I saw this comment by snailplane (emphasis added):

Even when both I and me can be used, I wouldn't call them interchangeable—there's often a difference of register.

When, if ever, is it equally correct to use I or me in a sentence? I cannot think of any examples. I understand there will most likely still be semantic differences between the objective and subjective even if both are grammatically valid; if there are, please explain the semantics as well as the grammar.

My searches on this topic yield only information about the basic differences between I and me, which I already understand.

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    Let us go then, you and me, while the evening is spread out against a tree... A little more here.
    – J.R.
    Aug 21, 2014 at 16:38
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    Just between you and I, there are pages 459-61 in the 2002 reference grammar CGEL, "Constructions where nominative and accusative are in alternation". E.g. "Nobody but she/her can do it."
    – F.E.
    Aug 21, 2014 at 18:55
  • I think this use of "I" where "me" is actually the form required, is the result of people mistakenly believing that "and I" is always correct; they don't want to sound uneducated: Our daughter came along for the ride with my wife and I. The disease of prescriptive grammar.
    – TimR
    Sep 16, 2014 at 21:10

2 Answers 2


While both can be grammatically valid in a sentence, I think when using "I" to refer to yourself, you refer to your whole character, your self-image, your identity. Using "me" is closer to "this person here"; it is less ... hm, self-aware, if you will. It distinguishes you from others, but not much more.

As an example, I would like to quote a scene from - yes - Star Trek, where a high-ranking, adorned and much respected embassador makes the official introduction of his wife with the words

May I present she who is my wife, (name).

Of course, this is a little more elaborate than just replacing "me" with "I", but it goes into the same direction.

PerryW's "It is I" and "It is me" is a very good example. They both say the same thing, identifying the speaker in response to a question. If that question was, say,

"Who threw that tomato at the speaker?",

they are both valid to identify you as the thrower. However, you would only proclaim "It was I who threw the tomato!" if you are already halfway onto the stage, with a speech of your own explaining your own honest and heartfelt reasons for this offensive act. There is a lot of pathos in saying "It is/was I".

If, however, like most people and tomato-throwers, you just want to make the speaker shut up and leave, a simple "That was me alright!" will do. Or if you immediately regret having thrown it but can't steal away, you may just mumble "me", but not "I".

The situation is the same in the beginning, the message is the same, but using "I" instead of "me" will change how people perceive your answer. In any case, the nominative "I" (or "we"/"she") is very rarely used.

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    Please elaborate on the conditions when both pronouns are equally valid, as that is the main thrust of the question. Sep 21, 2014 at 0:49
  • Edited. I'm not a native speaker, and I learned about the difference between the two by reading The Lord of the Rings, where such formal and solemn speech is often used, and other novels. Using the nominative is somewhat archaic, so fictional novels are a place to start.
    – Sir Jane
    Sep 22, 2014 at 10:10

I'll put up an old chestnut, one that is bound to cause argument :)

'It is I' and 'It is me'

Yes, I know about nominatives and linking verbs, but this is clearly a usage that is undergoing change.

As evidence I offer Patricia O'Connor in Woe is I She describes 'It is I' as being almost extinct and says that 'It is me' is now the dominant form.

At the moment, despite the howls of protest from some purists, it seems to be more a question of style than one of 'Thou Shalt'

  • FWIW I'm pretty sure "It's me" is the dominant form, at least around my way (the UK). Not that I think that's reason for a downvote. Sep 18, 2014 at 3:47
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    This doesn't answer the question. When are they both valid and why? What are the semantic differences? You don't address this. Sep 21, 2014 at 0:51

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