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How to Use Me VS I Correctly

It might seem too simple to get it wrong, but using ‘Me’ and ‘I’ incorrectly is apparent among Malaysians. This is because ‘Me’ and ‘I’ have the same meaning so most Malaysians assume that both words are used in the same manner.

First and foremost, ‘Me’ is used when referring yourself as an Object, while ‘I’ is used when referring to yourself as a Subject. That means, ‘Me’ is used when something happens upon you and ‘I’ is used when something happens to you. ‘Me’ is used as an Object after a verb, after a preposition, while ‘I’ is used as a Subject in a sentence where ‘I’ is usually placed before the verb, before the preposition.

Let’s get into some examples.

Example 1 ‘Me’ vs ‘I’.

Why did I let her do that to me?

Notice the usage of ‘I’ as a Subject and ‘Me’ as an Object in that sentence? There in that sentence, you referred yourself as ‘I’ and referred to the victim (yourself too) as ‘Me’.

The Bahasa Melayu translation of the above sentence would be:

Mengapalah saya biarkan dia buat begitu kepada diri saya?

Notice that ‘Me’ means diri saya here, and not just saya? This is not to be confused with ‘Myself’ which means ‘sendiri’.

Example 2 ‘Me’ vs ‘I’.

My mother gave me a present and I was happy.

In the above sentence, ‘Me’ is used as an Object that received the present, while ‘I’ was used as a Subject that expressed happiness.

The Bahasa Melayu translation of the above sentence would be:

Ibu saya menghadiahi saya dan saya berasa seronok.

Notice that ‘Me’ in this sentence is encapsulated together as ‘gave me’ to mean menghadiahi saya. This is also applies if the translation was ‘memberikan saya hadiah‘ as ‘Me’ in such translation is encapsulated together in ‘memberikan saya‘.

Example 3 ‘Me’ vs ‘I’.

I wish I can be me.

In the sentence above, ‘I’ is the Subject expressing the thought and ‘Me’ is treated as an Object the ‘I’ wants to be. (Yes, I know at this point many of you will be asking, “What about using ‘Myself’ in that sentence? Hold on, we will have a separate post just for the use of Me vs Myself, okay?)

The Bahasa Melayu translation of the above sentence would be:

Saya ingin menjadi diri saya.

Notice that it becomes clearer by this point that ‘I’ means ‘Saya‘ and ‘Me’ means ‘diri saya‘.

So now I will present a list of common errors when using ‘Me’ and ‘I’ among Malaysians.

  1. You can give it to I and I will pass to her.
  2. Ask her to check with I before leaving.
  3. A voucher was presented to him and I.
  4. You and me will enjoy this vacation.
  5. Let I do it for you.

In the first and second sentences, it is obvious that ‘Me’ should be used in place of ‘I’ where ‘I’ was mistakenly used as an Object. This is mainly because Malaysians are prone to use the pronouns ‘You’ and ‘I’ even when speaking in Bahasa Melayu. This habit alters our understanding of the pronoun ‘I’ when we need to use it correctly when speaking in English.

As mentioned in the examples above, ‘I’ carries the meaning ‘saya‘ in Bahasa Melayu while ‘Me’ carries the meaning ‘diri saya‘. When Malaysians use the pronoun ‘You’ and ‘I’ to replace ‘Awak‘ dan ‘Saya‘, it very easy to neglect the fact that ‘Me’ stands for ‘diri saya‘. Sadly, this easy choice has led to a lot of Malaysians confusing the meaning of ‘Me’ as ‘Saya‘.

In the third and fourth sentences, such errors are common even among native speakers. But we must adhere to the high standards we set for ourselves (this is also an up-coming topic in this blog). The correct sentence would be as follows:

A voucher was presented to him and me.
You and I will enjoy this vacation.

Doing a mental check on which is a Subject and which is an Object is quite complicated which results in many people abandoning the practice of checking – so, let me show you a way to check with yourself.

If you removed ‘him and‘ and ‘You and‘ in the sentences above, would the sentence still be correct?

A voucher was presented to him and I.
You and me will enjoy this vacation.

If the sentences still stand correct, then that means you have used ‘I’ and ‘me correctly 🙂

Now let’s move to the fifth sentence, which is also a common error among Malaysians when offering help using the verb ‘Let’. The reason this error is often done is because Malaysians equate the word ‘Let’ as ‘May’ where they ask for consent and permission i.e ‘May I’, which is to mean ‘izinkan saya‘ and ‘benarkan saya‘.

Understanding that although ‘Let’ and ‘May’ have almost the same meaning, they fall under different word class and cannot be perused similarly and of course we will have a different post about this under The Grammar Helpline category!

I hope my post above shed some light to you on the correct usage of ‘Me’ vs ‘I’. Now I would like to know from you! Is there any part in the usage of ‘Me’ vs ‘I’ about that you feel skeptical about? Let me know by commenting in the Comments sections below or by replying to my email if you are a Baini Mustafa Weekly Email subscriber.

You may choose to be a subscriber to my weekly email here as this is where I share updates, notes and news that I don’t share anywhere else!

See you again next week!

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Seha

    This is good, Baini. I wish more people can read this post.
    Thank you.

    1. Baini Mustafa

      I added the sharing button 😄 thanks for the nudge, Seha!

  2. Zai

    Thanks for the info baini

    1. Baini Mustafa

      Thank you for reading, Zai!

  3. Mangala

    Excellent examples of when to use “I” and “Me”.
    Great read and Thank you for posting this!

    1. Baini Mustafa

      Thank you for reading, Mangala!

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