Literary Discourse: ‘Between You and I’: Wrong in Grammar


INTRODUCTION
The phrase “between you and I” is among common errors in written and spoken English in Ghana. It is heard everywhere in the Ghanaian English-speaking community: at home, in office, at functions, on platforms, at schools. It is important to mention that the phrase “You and I” are correct. But when it is preceded by the preposition “between” or any other preposition, it should be “you and me”, NOT “you and I.”

JUSTIFICATION
“YOU” and “I” are among personal pronouns in SUBJECTIVE CASES in English. Pronouns are in subjective cases when they function as SUBJECTS of verbs in sentences. Examples are: “I have written a book.” “You have read the book.” In these two sentences both “I” and “YOU” are the subjects because they are the doers of the actions – WRITING in the first sentence and READING in the second sentence. Let us state the various pronouns in the context of NUMBER as an illustration of pronouns in SUBJECTIVE CASES.

First Person Singular = I
Second Person Singular = you
Third Person Singular = he/she/it
First Person Plural = we
Second Person Plural = you
Third Person Plural = they
All the above pronouns are used as SUBJECTS in sentence constructions: More examples: I drink tea everyday [NOT “me” drink tea everyday]. He has come here [NOT “him” has come here]. We are together [NOT “us” are together]. They have greeted the lecturer [NOT “them” have greeted the lecturer].

OBJECTIVE CASE
When the pronouns under review are in OBJECTIVE CASES they (with the exception of YOU) change in spelling and in function. Pronouns are in objective cases when they function as OBJECTS of verbs or OBJECTS of prepositions. Examples: Azindoo has lectured ME. In this construction, “ME” is object because it receives the action of the verb “LECTURE.” Azinpaga has written a letter to ME. Here “ME” functions as object of the preposition “TO.” So it will be wrong to say Azindoo has lectured I or Azinpaga has written a letter to I, since the contexts do not demand SUBJECTIVE CASES. For better understanding, let us state the pronouns in OBJECTIVE CASES:

First Person Singular = me
Second Person Singular = you
Third Person Singular = him/her/it
First Person Plural = us
Second Person Plural = you
Third Person Plural = them.
Now let us put the disputed phrase in a practical example to establish its grammatical deviation. “You and I are good friends, but the distance between you and I does not allow us to meet always.” Clearly this sentence is grammatically fractured by the phrase “between you and I” in the second clause. Indeed, once the preposition “BETWEEN” is involved, “I” is expected to be the object of it. Therefore, “I” should change to “ME”. So, the correct sentence should be: “YOU and I are good friends, but the distance BETWEEN YOU and ME does not allow us to meet always.” Kindly notice how “YOU and I” are correctly used in the beginning of the sentence as compound SUBJECT of the linking verb “ARE.”  Below are more examples:

YOU and I were not there when the pink sheets were collated, but when they were brought to YOU and ME, we analyzed them critically. In this sentence, “YOU and I” is compound subject of the verb “WERE,” and “YOU and ME” object of the preposition “TO.”

Though YOU and I render outstanding services to the International University College of Guluma (IUCG), the registrar hates YOU and ME for reasons best known to himself. Here “YOU and I” is compound subject of the verb “RENDER,” while “YOU and ME” is object of the verb “HATES.”

Because YOU and I are new the director imposes his ideas on YOU and ME. In this construction, “YOU and I” is subject of the verb “ARE,” and “YOU and ME” object of the preposition “ON.”

YOU and I continue to suffer for the institution, but our detractors in the institution still insult YOU and ME. In this sentence, we have “YOU and I” as subject of the verb “CONTINUE…” and “YOU and ME” as object of the verb “INSULT.”

It is significant to NOTE that in all the above illustrative sentences, “YOU and I” can be replaced by “WE” – subjective and “YOU and ME” can be replaced by “US” – objective. Below are examples:

WE [You and I] were not there when the pink sheets were collated, but when they were brought to US [YOU and ME], we analyzed them critically.

Though WE [YOU and I] render outstanding services to the International University College of Guluma (IUCG), the registrar hates US [YOU and ME] for reasons best known to himself.

Because WE [YOU and I] are new the director imposes his ideas on US [YOU and ME].

WE [YOU and I] continue to suffer for the institution, but our detractors in the institution still insult US [YOU and ME].

CONCLUSION
In the light of the above explanation, it is clear that the phrase “between you and I” is ungrammatical. Avoidance of it largely depends on proper understanding and careful use of pronouns in SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE cases. Dear reader, permit me to reiterate that ERROR ANALYSIS is not a mark of knowledge; it is rather an effort to remind users of the need to comply with grammatical rules, which help preserve the sanctity of living languages.

God is the Best Grammarian.
By Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo, Coordinator of Studies and University Relations, University of Applied Management (UAM)

Email: azindoo200@gmail.com Tell: 0244755402


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