The Role of Prepositions in Relational Climax

by Yule Heibel on July 5, 2005

I want to help banish the grammatically incorrect and absolutely atrocious use of the first person subject pronoun (“I”) in constructions that require the first person object pronoun (“me”), as in the grating “between you and I.” Why anyone would say that is beyond me.

Listen up: The correct phrase is “between you and me,” because “between,” being a preposition, calls for the object pronoun. (Other prepositions include: to, with, from, by, of, at, over, etc.) It’s up to her and me, not up to she and I; it’s over them and me, not over they and I; it’s with them and me, not with they and I; it’s by you and me, not by you and I. Get it? There’s the rub, this is where people go wrong: the word you stands in English for both the subject and the object second person pronoun. You’d never ever say it’s up to they, of course you’d correctly say up to them instead (“they” being the subject pronoun, “them” being the object pronoun). But you get confused because it’s up to you, which then makes it seem “improper” to say me — because they taught you at school that it’s wrong to say “Me and Jim went to bed.” Well, that’s because in this case, you and Jim are the subject of the sentence, hence the sentence requires the subject pronoun — “I”. In the case above (“up to me”), however, it’s precisely “me” which is the correct word, not “I.”

It’s between them and her, not between they and she. It’s from him and her, not from he and she. It’s from me and you, from you and me, not from I and you or from you and I. It’s that bloody “you” — yes, it’s YOU, your fault — you spat at them, you didn’t spit at they. You flew at me, you didn’t fly at I. You didn’t even fly at you and I, you flew at you and me. Yet “you,” hounded in your originally happy (if nearly unconscious) “me-ness” by know-nothing teachers who forbade use of the first person object pronoun the way strict Freudians (those sad sacks) might forbid use of the clitoris, always put yourself in there as centrepiece …and promptly confuse matters. “You” can’t get it straight whether you’re a subject or whether you’re an object. But just remember: prepositions show a relation between nouns or pronouns and another word, they connect words to other words. They show the relationship between an object (the object of a preposition) and other words in the sentence. The key word here is OBJECT. That’s why they require the object pronoun, not the bloody subject pronoun (“I”). English gets itself all messed up because “you” are both subject and object. Therein lies the rub and the great confusion.

Knowing the difference makes for a better …rub.

(…No cigar for you, Siegmund.)

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