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...me or Jake... OR ...Jake or me...?
Grammar debate in the office - HELP!
Topic Rating: +2 (2 votes) 
2014/02/10
11:21am
brittanyvojak
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Is it correct to say “Do not hesitate to contact me or Jake if you have any questions,” or should it be “Do not hesitate to contact Jake or me if you have any questions,” or are both acceptable, or are both wrong?

2014/02/10
1:43pm
Dick
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I have always been taught that, except in unusual circumstances, someone else’s name goes before I or me when used in conjunction.  The only reason I have ever been given is that it is polite.  So you have made me wonder if that really is the only reason.  Does grammar have nothing to do with this?  If I chose to be impolite may I put I or me first?  If you did not consider manners, it would be technically correct to put either first.

2014/02/10
2:57pm
Glenn
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Either one is grammatical. Consider a situation in which you prefer that the contact be to you, but you allow for Jake. In that case you could nuance by putting “me” first.

I was always taught that the polite order for such lists is second person(s) first; third person(s) second; first person(s) last.

You, Chris, Pat and we will ride in one car.

You and Fran make a lovely couple.

Kelly and I may decide to attend.

You three and I can make the finsl foursome.

This is merely the custom I was taught, and has nothing to do with grammar.

2014/02/10
11:11pm
RobertB
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Sometimes  by practicing good manners or good grammar, you risk sounding rigid or snobbish or nerdy, any kinds of points-off.  

Not in this case though-  I believe putting 1st person last, in language and otherwise, is still widely a socially observed rule;  any points-off is when you don’t do it.

It could suggest office command chain though, which depends on the context. Better watch if it might sound wrong.

2014/02/12
2:49pm
fattogatto
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RobertB said
Sometimes  by practicing good manners or good grammar, you risk sounding rigid or snobbish or nerdy, any kinds of points-off.  

I have to disagree.  There should never be a time when one is embarrassed to have good manners or speak correctly.  This is a problem we have passed on to our children and it surfaces in the form of laziness.

 

2014/02/12
4:00pm
RobertB
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Now here’s the key word – ‘should.’

I am on your side on this, if that means acting as if that ‘should’ means actuality.  And, so far as I know, that makes only 2 against the world. 

2014/02/13
6:20am
fattogatto
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But, it’s a valiant effort!

2014/02/13
12:22pm
therapistjohn
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The correct way is “Jake or I” using me when talking about multiple people has never been correct. 

2014/02/14
12:07pm
Glenn
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therapistjohn said

The correct way is “Jake or I” using me when talking about multiple people has never been correct. 

While what you suggest is very common, it is in fact a common hypercorrection. Though often seen and heard, it is a grammatical mistake to use “I” in such lists except as the subject of the verb. If you would use “me” when it stands alone, you should use “me” in conjuctions or disjunctions.

In this case “me” is correct.

2014/02/15
6:32am
RobertB
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I guess ( but weakly ) from all above that hypercorrection happens only where  ‘or’ or ‘and’   is present.  But if that’s true, why?

(Do I get “hypercorrection” right –   push-back against pervasive wrongs, but with such zeal that itself becomes misguided , and itself wrong?)

Please contact me  — Safely correct.

Please contact Jake or me  — Object ‘me’  again good, but vulnerable to being hypercorrected to ‘I.’

 

Here’s a possible answer to why hypercorrection only happens with “and/or” :  

First, ” and,”  “or ” were perceived as words that require an object (me).

Then corrections were made with “I” to account for where a subject is required.

Then, because “I” came to  sound so right, why not put “I” everywhere there is “and/or” ?  Hence the hypercorrection.

There, mystery solved.

2014/02/25
7:46am
burntsox
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Brittany – I think the convention, born of little more than politeness, is as Glenn writes in comment No. 3: Jake and him and me.

RobertB, how about this reconstruction:

Starting out with “Please contact Jake,” you have a complete thought, and no problem at all (at least in English).

But then you add onto that with “… and” and now it seems like you’re starting a new thought, and obviously the new thought starts with “I.”

And you end up with “Please contact Jake and I.”

Here’s the kicker–if you constructed it the other way, you’d never say “Please contact I and Jake” because you’d never begin with “Please contact I,” which even the hypercorrect have to concede is wrong.

I’m just making up as I go along.

2014/02/25
1:23pm
Glenn
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Off on a related tangent, I must share a moment from the recent (USA) airing of Downton Abbey. The Dowager Countess of Grantham tells the Earl of Grantham about a book someone had. He asks her what book it was. Her reply was something on this order: “I don’t know, but I can tell you from our train ride together that she considered it much more interesting than me.”

Well, I love the wit, the syntax, and the unambiguously correct use of me. The alternative — “I don’t know, but I can tell you from our train ride together that she considered it much more interesting than I.” — would have an entirely different meaning altogether.

So, now I’m outed as a Downton Abbey watcher. I tend to focus on the language. I blame this passtime on my wife entirely. She finds it much more interesting than I, but not, I hope, more interesting than me.

2014/02/25
3:20pm
New River, AZ, USA
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An excellent example, Glenn, of where meaning trumps politeness and avoids ambiguity. Well said.

Never seen Downton Abbey. But my wife watches a lot of cooking shows. Thus do I. Again, off on a related tangent, I’ve heard the hosts of those shows often refer to a recipe component as a “bitterant.” I found that strange, since components for other tastes don’t use that “ant” suffix. There are “sweeteners,” but not “sweetants.” Components for the flavor “sour” are often described as “acidifiers,” but not “sourants.” Salt is just salt, and not “saltant” (obviously because NaCl is just NaCL), whatever its physical form. And umami is just “umami,” though in a stretch, I suppose it could be called a “glutamatant.”

I’m not a cook by a long shot, so I don’t presume to second-guess their jargon. But I find the usage (and inconsistency) curious. Any insights, especially from forum members who are cooks, would be appreciated. My wife has no idea.

2014/06/06
1:35am
burntsox
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therapistjohn said

The correct way is “Jake or I” using me when talking about multiple people has never been correct. 

TherapistJohn, I don’t mean this in a mean way, but this isn’t right.

But your explanation gives me a new idea where it comes from. I’d always thought it was a hypercorrection, based on the idea that “I” sounds more correct than “me.” I’d never heard a “rule” that you don’t use “me” when talking about more than one person. That’s an interesting back-justification, wrong, but interesting.

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