I me mine

There are few things in life more embarrassing than being called out for a grammatical error.

Scratch that.

There are few things in life more embarrassing than being called out for a grammatical error. By your friend’s parents. When you are 13 and want nothing more than to impress everyone else with your worldly wit and grasp of the English language.

When I was younger, I had a tendency to mix up “I” and “me.” I’d say, “Does anyone want to go swimming with my sister and I?” or “My mom is baking cookies for my friend and I,” completely oblivious of the error. I’d always been taught to avoid using “me” in place of “I,” such as in the erroneous “Viggo Mortensen and me are going to get married some day,” but I didn’t realize the lesson went both ways.

One day, my friend and I were hanging out, joking as innocent middle-schoolers do, when she casually mentioned, “You know, my mom says you don’t know the difference between ‘I’ and ‘me.’ ” Then she went back to painting her toenails as though nothing had happened. I, meanwhile, sat there as though someone had just hit me over the head with a mallet. I was dumbstruck. So much for my perfect grammar.

Perhaps as a result of my humiliation, I began to realize over the course of the following school year that my grammar wasn’t quite as flawless as I’d always thought: Sometimes I added commas just for the hell of it or overhyphenated my compound nouns, following the questionable logic of “more is always better.” But that’s beside the point.

I’ve since learned that using “I” instead of “me” is just as incorrect as the reverse. Luckily, there’s an easy trick to make sure you never end up watching your life collapse into pieces because of a grammar mistake (I jest, I jest).

Take this example: “Hillary Clinton wants to get coffee with Amy Poehler and me.” If you take out the first object, Amy Poehler, does it still make sense?

Correct: “Hillary Clinton wants to get coffee with me.”

Incorrect: “Hillary Clinton wants to get coffee with I.”

Of course, if Hillary Clinton really did want to get coffee with I, I’m not sure I’d refuse.