blog home

Two Mistakes That Are Not Necessarily Mistakes


  1. “Would you like to go to the zoo with Jane and me?”

    Somewhere along the way, many of us have got it into our heads that we should always be saying and I, and that saying and me is wrong.This is perhaps because many of us, at one time or another, have been corrected for using me in the wrong context without being taught the appropriate way to use each pronoun.

    I should be used when the pronoun is the subject of a verb. If the sentence makes sense with the word we, you should write Jane and I. If it doesn’t make sense, you should write Jane and me.

    Me should be used when the pronoun is the object of a verb. If the sentence make sense with the word us, you should write Jane and me. If it doesn’t make sense, you should write Jane and I.

    Let’s practise: •

    • Jane and ____ are going to the zoo.”


      We are going to the zoo.” vs. “Us are going to the zoo.”

      The sentence starting in we is the one that makes sense, so you know you should use Jane and I: “Jane and I are going to the zoo.”

    • “Would you like to go to the zoo with Jane and ____?”

      “Would you like to go to the zoo with we?” vs. “Would you like to go to the zoo with us?”

      The sentence ending in us is the one that makes sense, so you know you should write Jane and me: “Would you like to go to the zoo with Jane and me?”

      Watch out: It’s easy to mix these up because ‘we’ and ‘me’ rhyme! Remember WE = AND I, and US = AND ME.

  2. “Please can I go to the toilet?”

    Have you ever had a teacher who wouldn’t excuse you from class until you asked using may instead of can?

    In a question, the word can is used to ask for permission, to ask about capability, and to request someone to do something.

    For example:

    • “Can I go to the toilet?” (asks for permission)

    • “Can his brother speak French too?” (asks about capability)

    • “Can you pass the salt?” (requests someone to do something)

Since may is also used to ask for permission, many of us often get confused between when we should use can and when we should use may. For example, is it better to say:

  • “Can I go to the toilet?”
    or:
  • “May I go to the toilet?”

Many people believe that asking for permission using can is wrong and that only may should be used, but both are actually acceptable in Standard English. The main difference between the two words when asking for permission is that using may is more polite. We suggest that while can is fine to use in most situations, in more formal circumstances or when talking to strangers, it’s probably safer to use may.

Have a good week!


10 Mar 2015
blog home

Print this page

Sign up to remove this advert

Remove this advert

"I would like to thank you so much for this great website. I have always been ashamed of my spelling but after a few lessons I am already better. It is filling in all the gaps. Thanks."
Student, France

We have updated our cookie policy. We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on Spellzone. Find out more.