You and I. You and me. What’s the problem?

Right or wrong?

One of my biggest grammatical pet peeves is the misuse of the objective case. Here is one of the main offenders that makes me cringe like fingernails just scratched a blackboard.

So many people use “and I” because they think it’s proper English.

I know.  I know. We were taught in grade school to say, “Jane and I are best friends,” instead of, “Me and Jane are best friends.”

Were we told wrong?

No. But we weren’t told enough. So now, perfectly sane adults run around saying, “So-and-so and I” in very insane sentences.

The rule is very simple. You only use “I” when that’s the subject of the sentence. “Jane and I are going to the store.” “Jane and I were given free candy.”

Test this by taking Jane out of the sentence (and adjust the verb of course).

” I was given free candy.” “I am going to the store.” Perfect!

But here’s where it gets crazy.

You hear it all the time.

“Let’s keep this between you and I.” (Aack!)

“The lawyer told my husband and I exactly how to proceed.” (Oh no!)

What’s the problem, you ask? The problem is that “I” is actually the object of those sentences. Whenever something comes after a preposition (in most cases), it is the object of that preposition. And whenever something is done to something or someone, it is safe to assume it is the object.

Have you ever taken Spanish or French in school? Remember the verb conjugation chart? English has one too. And the word “me” is to be used in the objective case.

So let’s not keep this between you and me. My teacher told my friend and me that it’s okay to say “me” instead of “I”. It’s up to you and me to spread the word. “Me” is our friend. Don’t be afraid to use it.

In fact, if you find yourself using “and I” extensively, you probably should be saying “and me” in most of those cases.

Stay tuned for a couple more of my grammatical pet peeves.

24 Responses to “You and I. You and me. What’s the problem?”

  1. I see this error frequently in manuscripts I edit.

  2. yes technicaly you could call it an error, but one thing i learnt about blogging is dont write like you wrote at school and are trying to impress your teacher. bloggin is a lot more casual and lots more gramtically incorrect!

    • Theda K. says:

      I agree that’s kind of becoming the norm, but I think it’s still important to write correctly. Correct writing makes your point clearer to the reader, and easier to read. Personally, when I find a blog or article full of errors, I stop reading and never return to the site, figuring that the person is incorrect in other things too (like the content).

      A few mistakes are acceptable, since not everyone is an editor, but when there are too many I simply can’t read the material.

      That’s just me, though.

  3. AW Duea says:

    Thanks for this post – I actually have the same post idea in my blog idea book, but instead I think I’ll book mark to yours. Well said!

  4. Terry Heath says:

    Thanks, Theda, for making it so succinct. Glad to have found your site, I know I’ll be a follower.

  5. […] excellent grammar lesson about objective […]

  6. This is one of the grammatical rules i have actually remembered most of all since my elementary school days, and i still find myself testing the sentences where i need to differentiate between ‘you and i’ or ‘you and me’ the same way you explained in your post.

    Addressing the subconcious mind’s post, i agree that blogging should be a more casual writing style, but you don’t want to sound uneducated. If you’re blogging for money, no one will take your reviews serious if you sound like a third grader.

  7. I’m sure I do this all the time! Now I’m going to be much more careful. 🙂

  8. It’s been a while since I took German, but they never have problems with the I/me situation… I wonder why Americans have such a hard time with this?

  9. DeMerchant says:

    I am notoriously bad at grammar, but this is such a simple thing (especially when explained with the rules you, as well as my mom, used)

  10. Addiction says:

    This has to be one of the simplest grammar lesson, yet it also confuses most people. Thank you for posting this!

  11. Reem says:

    As I was reading the post, I couldn’t help but cringe at how many times I had made that mistake myself. Thanks for the tip;)

  12. Arjen says:

    I used to think I know a lot about the English grammar but this You and Me and You and I thing still torments me. Thanks for the tip. My step-brother, who is into home loan refinance, would also love to have these pointers.

  13. […] objective case is very confusing to many, and the who/whom question is at the top of the […]

  14. Jen says:

    I have been trying to find some support for what I think is a grammatical error. Hopefully you can help me since you seem to know a thing or two about proper english.
    When describing who is in a picture do you have to say John, Jane, and I? Even if you are the first one shown in the pic (from left to right)? And shouldn’t you say ‘me’ in any case?? Let’s say I have a picture where I am shown on the left and then there are two people on the right. I have it in my mind that you’re supposed to say, “Me, Jane, and John” . . . is that proper english??

  15. I like to mess with people, when it comes to me and I thing. I correct them even if they have it correct, and 99% of the time they will change it to be incorrect. I just like to have fun with it.

  16. […] point is that my daughter uses almost perfectly correct grammar when she speaks. Sometimes she’ll say “me” instead of “I”, and of course she’s no English expert, but it’s amazing to watch her learn English […]

  17. […] She says, “So many people use “and I” because they think it’s proper English. I know. I know. We were taught in grade school to say, “Jane and I are best friends,” instead of, “Me and Jane are best friends.” Were we told wrong? No. But we weren’t told enough. So now, perfectly sane adults run around saying, “So-and-so and I” in very insane sentences.” Read the rest of her helpful post here. […]

  18. Sport Cars says:

    Thanks for the grammar tip. I guess I have been using it wrong for a very, very long time =p. Well I guess it is time to change and make a good habit of using correct grammar! Thanks again!

    Sport Cars’s last blog post..2010 Lotus Evora

  19. I caught myself saying “John” and I during a conversation in the last week and had to go back and say “me.” I was embarrassed, but still happy I caught the error as soon as it came out of my mouth.
    .-= Nerissa Marbury´s last blog ..Social Media: Is it a fad? =-.

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