They may have a memory of having been corrected previously over their usage of "James and me" as a subject, for example.

Here "James and me" is used as an object, so "me" is correct prescriptively as well as in normal conversational English. Just as we say "it happened to me", we also say "it happened to James and me".

See also Is it "I" or "me" in "Keep Tom and I/me updated"?

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