Let’s start with a pop quiz:

Is there a grammar mistake in the title of my blog?

If you answered “Yes” and believe that “Between You and I” would be correct, you have a lot of company. However, “Between You and Me” is actually the correct structure.

Why do so many of us say “Between you and I”? My guess is that at some point, maybe around age 8, you may have said to your mother something like, “Jimmy and me are going to the store.” She corrected you: “It’s ‘Jimmy and I’” and something clicked in your head, and you thought that if you’re talking about yourself and another person, you should always say “I” instead of “me.”

I’m here to set the record straight.

There are pronouns that belong as the subject of a sentence. They are: I, you, she, he, we, you, they, it.

Then there are pronouns that belong as the object of a sentence. They are: me, you, her, him, us, you, them, it.

The first thing you need to know is not to mix these two groups together! “Him and I” for instance takes one pronoun from the object group and one from the subject group. Mixing and matching is always incorrect no matter where in the sentence the pronouns fall.

“Between you and me” is a little trickier because our language uses “you” as both subject and object. Which group are we in here? Think about it: Would you say “Between us” or “Between we”? Of course you would say “Between us.” Now you know you’re in the object group which includes both “us” and (would you believe it?) “me.”

A nice easy way to determine what pronouns to use, when you want to include two subjects or objects, is to try out the sentence with just one of the subjects or objects and see how it sounds. For example: “I [not me] went to the store.” “He [not him] went to the store. Therefore, “He and I went to the store.” Notice “he” and “I” are in the group with “we.” “We went to the store” is of course also correct.

Another example: “Dave went to the store with him [not he].” “Dave went to the store with me [not I].” Therefore, “Dave went to the store with him and me” is correct.

I realize for some of you that last sentence might sound completely wrong and ungrammatical. Between you and me, I think it’s time to change that perception.

There’s a little quiz you can take at UsingEnglish.com: Quiz: Subject and Object Pronouns.  For more on this topic, see the article The English Personal Pronoun System.

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