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

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Feb 19 01:26:34 UTC 2010

At 2/18/2010 07:32 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>I've been monitoring "between you and I" on TV for years, and I
>guaran*******tee that it's been almost as long since I've heard anybody, on
>TV or off, say "between you and me."  In fact, AFAIK, I'm the only person I
>know who stilll says "...and me" - because long ago I was taught that if I
>didn't I'd be thought to be a lamebrain.
>Now James and I are the lamebrains. That's irony for you.

I'm another.  (Although as a reviewer once wrote about the vampire
movie "Black Sunday", I have an irony deficiency.)  I instructed a
teen-age acquaintance to analyze this by removing the "and" and the
named person, leaving only the pronoun, and asking herself would she
still say "<preposition> I" (or as the object of a sentence)?  E.g.,
"Tom gave the book to I" will immediately sound wrong, whereas "Tom
gave the book to Jane and I" may sound OK.  Of course that can't be
applied to "between" -- can't remove the "and".  And of course the
lesson probably didn't take.


>On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 6:07 PM, James Harbeck <jharbeck at>wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>
> > Subject:      Re: Back to you and I  (who went to row the boat ashore)
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > 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.'"
> >
> > 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.

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