Little Timmy and Me

First of all, I’d like to thank Spanglish Jill for giving me the idea for this post.

We’ve probably all found ourselves in a situation like this:

Little Timmy: Yesterday, John and me went to the beach and…

Heartless Teacher: No, Timmy, it’s John and I!

Little Timmy: Huh?

Heartless Teacher: You don’t say John and me, you say John and I! John and me is for vulgarians only…

Little Timmy: Oh, ok. John and I went to…

It’s one of those golden rules we have drilled into us repeatedly as children that we never forget, like i before e except before c (more on that in the future): never say (insert name) and me.

But, does this rule always hold? The fact that I’m asking should tell you the answer… Continue reading

IT

Where would the English language be without this simple two-letter word? Without it we wouldn’t be able to refer to an object that isn’t clearly male or female for a second time, without repeating the whole word. Like any pronoun it makes speech and writing simpler and more fluid.

But it also has its little quirks. Like when we say:

It’s raining.

What’s raining?

Just, it, you know? It’s raining!

See also it’s cold, it’s quiet, it’s five o’clock etc.

The meaning of these sentences wouldn’t cause much difficulty for any students, beyond absolute beginners. Yet some people still get confused by them because they expect it to refer to something concrete. This is another classic case of confusion caused by thinking about what grammatical rules would seem to demand, as opposed to looking at the practical use of language. It might not seem to make sense to use it when it doesn’t refer to a clear object, yet, every English sentence needs a subject, and impersonal verb phrases don’t have an agent doing the action, so let’s just stick It at the beginning of the sentence and not think too much about it. Continue reading