Not sure whether to say we or us? Use this simple trick.

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Just this morning my mail included a message from a fellow copywriter who wanted to sell me a course on Tweeting for leads.

It began with “Nowadays us copywriters are being bombarded with…”

What? Ouch!!

grammar book“Nowadays us are?” No, no, no!

“Us” is an object, not a subject – and if she’d just removed the qualifying word “copywriters,” she’d have seen her error in an instant and changed that “us” to “we.”

And that’s the simple trick. Simply remove qualifying words or other people, read the sentence aloud, and you can hear which word belongs.

If you read “Us is being bombarded…” you’d know it simply didn’t sound right. The same would be true if you said “Please pick we up at the airport.” And yet, I’ve heard people use “We travelers” as an object.



We travelers had a long night. / We had a long night.

It was a long night for us travelers. / It was a long night for us.

The same kind of confusion surrounds “I” and “me,” and the same cure works.

Little children might say “Me want a cookie,” but by the time they’re old enough for school, most of them know that it’s “I want a cookie.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a child say “Give that to I,” but perhaps some of them do.

Nonetheless, some adults use I as an object word when they include another person in the sentence.

Every now and then I mention the fact that my neighbor with the Master’s Degree uses “I” as an object.

I mention it because every time he says it, I cringe. He doesn’t say “Carol baked a cake for I,” but when his wife was living, he would have said “Carol baked a cake for my wife and I.”

How do you tell a subject from an object?

A Subject is just that – a subject. That’s the person (or thing) that the sentence is about. Often located at the beginning of a sentence, it is the person on thing performing the action of the verb.

An object is the receiver of the action. It very often follows a preposition, such as of, for, about, and to.

Consider the sentence “I love you.” Or perhaps "I have great love for you."

  • “I” is the subject, “love” is the verb, “you” is the receiver, or the object.

However, if it happens to be an indirect object, that preposition is merely understood.eating pizza

Take these sentences for example: “Joe bought a pizza.” Joe is the subject, bought is the verb, and pizza is the object. But that’s not all the information.

"Joe bought us a pizza."

“Us” is the indirect object following the understood preposition “for.” In other words, "Joe bought a pizza for us."

Wouldn’t it sound crazy to you to say “Joe bought we a pizza?”

You also wouldn’t say "Joe bought a pizza for we,"  “Joe bought I a pizza,” or "Joe bought a pizza for I."

But people like my neighbor would say “Joe bought my wife and I a pizza.”

If in doubt, leave the descriptive word or the other person/people out of the sentence, then read it to yourself. Then you can put the person or description back in - and adjust the verb from singular to plural if necessary.

I can almost guarantee that you’ll “hear” the correct word to use.


 Pizza eaters courtesy of Ambro at

Grammar book courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Great advice .I heard my neighbor with a master degree speaking  Marte Cliff  Thanks for the info

Mar 21, 2017 05:25 PM #1
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Marts- as I was reading the sentence from your fellow copywriter, I cringed! And please, no more sentences beginning "Me and Joe....

Mar 21, 2017 07:06 PM #2
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Hannah Williams It sounds like your neighbor knows grammar better than mine. And yet, my neighbor LOVES to use words he thinks we hillbillies won't be able to comprehend. So he spells them and gives the definition. There are times when I want to smack him, but... maybe I'll be obnoxious when I'm 89.


Mar 21, 2017 07:31 PM #3
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kathy Streib I cringed when I read it, and I sent her a note that just said "Us copywriters?" She sent back a friendly note saying we should connect on Facebook. She didn't "get it."

As for "Me and Joe" - where I went to high school everyone said things like that. They always said it quickly, so it came out sounding like 'Mean Joe." Everyone looked at me like I was a creature from space when I'd say "Why do you want to hang out with him if he's mean?" They had no idea what I meant.

Mar 21, 2017 07:33 PM #4
Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

Unfortunately, our educational quality has declined over the years.  I am certain I did not receive as good an education as my parents. You may even find a grammatical error in my response! :) Another grammar mistake I often hear--Ex: "Who should I give this check to?" (instead of to whom should I ..." , dangling prepositions is another pet peeve.

Mar 21, 2017 08:50 PM #5
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Marte - You are really good at what you do. Thanks so much for sharing this info.

Mar 21, 2017 10:06 PM #6
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Troy Erickson Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad to share these things - especially when I can find tricks to make it easier to remember.

I recall when I couldn't ever decide whether to use we or us when there was an adjective - neither one ever sounded right.

Mar 21, 2017 10:36 PM #7
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

WE appreciate what you share with US! 

Mar 22, 2017 12:21 AM #8
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

As always, great advice regarding how to correctly use words!

Mar 22, 2017 05:09 AM #9
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Marte. I always think saying it aloud does the trick. Enjoy the day.

Mar 22, 2017 07:41 AM #10
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Marte - I remember well Miss Gibson, my 8th grade English teacher beating that lesson into us, along with everything else about the language she could cram into our pitiful attention spans. That one stuck with me.

Mar 22, 2017 12:48 PM #11
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Love your grammar posts.  This is not one that trips me up.  Thankfully, I learned that trick early on.

Mar 22, 2017 04:17 PM #12
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

A grammer lesson on AR!  I cringe when I see poor grammer , punctuation and spelling on flyers and home descriptions.  Thanks for the tips!

Mar 28, 2017 07:34 PM #13
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

In school, I was not very good at understanding parts of speech and diagramming sentences. However, I became pretty good at listening to the sound of the sentence. If it did not sound right, I would try to make the changes necessary.

Thanks for the great information.

Mar 29, 2017 04:11 AM #14
Janelle Ancillotti
Seneca Home Staging - Syracuse, NY
HSR Certified Home Stager, Syracuse, NY

Love this lesson Marte. Some people think they're using the correct word when they aren't. I brought a group of kids to an event, and when I approached the person collecting admission, I said "I'm paying for him, him, him, and me." She laughed at me and corrected my grammar, then said I must have "Mom brain". I didn't bother to respond.

Mar 29, 2017 04:56 AM #15
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"

Marte, it is always good read your refresher posts. The "my wife and I" trap is easy to get caught in.

Mar 29, 2017 05:54 AM #16
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Nice lesson!  For me, it really does come down to what sounds right.  I am a simple man!

Mar 29, 2017 06:12 AM #17
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

Grammar is everything. Love your post. Way back when I was in college, I took a composition course. I hated every minute of it. The professor was a a nice lady, but also a tyrant. No matter what paper I wrote, it was always returned with red ink everywhere. Needless to say,  I have learned (years later) that she taught me so much! I write real estate advice for a local paper, as well as other writings, and now realize she taught me more than I could have ever imagined. 

Mar 29, 2017 06:59 PM #18
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Melissa E. Spittel You were fortunate to have a teacher who persisted even though you resisted! Good for you for writing for the local paper - what a perfect way to build your status as the local expert.

Mar 30, 2017 10:45 AM #19
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

Thanks for another lesson. In western PA we said yunz for plural you, like y'all down south.

Sometimes bad grammar is fun for songs, movies, and TV.
Janis Joplin: Me and Bobby McGee
James Brown: I Feel Good
Tarzan: Me Tarzan, you Jane.
Tonto to the Lone Ranger: Me go now Kemosabe.

Apr 05, 2017 07:51 PM #20
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