Little help? I have a simple sentence that is flummoxing me

The sentence is this:

“Parker and me staying invisible is hard work.”

I originally had it as ‘Parker and I’. Prowriting aid (there’s a misnomer for you) says it should be ‘Parker and I’, but they can’t see more than 2 words ahead and have no concept of context. They get much more wrong than they get right. (AI will never write novels that are any good)

If you remove ‘Parker and’, the sentence would be “Me staying invisible is hard work.” It surely would not be “I staying invisible …”

If the sentence were “Parker and I went to the store”, well, yeah, ‘Parker and I’ makes sense. It’s the subject of that sentence. ‘Parker and me …’ typically only makes sense as an object.

But in this sentence, ‘Parker and me staying invisible’ acts like a nounal clause, does it not? Or is it a participial clause? ‘Staying invisible’ seems to be a participial phrase acting as the subject, but ‘Parker and me’ seems to be not the subject, and is acting more like an adverbial phrase modifying the subject. Now, my brain hurts.

Yeah, it might be considered part of the subject, but something about ‘Parker and I …’ just doesn’t feel right. My viewpoint character is intelligent and educated, but he is no grammarian, and ‘Parker and me’ seems more like what he would say in casual dialogue.

Realize, this is casual fiction, 1st-P. Not some academic thing.

I can’t figure out how to phrase it. The internet seems to not know, either. A ‘best guess’ just is not enough. what might be ‘preferred’ is not enough. An opinion is not enough. I need someone who actually knows the answer to chime in.

For Parker and me, staying invisible is hard work.

(French speaking dude, here. Feel free to disregard my suggestion. :wink: )

Yoda’s :
Invisible, Parker and me to stay, hard work it is.


Thanks. That is a bit less awkward. And it doesn’t raise any questions about how it should be phrased. ‘For’, seems to turn ‘Parker and me’ into the object. It’s just one of those sentences where the object comes before the subject.

Staying invisible is hard work for Parker and me.

The order doesn’t matter much. You were only missing “For”.

“Staying invisible” will remain the subject no matter how you try to fiddle it.

Agreed. But ‘is hard work’ has impact that ‘Parker and me’ does not have, so I want the sentence to end with the stronger impact of ‘is hard work’.

Colloquialism is hard to do, it seems. For instance,

“There’s no leaves on those trees now, only Christmas lights.”

It’s technically incorrect (is and leaves do not agree in quantity—‘leaves’ is plural while ‘is’ refers to singular). But it’s the way everyone talks. It does not violate the most important rule of not confusing the reader.

But in casual dialogue, if you correct it to ‘There are no leaves on those trees …’ it sounds stilted. It doesn’t sound like conversation.

But awkward, yes, I agree. (Sounds like an angry pirate.)

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It does kind of depend on the voice of the viewpoint character/narrator in 1st-P.

I like the story to feel conversational, like the narrator is simply having a beer with their friend the reader. I think I might have been influenced by ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, and how Holden Caulfield speaks to the reader, without breaking the fourth wall.

I’ve come late to this, but as someone who was taught grammar in the 1950s I England, and as a former linguist, “staying” is a nominal and therefore it should be “Parker and my staying…”. As the head of the NP is “staying” so it needs a possessive as a determiner.



Wouldn’t it then be “Parker’s and my […]” ?

Well yes, but you might get away with “Parker and my” with current grammar checkers. :smile:


I’ve always thought being a linguist is like being an Olympian; you can never be a former one (although for different reasons). :smiley:

Another vote here for “my”.

That’s how language works, right? Most votes wins?

Can I ask what accent the perspective character has? That will influence their voice, word choice, and levels of formal grammatical accuracy. Don’t forget to be true to that (unless they’re also an Olympi— I mean linguist).

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Very good, folks! Thanks so much.

I know if sanity is what I’m after, this forum is the place to go.

I think ‘my’ could be the answer.

The character is a former Navy SEAL from an upper-middle class family in 2018 Boston, 31 yrs old. Also a top student. Heritage is ‘mutt’ (Welsh, English, Irish, German, Cuban, and Italian). That’s sort of why colloquial imperfect grammar seems to fit him, I guess. Of course, a Mid-Atlantic accent is much milder than it was a generation or two ago.

There are ‘former’ and ‘ex’ SEALS, but there is no such thing as a former or ex-Marine. They’ll want to beat your ass if you refer to them that way. :clown_face:

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How about Parker and I discovered staying invisible is hard work.

“Parker and me staying invisible is hard work.”

Parker coughed. “You mean: ‘Parker and I’, right?”


“Man, your grammar is all over the place. Again.”

“Err… may I continue or do you want to tell the story?”

“Whatever.” Parker shrugged and easily became invisible.

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Haha. Very cool.

I’d steal that, except the person they are trying to stay invisible to is in the room. It’s actually not dialogue, but internal monologue, yet written it as if it is a conversation with the reader, so the protag’s voice is the same as if he were in an actual conversation…

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He could recall (in his mind) how Parker always nagged him about mixing up grammar. If this fits his character, of course. The good news is, since it’s the character talking and not the author/editor, he can get it wrong and away with it.

(*) Harrgh, there’re no leaves in these trees!

Except, in pirate speak, I believe that would be:

(1) Harrgh, there be no leaves in these trees!

I agree with the use of “my” here and it would be my first choice. I also agree with V_V. as it coheres better. Perhaps a complete re-write is in order?

Thanks, but no rewrite is necessary. Everything else works. I added the word ‘for’, and a comma, which completely fixed everything (Vincent’s suggestion).

I’ve fixed thousands of issues over the last 8 years, and cut tens of thousands of words, some in batches and some individually, but I’ve only had to do a full rewrite of a scene maybe twice.