Between you and me vs Between you and I

Between you and me, the phrase "between you and I" grates on my ears like nails on a chalkboard. I hear the wrong version about 3 times as often as I hear it said the right way, so let’s get this straightened out once and for all.

Between is a preposition, and in English, a preposition must be followed by an indirect object pronoun. Me is an indirect object pronoun, while I is a subject pronoun. Therefore, between has to be followed by me, not I.

Preposition Correct Incorrect
with She went with me. She went with I.
She went with Bill and me. She went with Bill and I.
to Tom gave it to me. Tom gave it to I.
He wants to talk to you and me. He wants to talk to you and I.
from This is from me. This is from I.
This is from your mom and me. This is from your mom and I.
between This is between Tom and me. This is between Tom and I.
Just between you and me. Just between you and I.

The Bottom Line

The confusion between whether to use me or I may be due to the fact that many people over-correct when it comes to using the pronoun I.

For many of us, we can still hear a parent or teacher saying,

Tom and I went to the store.
Not “Tom and me went to the store.”

In this sentence, I is correct because it’s the subject: I went to the store with Tom = Tom and I went to the store.

This admonition continues to echo in that auto-correct spot of our brains. Consequently, if there is any doubt whatsoever about which pronoun to use, the little sound bite gets activated and we opt for I.

Learn more about the difference between me and I.

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4 Responses

  1. bugrit 14 January 2015 / 05:46

    Yes, fingernails scraping on a blackboard, that’s it exactly:

    Helen Mirren’s Elizabeth I to Jeremy Irons’ Earl of Essex in a Channel 4 UK TV drama: “What is it between you and I?” How’s that for some wildly anachronistic dialogue and appalling grammar?

    On BBC Radio 4, in a play: “Something passed between you and I earlier today..” and this, believe it or not, was from the lips of, wait for it.. Samuel Johnson!

    Also on Radio 4 I heard “..sending you a photo of Charlie and I taken at..” and this was presented as a quote from a letter written by Winston Churchill to his wife. When I pointed out to the BBC that Churchill, of all people, would never have written that, they replied to the effect that they had taken the quote from a book written by one or other of Churchill’s descendants, I forget which one. It appears that someone had the temerity to “correct” Winnie’s grammar while transcribing his personal correspondence but it still does not absolve the BBC from their responsibility to use the correct English.

    I find it astonishing that nobody involved in the production of the broadcasts ever cried out in anguish at such grammatical howlers. Can it really be that all those script-writers, editors, proof-readers, actors, directors, producers, sound engineers, camera-men and sundry dogsbodies are illiterate? They are well known for proudly professing their innumeracy so perhaps the media lovies have started taking perverse pride in illiteracy too.

  2. kathy simoes 17 March 2015 / 17:09

    Thanks you for your input. My query is the latest craze of saying “me and John are …) is this incorrect or am I getting too fussy. I would have thought this should be would be John and I.
    I know its tweeking my last nerve.
    kind regards

  3. lkl 18 March 2015 / 07:18

    You’re right, it should be “John and I are.”

  4. Billie 21 March 2015 / 13:02

    You covered every scenario but one. Between her and me — or between she and me. I wrote between her and me in a Word document, and Microsoft had the nerve to underline me as if it was a problem. I substituted I to see what it would do with that….and to my shock it took away the underlining! Arghh!

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