Between I and You, Grammar Don’t Get Teached Rite

Understanding the Object Pronoun

You find yourself at a party, in a meeting, or in a restaurant eavesdropping on the next table’s conversation (naughty you!), or watching a news program or a good drama, when you hear this: “Between you and I …”

In your grammatically attuned ear, it reverberates as a sour note.

After that aural assault, regardless of how excellent or engaging what you are listening to might be, you’ve certainly lost a bit of interest, and the speaker is less compelling and, maybe, less reliable. Because constantly intruding on your appreciation, edification, or enjoyment is the knowledge that the writer or speaker doesn’t know his or her grammar.

Ergo, that person acquires a new, unflattering facet in your mind, as one who is not as educated, not as bright, not as accomplished as you first thought. Simply put: he or she does not know the basics of English grammar. In this case, the person transforming you into a confidant doesn’t understand the Objective Case in English usage.

Once upon a time, American school children had grammar pounded into their heads. Yes, we mean literally pounded in, especially if they attended a parochial school when the teachers were habit-wearing nuns. Take it on good authority, these old nuns had no patience for idiots abusing English (or for the general run of idiot, for that matter). They always had their truncheons, their rulers, at the ready to reinforce a lesson.

Those of you graduates of the black-habit grammar schools, as well as those of you fortunate enough to have learned from diligent teachers or parents who thought writing and speaking well and correctly were important basics in your education, know the proper form is “Between you and I.” For those of you who wish a refresher, here’s what you need to know about the object of a proposition and pronouns.

The object pronoun is always one of these: me, him, her, us, them. The subject pronouns are I, he, she, we, they. You is the same in both cases. Whom is the interrogative object pronoun and the subject version is who.

For example:

Right: Between you and me, he can’t tell his subjective from his objective.

Wrong: Between you and I, he can’t tell his subjective from his objective.

Some may say, “But wrong sounds right and vice versa.”

Then how about changing the sentence a bit to:

He can’t tell we his subject from his objective.

He can’t tell us his subject from his objective.

Reworking the sentence in your mind will usually help you easily distinguish correct from incorrect.

Oh, by the way, our headline features four usage errors. But you knew that. c/w


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