GrammarPhile Blog

Keep This Between You and I?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Dec 18, 2013 5:30:00 AM

question markYou hear it all the time. Someone says, "Between you and I, this job is for the birds." Or, "They invited Mortimer and I to go out with them next week." Or even, "The general briefed the vice president and I on board Air Force 1." Help!

A compound construction is one in which two or more words share the same role in a sentence. When a pronoun is the final element in these constructions, there's a tendency to use the wrong form, particularly when the choice is between I and me. A good way to tell which form is correct in these situations is to see how the sentence would sound if that pronoun were by itself, or if it were the first word in the construction.

  • Please keep any discussion of the nominee's extreme bias between you and me. (Both you and me are OBJECTS of the preposition between. Test: You wouldn't say "...keep any discussion between I and you.")

  • It was kind of you to invite Jurbels and me to the hearing this week. (Both Jurbels and me are OBJECTS of the verbal phrase invite, which puts the pronoun in the objective case. Test: You wouldn't say, "It was nice of you to invite I to the hearing this week.")

  • Talullah and I were hoping that you would join her and me at the lake for water skiing tomorrow afternoon. (Talullah and I are both SUBJECTS of the verb were hoping; her and me are both OBJECTS of the verb join. Test: You wouldn't say, "Me and Talullah were hoping that you would join she and I." Well, at least we hopeyou wouldn't!)

    Source: Grammar for Smart People by Barry Tarshis.

Topics: using I or me, I or me

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