Monthly Archives: July 2013

‘I’ or Despicable ‘Me’? 2 Tips to Remember

Dispicable Me 2Never stumble over this grammar rule again

Have you ever found yourself stumped about whether you should use “I” or “me” in a sentence? About once a week, I come across one or the other used in the wrong way. Most of the time it’s in conversation. Whomever I’m talking with will vacillate between the two, trying them out, switching them, the gears in their head down shifting as their gaze turns glassy. Then, after a moment, they surrender, deciding I suspect, that while they may look dopey not knowing the answer, they look equally dopey fumbling with only chance to guide them.

2 rules: subject or object

If you’ve found yourself in that situation, stop worrying. Avoid confusion by following two simple rules.

  • Use the “I,” and other subjective pronouns like “we,” “he,” “she,” “you,” and “they,” when the pronoun is the subject of a verb:
    She drove to work.
    We waited for the train.
    Samantha and I are going to lunch.

The last sentence is one that often sends people into a tailspin. Use “I” instead of “me,” because “Samantha and I” is the subject of the verb “are going.”

  • Use “me,” and other objective pronouns like “us,” “him,” “her,” “you,” and “them,” when the pronoun is the object of a verb:
    Marcus congratulated them.
    The wounded fox followed Samantha and me to the door.

Again, the last sentence is the one that most of us have trouble with. Use “me” instead of “I,” because “Samantha and me” is the object of the verb “followed.”

A twist: after a preposition

As with any good English grammar rule, there is a twist. Luckily, this one isn’t complicated.

  • Use the pronoun “me,” and other objective pronouns like “us,” “him,” “her,” “you,” and “them,” when the pronoun is the object of a preposition:
    Samantha road to the station with Alex and me.

This one might be the knottiest of all. For whatever reason, a preposition used like this, especially “with,” tricks many people’s’ ears into thinking “I” sounds correct. Use “me” instead of “I,” because “Alex and me” is the object of the preposition “with.”

What grammar tip do you rely on most? Let me know in a comment or Tweet me!

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

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Are 75 Words Killing Your Website?

Gandalf, web content, road sign, obstacle

Content should be a road sign to “go,” not an obstacle.

Don’t waste the first 75 words on your homepage introducing yourself and explaining who you are and what you’re about. Readers won’t make it to where you want them to go. Imagine you’re visiting the website of a hospital. You don’t care about the CEO. You want to schedule an appointment, see what the office hours are, or connect with a physician about your ailment.

Save introductions for a side column or an “about” page. If you want more visitors and for visitors to stick around longer, that prime real estate should be about them and their needs not about you. The Internet is backward that way. What can I say? If it could, it would eat its salad before its entree.

A grizzle veteran of the Internet wars (akin to the “late night” wars) once told me that as content creators our goal should be to map the road signs for our guests. If that’s true, then introducing yourself on the homepage tells visitors to “Stop. Do not pass.” at the precise moment we want them to “go” and find the product or service they came for.

Out with obstacles

If you’re a business: long introductions can kill sales. You don’t want to plant obstacles in customers’ paths. The more hurdles customers’ have to overcome to find a product the more will lose their way or give up. What if you’re not a business? The rule still applies.

If you’re a university or nonprofit: publishing the dean’s or executive director’s message on the homepage is a “No, no.” Prospective students and clients who visit the site know they’re unlikely to ever meet or interact with one of these top administrators. They want to know about the students and faculty in the school’s programs and the good works the nonprofit does.

Offer visitors a road sign

If you’re a city, county, or state: skip to the services that people want like paying parking tickets, filing a home remodel application, or tracking down a phone number or email address. Visitors will come away feeling that a bureaucracy can be a breeze, which means they’ll be more likely to come back. When a city was founded and why it’s so great is interior page information for “about,” “history,” or “visit us,” pages — or, even, fodder for the chamber of commerce’s website.

Too often, I see homepages filled with distractions, false links, and barriers fit for a Tough Mudder. Think of it as bad customer service. Instead, let the first words on your page be about the top tasks and topics visitors come to your site for. Intuit what visitors need. Everyone is flattered by that kind of attention. Do they want to search? Get married? Make a reservation? Offer them a road sign.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.