“You and I” vs. “You and Me”: How to Master Pronoun Cases

This page may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission on purchases made through those links at no extra cost to you. See my affiliate disclosure for more information.

“You and I” vs. “You and me”: How to Master Pronoun Cases

One common mistake that even native English speakers make is using the phrase “you and I” instead of “you and me,” or vice versa.

Many people understand that “you and me” at the beginning of a sentence is incorrect, such as in the sentence “You and me walked the dog.” The correct way to say this would be “You and I walked the dog.”

But sometimes people overcorrect and change any instance of “you and me” to “you and I.”

A common example of this overcorrection is the phrase “between you and I,” which is used commonly enough that it’s harder to recognize as an error.

The word “between” is a preposition, making “you and I” the object of a preposition, so they should both be in the objective case. The correct way to say this would be “between you and me.”

It becomes much easier to recognize the error if you change the pronouns, replacing “you and I” with “we.” The phrase becomes “between we,” which you will immediately know to change to “between us.”



Identify the subject and object

In the sentence “You and I walked the dog,” both “you” and “I” are the subjects of the sentence and therefore they are in the nominative case. The object of the sentence is the dog.

In the sentence “They gave the dog to you and me,” both “you” and “me” are in the objective case because they are the objects of the preposition “to.”

The subject of this sentence is now “they,” and the direct object is still the dog.

The rules for “you and I” apply in the same way to any other pronouns. Because “he” is nominative and “him” is objective, “he and I” is always the subject while “him and me” is the object.

“He and me” is always wrong because “he” is always a subject and “me” is always an object. Two pronouns linked by the word “and” have the same function in the sentence and therefore must be in the same case. “Him and I” is likewise incorrect because “him” is objective while “I” is nominative.

Use your intuition

If you are a native English speaker and are unsure of the correct form of a pronoun, you can probably figure it out intuitively because of your fluency with the language.

Confusion is most common when there are two pronouns, such as “you and I.” One trick to figure out which form to use is to remove one of the pronouns from the sentence.

In the sentence “They gave the dog to you and I,” do this by removing “you.” Did they give the dog to “I” or did they give him to “me”? If you are fluent in English, it is probably obvious that “me” is the correct form.

You can also replace one or more of the pronouns with a completely different pronoun such as we/us or she/her. The sentence “They gave the dog to us” clearly sounds better than “They gave the dog to we.”

Learning grammar rules and terminology can be extremely helpful in challenging areas like this one where it’s common to hear words used the wrong way.

But if you’re a native speaker of English, you don’t necessarily need to know what cases are in order to use pronouns correctly. You can often figure out the right answer by critically thinking about what sounds right and going with your intuition.

Of course, the best approach is to learn the grammar rules and also check them against your intuitive understanding of the language. This will help you ensure that you’re using words correctly while knowing when you need to look something up.

The Grammar Side of Things: Inflection

When a word’s form changes to reflect distinctions in meaning, this is called inflection.

Conjugation is a type of inflection that you are probably familiar with. Bryan Garner in The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation defines conjugation as “A change in the form of a verb to indicate tense, voice, mood, number, or person.” 1

By looking at how a verb is conjugated, you learn information such as who is doing the action and when it takes place. For example, the word “walk” in the present tense is conjugated to “walked” when it indicates an action that happened in the past.

While inflection of verbs is called conjugation, inflection of nouns is called declension.


To most native English speakers, declension is a less familiar concept than conjugation.

Garner defines declension as “The change in form of a noun or pronoun to show case, number, or gender.” 2

In the English language, nouns have different forms to indicate their number (whether they are singular or plural). Often this is done by adding “-s” to the singular form.

Most English nouns don’t have a gender, so this property isn’t as important to the subject of declension.

The other property that Garner lists in his definition of declension is case.


If you have never studied a highly inflected language, you may not be familiar with cases.

Cases tell us how a noun fits into the sentence and are the reason why some languages are much more flexible than English about word order.

English is what is called an analytic language, meaning that it relies on function words (like prepositions and other connectives) as well as word order to convey much of the meaning in a sentence. It is considered a weakly inflected language.

This is in contrast to a synthetic language like Latin that depends more on inflection to indicate a word’s relationship to the rest of the sentence.

Latin, German, and Russian are all examples of highly inflected languages that have a more complex case system than English.

In Latin you can tell generally how a word functions in a sentence just from looking at that single word. In English you normally have to look at each word in the context of the sentence and pay more attention to things like word order and sentence structure.

Often each case is represented by a suffix that is added to the end of a noun, but some words are irregular and have a completely different form for each case.

Old English vs. Modern English Cases

Old English, the form of our language that existed from approximately 450 to 1100 A.D., was a highly inflected language. But, as Garner tells us, English had already lost the majority of its inflected forms by the time it became Middle English.3

Cases aren’t completely gone from modern English. Most of our words have the same form regardless of how they function in the sentence, but pronouns are a small subcategory of words that do still have cases.

There are three English cases that have survived to the present: the nominative (or subjective) case, the objective (or accusative) case, and the genitive (or possessive) case.

The nominative pronouns include I, we, you, he, she, it, and they. The Objectives include me, us, you, him, her, it, and them. And the genitives include my, our, your, his her, its, and their.

Of the three cases, the two that people tend to use incorrectly are the nominative and objective forms. If you have ever struggled with whether to say “you and I” or “you and me,” understanding these two cases will help you consistently use the correct pronouns.

The nominative case for the subject

The nominative case is used for nouns that function as the subject of their sentence. The subject of the sentence is the person or thing that is doing the action of an active verb or having the action of a passive verb done to it.

In a highly inflected language, all nouns that function as the subject of their sentences must be in the nominative case. In English, we only have to worry about this for pronouns.

The pronouns I, we, you, he, she, it, they, and who are all nominatives. This means that they always stand in for the sentence’s subject.

For example, in the sentence “I walked the dog,” the nominative form is used because “I” is the subject.

Contrast this with “Me walked the dog,” which will immediately sound wrong to native English speakers. “Me” is not the nominative form and thus cannot be used as the subject of the sentence.

Even if you have never heard of cases, you still intuitively know that certain pronouns sound wrong when used in certain ways.

The objective case for the direct object

The objective case is used for nouns that function as the direct object of their sentence. This is generally the person or thing being acted upon by the verb.

In the sentence “I walked the dog,” the dog is functioning as the direct object.

The pronouns me, us, you, him, her, it, them, and whom are all in the objective case. Notice that “you” and “it” have the same form in the objective case as in the nominative.

If we replace the dog with a third person pronoun, the sentence changes to “I walked him.”

The sentence “I walked he” sounds just as wrong as “me walked the dog” because both use a case that doesn’t match the pronoun’s function in the sentence.

The objective case with prepositions

The objective case is also used for nouns that are the object of a preposition. This means they are used with prepositions or other connectives to modify a certain element of the sentence.

In the sentence “I walked with the dog,” the dog is no longer the direct object, but it is still object of a preposition.

If we replace “the dog” with a pronoun, we get “I walked with him.” Like in the previous example, “I walked with he” sounds off because a pronoun in the nominative case cannot be used as the object of a preposition.

If you found this helpful, check out my article on the 5 properties of verbs to continue expanding your grammar knowledge.


  1. Bryan A. Garner, The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 421.
  2. Bryan A. Garner, The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 425.
  3. Bryan A. Garner, The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 160.
"Personal pronouns: how to get them right"
Clara Carlson-Kirigin

Clara Carlson-Kirigin

I’m Clara, the editor behind Prometheus Editorial. I work with fantasy and romance authors who want to invest in professional editing to help their novels succeed. I love teaching people how to harness the power of language, find their voice, and reach their target readership.

You May Also Like…

Join My Newsletter!

Would you like tips on improving your writing and storytelling, finding the right editor for your novel, and successfully navigating the publishing process? Join my email list and you'll start getting my expert advice and insider tips straight to your inbox.

You can unsubscribe at any time. See my Privacy Policy.

Check your email to confirm your subscription!

Share This