Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: The need to avoid mixed-case usage in English - III  (Read 63 times)
Joe Carillo
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Karma: +52/-2
Posts: 3460


View Profile Email
« on: October 10, 2017, 11:39:14 PM »

We discussed in second part of this series this prescription of the case rule in English: We can’t mix a noun and pronoun—or a pronoun and another pronoun—that are in different cases. This rule is particularly crucial when we combine or mix two or more pronouns to form compound subjects, compound doers of the action, or compound objects (receivers of the action). We have already taken up two typical examples of improper case mixing, and we will now take up just two more examples to emphasize the importance of avoiding mixed-case usage.  


3. Mixing the objective case “you” and the nominative case “I

Wrong: “Our neighbors are nasty to you and I.” (The pronoun “you” is in the objective case while the pronoun “I” is in the subjective case, resulting in case mixing.)

Correct: “Our neighbors are nasty to you and me.” (The pronouns “you” and “me” are now both in the objective case.)

4. Mixing the objective case “me” and the subjective case “they”

Wrong: “I wish they were nicer to me and they.” (The pronoun “me” is in the objective case while the pronoun “they” is in the subjective case, resulting in case mixing.)

Correct: “I wish they were nicer to me and them.” (The pronouns “me” and “them” are now both in the objective case.)

I trust that the four examples of improper case mixing we have taken up have fortified our understanding of case, which is a very important but often poorly understood aspect of English grammar. All we need to do now is to resolve the question raised by Dessang about the usage of “Between you and I…” by her international school colleagues. In keeping with the case rule, shouldn’t it be “between you and me…” instead?

To put our discussions on a surer footing, let’s use that expression in a complete sentence, say, “This secret is just between you and I.” Is that sentence correct, or should it be constructed as “This secret is just between you and me” instead?

That question is rather tricky because the pronoun “you” doesn’t inflect or change whether it’s in the nominative (and subjective) case or objective case. In that sentence, therefore, it’s not that easy to figure out if “you” is functioning as a subject or as an object. But we know that by definition, “me” can only be a pronoun in the objective case, so, following the case rule, it can only be combined or compounded with another objective-case pronoun. That pronoun, obviously, would be the objective case “you” rather than the subjective (or nominative) case “you.”

 
                   CORRECT COMPOUNDING OF PRONOUNS                 WRONG COMPOUNDING OF PRONOUNS

There is actually another way to buttress the argument in favor of “between you and me” as the correct usage. From our basic grammar, we should instantly recognize “between” as a preposition, and we will likely also remember this traditional rule in English grammar: When the pronoun is the object of a preposition, that pronoun should be in the objective case.

We already know that the pronoun “me” is in the objective case, so it is the proper pronoun (not the subjective case “I”) to combine with the objective case “you”—meaning that “between you and me” is indeed the correct form and not “between you and I.” This is admittedly a complicated explanation, but there’s no avoiding it if we are to clearly establish the logic of “between you and me” as the standard accepted usage instead of “between you and I.”


So, to go back to Dessang’s question at the outset, she absolutely didn’t learn something wrong or miss out something in school. It’s her international school colleagues who, even if they are native English speakers, are definitely wrong in their mixed-case constructions. It would be a great idea then to alert them and similarly ill-informed people about this discussion on improper case mixing—the sooner, the better.

This essay, 684th of a series, appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the March 20, 2010 issue of The Manila Times, © 2010 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 11:58:33 PM by Joe Carillo » Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to: