Back to you and I (who went to row the boat ashore)

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu Feb 18 23:07:41 UTC 2010

I have a related, though not quite identical, case: I was walking
down the steet one day last year when a young woman came up with her
camera and said, "Can you take a picture of my friends and me?"
indicating herself and another woman and a man. And then she said,
"Sorry about the grammar." I said, "What about the grammar?" She
said, "You and me... you and _I_..." I told her that actually in that
context "you and me" was correct. She seemed surprised. After I had
taken the picutre and was walking away, I heard her ask the man with
her, "Is that correct, 'you and me'?" And he said, "No, it's 'you and

I find in general people who use phrases such as "between you and I"
use them with the idea that "X and me" is always incorrect and "X and
I" is always correct. I can't say that I've ever encountered anyone
who uses them both distinctively within the same register (as opposed
to using "you and me" when speaking unselfconsciously and "you and I"
when trying to be correct). That makes it different from, for
instance, "split infinitives," where a given person may use "really
to do" and "to really do" to mean different things.

It's also a little different from double negatives, which are
sometimes used as a deliberate overt register marker: "wrongness" in
quotation marks, as it were. I don't see people using "you and
I"/"you and me" used to mark out deliberately "wrong" colloquial
speech, probably because "everyone knows" that double negatives are
"wrong," whereas this usage is still contentious and will tend to be
taken as a marker in earnest of incorrectness.

But, Robin, it seems you have data that contradict my own
observations... I'd be interested in further details. It may well be
different in the usage contexts you encounter.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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