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I have recently been considering the correct use of "I" and "Me" in this particular case; Someone posted a picture of themselves, standing next to a celebrity, on a social media site, with the caption "[Celebrity name] and I". As the poster is a friend I was about to correct this to "[Celebrity name] and Me", but the more I thought about it the less certain I became.

I am usually good with "I" and "Me" and I understand how to use the handy rule of thumb to remove the "other person" to see if the sentence still makes sense. But in this case, there isn't much of a sentence to remove. However removing the reference to the other person would leave the caption as "I", which seems wholly wrong to me. But then I remembered that there is a style of speech where a person can refer to themselves this way- "'Tis I Sir!"...

So realising I needed to understand more about the use of the personal pronoun, and having no prior education is the finer detail of the English language from a grammatical rules perspective (that I can remember!) I went looking.

I found out about the Subjective and Objective case that defines this use and tried to apply that knowledge to the problem. However given the original caption I couldn't figure out whether the personal pronoun is the subject or object. I imagined the caption expanded into two sentences:

  • "This is a picture of [Celebrity name] and me"
  • "[Celebrity name] and I are in this picture"

How should I correctly parse "[Celebrity name] and I" to determine whether the personal pronoun is the subject or object, and whether, strictly speaking, "I" is allowed due to the older speech style or not?

Use of "I" here seems like a hypercorrection to me, but am I right or am I missing some subtle rule given the brevity of the sentence?

  • Since it's a caption, a fragment, not a sentence, there is only an inferred predicate, and people may infer differently. "Joe and I {have fun at the county fair}." versus "{This picture shows} Joe and me at the county fair". – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 20 '16 at 13:25
  • @TRomano Shouldn't that be an answer? – Marv Mills May 20 '16 at 13:33
  • I think it should. Anyway, I would understand the caption as an answer to “Who's that on the picture?” - “[It/This is ]John and I.” and that would be the correct use of “I”, since it's in the nominative case. – userr2684291 May 20 '16 at 14:34
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When looking at a photo, we usually point to ourselves and say

This is me.

So it's natural to take the the caption as Celebrity Name and me.

Thus, with This is me we have me being used in the so-called nominative case. Another example is the answer It's me to the question Who is it?

See the Merriam Webster video 'It is I' vs 'It's me'? and ELU's Which one is correct to say: "It's me" or "It's I"?.

See also this great answer by nohat on ELU about the specific use you are talking about: using me in such conjoined phrases as Celebrity Name and me, including subject phrases.

Forget about trying to pin English down to some rule that says speakers must always use I for the nominative and me for the objective. This is imposing the Latin case system on modern English, and it does not correctly describe the grammar of today's English.

This is me and It's me are grammatical in today's English. People who say it must be It's I are demanding that English speakers use rules for an entirely different language (Latin). That's weird, but unfortunately a couple hundred years ago a bunch of grammarians started doing this.

  • Great answer, thanks, and nohat's on ELU was great too. I didn't even bother looking on ELU as it's an ELL question really... I should have known better! :) – Marv Mills May 21 '16 at 17:31
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As it's a caption and not a complete sentence, there's no way to definitively say whether it's a subject or an object. So short answer, I think, is, Either is valid.

For what it's worth, in practice, I think most people would label a picture of just themselves as, "Me" and not "I". So by extension, "Joe Stalin and Me" would likely be preferred to "Joe Stalin and I".

But then, people frequently get the predicate nominative wrong. That is, if someone asks, "Who is that in the picture?", the grammatically correct response is, "It is I", but most people would say, "It's me."

(And I presume I'll now get a bunch of rebuttals explaining why "It's me" is correct.)

  • I'm not going to rebut you or downvote this answer–even though you are imposing rules of an entirely different language unto English. – Alan Carmack May 20 '16 at 18:04

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