The pronoun I // is the first-person singular nominative case personal pronoun in Modern English. It is used to refer to one's self and is capitalized, although other pronouns, such as he or she, are not capitalized.
The grammatical variants of I are me, my, mine, and myself.
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English I originates from Old English (OE) ic. Its predecessor ic had in turn originated from the continuation of Proto-Germanic *ik, and ek; the asterisk denotes an unattested form, ek was attested in the Elder Futhark inscriptions (in some cases notably showing the variant eka; see also ek erilaz). Linguists assume ik to have developed from the unstressed variant of ek. Variants of ic were used in various English dialects up until the 1600s.
The Proto-Germanic root came, in turn, from the Proto Indo-European language (PIE). The reconstructed PIE pronoun is *egō, egóm, with cognates including Sanskrit aham, Hittite uk, Latin ego, Greek ἐγώ egō, Old Slavonic azъ and Alviri-Vidari (an Iranian language) اَز az.
The oblique forms are formed from a stem *me- (English me), the plural from *wei- (English we), the oblique plurals from *ns- (English us) and from Proto-Germanic *unseraz, PIE *no-s-ero- (our, ours).
I (and only this form of the pronoun) is the only pronoun that is always capitalized in English.[i] This practice became established in the late 15th century, though lowercase i was sometimes found as late as the 17th century.
There are some situations in which only the nominative form (I) is grammatically correct and others in which only the accusative form (me) is correct. There are also situations in which one form is used in informal style (and was often considered ungrammatical by older prescriptive grammars) and the other form is preferred in formal style.
With other pronouns, such as we (strictly speaking when used as a personal determiner), there may be exceptions to this in some varieties of English.
In all varieties of standard English, the accusative form me is used exclusively when it is the whole[iii] direct or indirect object[v] of a verb or preposition. The accusative me is also required in a number of constructions such as "Silly me!"
In many situations, both the nominative I and the accusative me are encountered.
When the pronoun is used as a subjective predicative complement, the nominative I is sometimes encountered in (very) formal style:
But this is often seen as hypercorrect and may be unacceptable, as in:
Me is usually preferred as a subjective predicate, especially in informal style:
The nominative I is more common in this role when it is followed by a relative clause:
though even here me is more common in non-formal style:
Following as or than (without a following explicit verb), the accusative form is common:
However, where it is possible to think of the pronoun as the subject of an implicit verb and than or as as a conjunction, the nominative I is found in formal style:
In Australian English, British English and Irish English, many speakers have an unstressed form of my that is identical to me (see archaic and non-standard forms of English personal pronouns).
The above applies when the pronoun stands alone as the subject or object. In some varieties of English (particularly formal English), those rules also apply in coordinative constructions such as "you and I". So the correct form is
In some varieties of non-standard informal English, the accusative is sometimes used when the pronoun is part of a coordinative subject construction, as in
This is highly stigmatized.
On the other hand, the use of the nominative I in coordinative constructions like "you and I" where me would be used in a non-coordinative object is less stigmatized—and in some cases so widespread as to be considered a variety of standard English:
That the non-standard form is less grammatically correct becomes more obvious in the following variations of the sentence, "Carl went with George and I."
In each case the pronoun me would sound more appropriate.
In casual conversations, myself is often used where "me" is more appropriate, as in the sentence "The room was painted by Jane and myself". However, the word "myself" would seem to imply that no one else was involved in painting the room.
|Person (gender)||Subject||Object||Dependent possessive (determiner)||Independent possessive||Reflexive|
|1st||Singular||iċ||[ɪtʃ]||mec / mē||mē||mīn|
|Plural||wē||[weː]||ūsic||ūs||ūser / ūre|
|2nd||Singular||þū||[θuː]||þec / þē||þē||þīn|
|Person / gender||Subject||Object||Possessive determiner||Possessive pronoun||Reflexive|
|First||ic / ich / I
|me / mi
|min / minen [pl.]
|min / mire / minre
|min one / mi selven|
|Second||þou / þu / tu / þeou
|þi / ti
|þin / þyn
|þeself / þi selven |
|him[a] / hine[b]
|his / hisse / hes
|his / hisse
|Feminine||sche[o] / s[c]ho / ȝho
|heo / his / hie / hies / hire
|hio / heo / hire / heore
|hit / him
|hit sulue |
|us / ous
|ure[n] / our[e] / ures / urne
|us self / ous silve |
|Second||ȝe / ye
|eow / [ȝ]ou / ȝow / gu / you
|eower / [ȝ]ower / gur / [e]our
|Ȝou self / ou selve |
|Third||From Old English||heo / he||his / heo[m]||heore / her||-||-|
|From Old Norse||þa / þei / þeo / þo||þem / þo||þeir||-||þam-selue|
Many other variations are noted in Middle English sources due to difference in spellings and pronunciations. See Francis Henry Stratmann (1891). A Middle-English dictionary . [London]: Oxford University Press. and A Concise Dictionary of Middle English from A.D. 1150 TO 1580 , A. L. Mayhew, Walter W. Skeat, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1888.
|1st person||singular||I||me||my/mine[# 1]||mine|
|2nd person||singular informal||thou||thee||thy/thine[# 1]||thine|
|plural or formal singular||ye, you||you||your||yours|
|3rd person||singular||he/she/it||him/her/it||his/her/his (it)[# 2]||his/hers/his[# 2]|
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