We had it drilled into our heads so much as students that we revert to it when in doubt: Always place another person before yourself in sentences! For example, “Daisy and I are sick of English lessons.” (At least Daisy and the speaker are grammatically correct in their utterance, so maybe they’re just bored.)
The use of “I” above is correct because it’s part of the subject of the sentence. Just as it’s correct to say “I love hugging trees,” it’s correct to compound the subject and say “Bill and I love hugging trees.” (I'll bet they also love hugging each other out in the trees, but I digress.) That’s why teachers harped and harped on it—to get hillbillies like me to stop saying, “Me and Bill love huggin’ trees.”
Where things get problematic is when the compound is not the subject, but the object. After being hit on the hand with a ruler—or even just kept inside from recess enough times—we decided it was just easier and less painful to automatically spout out “Barthalomew and I” regardless of where it occurs in a sentence. In fact, people do it so often (I remember hearing both presidential candidates do it while campaigning last year!) that it almost doesn’t sound wrong anymore. Almost.
Quiz time. Which is correct?
Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for Shane and I.
Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for Shane and me.
(Think subliminally—Christmas isn’t far off!)
If you chose the second one, you are CORRECT, my friend! The test you can always use until you become comfortable saying it, is to remove the other part of the compound and see how it sounds. I wouldn’t say, “Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for I.” But I would DEFINITELY say, “Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for me.”
And that’s a great thought to close this thing out…