A Word, Please: If you’re an object in a sentence, use ‘me’

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Grammar expert June Casagrande delves into whether to choose “me” or “I” when the pronoun is an object.
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“People like you and I feel betrayed.”

See anything wrong with that sentence? Most people probably don’t, but there is a problem with it and, for me, the problem is eye-opening.

Here’s the issue: If you want to be as proper and correct as possible, that “I” should be “me.” And for all the years I’ve spent attuned to the finer points of choosing “me” over “I,” I don’t believe I ever considered this situation until I came across this sentence recently in an article I was reading.

I know what you grammar-savvy types are thinking: “I” is a subject here. It’s performing the verb “feel.” And you’re right that “I feel betrayed” is normally the correct choice over “me feel betrayed.” The “you” doesn’t change that. It’s “you and I feel betrayed,” not “you and me feel betrayed.”


But there’s more going on in this sentence than meets the eye. And to see why “me” is the better choice here, it’s best to start with a review of subject and object pronouns.

When a pronoun is performing the action in a verb, it’s a subject. The personal pronouns in subject form are: I, you, he, she, it, we and they.

When a pronoun is receiving the action of a verb, it’s an object. The personal pronouns in object form are: me, you, him, her, it, us and them.

Grammar expert June Casagrande notes that word pairs that sound alike can leave English users reaching for which one to say or write.

May 22, 2023

You’re probably already a master of subject and object pronouns in most situations. You wouldn’t say, “Us watched a movie,” using the object form. You’d say, “We watched a movie,” using the subject form, because that’s who’s doing the watching. That’s why “I feel betrayed” is normally correct and “Me feel betrayed” is not.

But our sentence, “People like you and I feel betrayed,” is a trap. “I” looks like a subject. But it’s not. The real subject of this sentence is “people”: “people feel betrayed.” The pronouns come right before the verb — a position that usually indicates the subject of a verb. But our pronouns are not the subject of the verb. They’re objects of the preposition “like.” And an object of a preposition takes an object form, “like me,” instead of a subject form, “like I.”

Not convinced? Try our original sentence without “you and”: “People like I feel betrayed” is obviously the wrong choice. Clearly, it should be “People like me feel betrayed.”

When you add another person plus “and” to a sentence, it’s harder to pick the right pronoun form. For example, no one would say, “Thank you for meeting with I,” but they often say stuff like “Thank you for meeting with Sarah and I.” No one would say “between we,” but they often say “between you and I,” which is as wrong as “we” because both “we” and “I” are subject pronouns incorrectly used as objects of the preposition “between.”

Technically, it’s not wrong to use “I” in these cases. Usages like “between you and I” are considered idiomatic, which makes them acceptable. The problem with using “I” in an object position is that, when people do this, it’s often because they’re trying to be as proper as possible. Teachers and parents pounded it into our heads that we should say, “Steve and I are going to the park” instead of “Steve and me are going to the park,” which is true. But that doesn’t mean that “I” is always more proper.

When we use “I” in “people like you and I” or “with you and I” or “between you and I,” it’s usually because we’re trying to be as grammatically correct as possible and, unfortunately, revealing that we don’t know how. In most cases, if you try the sentence without the other person, you reveal whether “I” or “me” is correct, as in: people like me feel betrayed.

June Casagrande is the author of “The Joy of Syntax: A Simple Guide to All the Grammar You Know You Should Know.” She can be reached at