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

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 19 02:08:25 UTC 2010

I wonder how it came to be that people think that "NP and I" is
*always" correct, whereas "NP and me" is *never* correct. When I was
in my all-black grade school, we used "you and me" and "me and you"
interchangeably and *never* "you and I," though we came across it in
our [Catholic] Cathedral [of Baltimore] Basic Readers" and in other

At my high school, which was 99.44% per cent white, we used a book
entitled P"prose and Poetry" and another called "English Grammar." The
latter book explained quite clearly that "me and you" was simply wrong
and stated the rules that govern the use of "you and I" as opposed to
"you and me." I internalized those rules and I use them to this day.

However, over the course of the dekkids, something has gone wrong,
since "between you and I" is quite current, if not standard, in said
high school's alumni magazine.


On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 7:32 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Back to you and I (who went to row the boat ashore)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
> JL
> On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 6:07 PM, James Harbeck <jharbeck at>wrote:
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>> 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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