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Me either

November 9, 2011

I was driving along in the car the other day, and I made some comment about something I didn’t like or didn’t do or didn’t understand, and my fourteen-year-old daughter replied: ‘Me either’. I almost crashed the car.

     ‘ “Me either”?’ What does that mean?’

     ‘It means I don’t like it either.’

     ‘Then you should say “Me neither”.’

     ‘Why? I don’t want to say, “I don’t like it neither”.’

     ‘No, but…’ I found it surprisingly hard to explain why “Me either” is so terribly wrong. ‘Look, “Neither” is a negative, isn’t it? It means “And not”. So if you want to agree with a negative statement, you say “And not me”, don’t you?’

     ‘No you don’t.’

     ‘Well, you don’t, but that’s what you mean, isn’t it?’

     ‘Is it?’

    ‘Look, what would you say: “Or do I”, or ‘Nor do I”?’

     ‘Nor do I.’

     ‘Good. “Either do I”, or “Neither do I”?’

     ‘Neither do I.’

     ‘That’s right. So: “Me either”, or “Me neither”?’

     ‘Me either.’

     It was fairly obvious she was winding me up, but that didn’t stop it working. I terminated the conversation by putting some Neil Young on and singing along in a loud, whiny voice. But ever since I’ve been wondering whether I had logic on my side. “Me neither” is what I was brought up hearing and saying, and so it sounds right to me. But I’m now starting to feel doubtful whether it makes any better sense, logically, than “Me either”‘. It’s no good railing against it just because it’s an American import. So is Neil Young, and I don’t mind him. (Well, Canadian.)

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5 Comments
  1. C. Robshaw permalink

    I’m pretty sure logic’s on your side, although “Me neither” still isn’t very good.

  2. Peter Howell permalink

    Hi Brandon, it’s Peter here from Strawberry Hill. How are you mate?

    Surely your lovely daughter should say ‘Nor I’, or ‘Neither do I’, as I is subject here. But I’d actually be a little worried if my teenage daughter started using constructions like, ‘Nor I!’.

    Any chance of a post on the comma splice?

    • Hi Peter, good to hear from you. You’re right, ‘Me neither’ isn’t correct anyway in this case; but still, colloquially we accept its being used to agree with negative statements that have ‘I’ as subject, just as ‘Me too’ is used colloquially to agree with positive ones.

      Anyway. I think I will do a post on comma splices soon. I was thinking of doing one about misuse of ‘However’ and it would tie in with that.

  3. Peter Howell permalink

    Also, Neil Young-related true fact: The buffalo(es) in the film Dances with Wolves belonged to the tousle-haired veteran Canadian rocker. Apparently he lent his whole herd to Kevin Costner for the filming. Rock ‘n’ Roll!

  4. Peter Howell permalink

    And another thing – Brandon, do you know the word for the inclusion of a deliberate inaccuracy or quirk of formatting in a text, something that writers and publishers sometimes do in order to spot if someone plagiarises from them? As you taught me the word ‘mondegreen’, you’re The Person I Know Who’s Most Likely To Know It. I think it’s a similar word in that it derives from a celebrated example.

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