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One of the joys of the next four years will be not having to cringe in embarrassment every time the president opens his mouth - just the opposite. President-elect Obama speaks very well. It was with slight disappointment, then, that I heard him fumble a fairly easy grammatical choice -- between "me" and "I" -- in his presser yesterday. He said something like, "President Bush has invited Michelle and I to visit the White House..." Hmm.

Since it's a Saturday and the president elect will likely be reading Kos, and since the mistake is so common that at least a few Kossacks probably make it, I'm offering a quick tip that should help. Not going to go into subjects and objects 'cause I'm not strong on grammar myself and would likely screw that up. Just going to pass along a tip my mother gave me that's helped me with the choice for many years.      

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The president elect would never have said, "President Bush has invited I to visit the White House." That's the tip. Whenever you join yourself with another in a sentence in conversation and you have to make that quick choice, you'll have time in your mind to think of what the choice would be if you were speaking only of yourself. So it would be, "President Bush has invited Michelle and me..." Or if you were to say "Michelle and I are going to visit the president..." you'd know "I" was the correct choice because you'd never say "Me am going to visit the president..."

The mistake is usually on the back end of the sentence, though, something like, "Dad played catch with Missy and I." I think when people have to make that fast choice many automatically go to "I" because it just "sounds" or "feels" right. But no one would ever say "Dad played catch with I." It obviously sounds terrible.

If you've muffed this choice for a long time, it may feel strange to use "me" even when it's correct. But after awhile it will feel quite normal and come without even a second's thought. You may even feel a certain smugness about getting it right and having less knowledgeable people think you may be wrong.

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Originally posted to Dave in RI on Sat Nov 08, 2008 at 05:46 AM PST.

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