Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?

Between you and I?

telling secrets : between me and you

It’s a secret. Just between you and…er…

According to Fowler’s Modern English Usage, “between you and I” is to be condemned. Anyone who writes that abomination is living in “a grammarless cavern”.
What we should write, of course, is “between you and me”.

How to tell?

Without going into the grammar technicalities, ask yourself whether you’d write or say “between I and you”. You wouldn’t. You’d say “between me and you”. Normally, we put ourselves second but that doesn’t change the rule on whether to use “I” or not.
It’s “between me and you”, so it’s also “between you and me”.

I often wonder if people say “between you and I” because they think it sounds posher. Remember Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes who always referred to herself as “a girl like I”?  As if “between you and me” were a vulgar, gutter expression that “educated” people would not use. In fact, it’s the opposite. “Between you and I” is the product of Fowler’s “grammarless cavern”.

But it wasn’t always so.

Fowler reminds us that Shakespeare wrote:

Shakespeare who sometimes got grammar wrongAll debts are cleerd betweene you and I if I might but see you at my death
Merchant of Venice (Act 3, Sc 2)

but he also wrote:

There is further complement of leave-taking between France and him
King Lear (Act 1, Sc 1)

In any case, Merchant of Venice was written 400 hundred years ago. And, if challenged, Shakespeare could always say he was quoting a letter written by a character (Antonio) whose grammar was not of the most educated.

Pedantique-Ryter Tip #1 : Between You and I?

For modern writers, there is no ambiguity. “Between you and I” is always, ALWAYS, wrong.
Correct current English is “between you and me”. Always and only.

Sneaky writer’s tip And if you’re caught out doing it wrong, use the Shakespeare defence and maintain that it was your character’s ill-educated usage, not yours ♥

With he and I? After he or I? Around he and I?

Pick any preposition you like — before, after, with, between, in, on, around, by… — and the rule is the same. It applies to all the pronouns (I/me, you/you, he/him, she/her, we/us, they/them). It’s correct to write:
With him and me. After him or me. Around him and me.

question mark : him and me or he and I?If you’re not convinced, try taking out the words “and I”, “or I”. Would you say…
With he. After he. Around he.
I hope not.
You would say:
With him. After him. Around him.
Also: With / after / around me.

So when you put them together, you keep the same words:
With him and me. After him or me. Around him and me.

Pedantique-Ryter Tip #2 : With he and I? For he and I?

When you’re trying to decide whether to use I/me, she/her, etc in a double phrase like for he and I, take out the red-herring words like “he and”, or “and I” and you’ll immediately know which words to use. It’s ALWAYS correct to use the object form (him, her, etc).

Better than me? As good as I?

Sadly there are almost always cases in English grammar where the answer is less clear. So it is with than and as.
The difficulty arises because both words can be conjunctions or prepositions.

description better than I or better than me?1   Jenny writes better descriptive passages than me.
2   Jenny writes better descriptive passages than I do.
3   Jenny writes better descriptive passages than I. [“do” understood]
4   Jenny writes description as well as me.

5   Jenny writes description as well as I do.
6   Jenny writes description as well as I.
(“do” understood]

All the examples are correct 😉
In examples 1 and 4, than and as are prepositions. In examples 2, 3, 5 and 6, they’re conjunctions.

You probably felt that examples 3 and 6 sounded pompous. And so they do.

Pedantique-Ryter Tip #3 : Better than me? As good as I?

In formal writing — your thesis, your letter to your pedant godmother — it’s a good idea to go for the fuller version with the extra verb (examples 2 and 5) because it’s always correct. If you go for the shorter version on the model of examples 1 and 4, your pedant godmother may conclude your English is not up to the mark. She may even tell you, while rewriting her will to cut you out, that you should have written “Jenny writes description as well as I” because the verb “do” is understood. You’d be wise to avoid arguments with pedant godmothers, especially if you have hopes of being remembered in that pesky will.

Thank You from me, I Pedantique-RyterFor everyone else, and in speech, stick to “better than me” or “as good as me” because “better than I” sounds pompous, however correct your average pedant may declare it to be.

More writing tips soon.

I. Pedantique-Ryter


Pedantique-Ryter’s Don’t-Need-To-Read Geeknotes #4

I wwnt more geeknotes from I Pedantique-RyterBetween is a preposition, ie a word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element. After a preposition, the objective form of a pronoun (= me, you, him, her, us, them) must always be used. It’s especially important when two pronouns are linked by and or or.

conjunction is a word that connects clauses or sentences or words. Common conjunctions include: and, but, because, for, though, as, or. But you already knew all that, didn’t you?

Creating Atmosphere : British India Comes Alive

Atmosphere : unspoken unease and menace

At Sophie’s prompting, I’ve recently been reading a new (to me) crime writer, Barbara Cleverly   (a writer who only just missed the cut for 12 days of Christmas). Cleverly’s first 4 books are set in India in the 1920s, after the horrors of the First World War (which haunts many of her characters) but while the British Empire still rules.

Atmosphere: Last Kashmiri Rose coveratmosphere : ragtime in simla coveratmosphere : damascened blade cover

What stayed with me, apart from her genius for plotting, was the atmosphere she created for her pre-independence India — an underlying feeling of unease, even menace.

Cleverly’s British Raj is like a thin and very fragile glass lid on a huge cauldron of broth. Readers can see through the lid to the liquid below. Not quite boiling yet, but with the occasional large bubble forcing its way through the shimmering and (apparently) serene surface. As readers, we sense that it wouldn’t take very much to crack through that flimsy lid from below. Continue reading

Day 13 of 12 Days of Christmas : Was It Worth It?

Day 13 calendarDay 13

It sounds like a horror movie, doesn’t it? Sort of the reverse of the Seventh Day, when you’re supposed to rest. More 21st century urban nightmare than traditional Christmas. (Indeed, the IMdB data base does list a move called DAY 13 filmed in 2017. But that’s about all it says.)


editing sequence actionsWell, Mr True Love, would you say that you succeeded in implementing your ideas?

Did you achieve your goals?

Did the project fully solve the problem it was designed to address?

Can you take things further (further?!) to deliver bigger benefits in the future? (Yikes!) Continue reading

Day 12 of 12 Days of Christmas : 12 Drummers Drumming & Play

Day 12 drum kitIf you needed any more evidence that True Love has lost the plot Day 12 will do it.  He’s now throwing 12 drummers drumming into the mix. Assuming they enter Stage Left and advance, drumming, that sounds pretty much like a declaration of war to me, if not the start of the battle.

Of course, the recipient may be a fan of heavy metal or other modern music making. In which case the drummers presumably just roll up on a milk float, or similar, sitting in the middle of their drum kit.

Welcome new arrivals, you think? Continue reading

Day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas : 11 Pipers Piping & Ratty

By Day 11 Mr True Love has lurched from sweetly metaphorical, or at least agriculturally productive, through the dangerous combination of entertainment and aristocracy into full-blown martial mode. He’s sending eleven pipers to do his wooing business.

Day 11 Pipers pipingNow they could be playing the bagpipes. It’s the time of year for it.

In Scotland pipers are booked up years in advance for both New Year parties and Burns’ Night celebrations on (or about — because they often slip to Saturday night with its attendant recovery period) 25th January.

But eleven bagpipes? Well maybe, if you’re advancing on the field of battle. But as a token of a chap’s respect and affection? Um. Continue reading

Day 10 of 12 Days of Christmas : 10 Lords a-Leaping & Wimsey

Day 10 lordsBy Day 10, the deranged True Love is sending along an almost football team of male aristocrats engaged in unlikely gymnastics. Were I the recipient I would go away pretty sharpish, not leaving a forwarding address.

The British 1970s Christmas stamp depicting these Lords (and yesterday’s Ladies) is chilling. At least, I think so. Continue reading

Day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas : 9 Ladies Dancing & Joanna

Day 9 ladies and lordsBy Day 9, Mr True Love has gone into the entertainment business. (It is a role he will continue for the rest of the holiday.)  He presents our heroine with nine ladies dancing.

You may think, as I do, that this is an odd choice. Frankly, it sounds more like a stag do than a gift to the beloved. Surely it would have been more alluring if he’d invited the object of his affections to dance with him?

Hasn’t he seen Strictly Come Dancing, for Heaven’s sake? (That’s Dancing With the Stars,  if you’re across the Pond.) Continue reading

Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas : 8 Maids a-Milking & Heyer

By Day 8, the True Love is getting more ambitious and, frankly, a bit cracked.

Today’s gift embraces both livestock and human trafficking. This is seriously dodgy territory now. He’s clearly into all things quaint, traditional and with just a hint of the Good Old Days. Maybe even Heritage.

I feel we’re beginning to detect some disturbing undercurrents in these so-called gifts. Are they not just another way of tying his Beloved to endless cleaning and animal husbandry? Only now she’ll have staff to placate as well. Not a good outlook. Continue reading

Day 7 of 12 Days of Christmas : 7 Swans a-Swimming & Company

swan and cygnets swimmingAt least our heroine’s True Love has shifted from domestic to wild birds with the Day 7 offering. And not just a wild bird but a truly beautiful one, with mythological and poetic pedigree to boot.

The swan is one of the creatures that mates for life, according to legend and, to some extent, ornithological observation. (Not 100%, apparently; but a significant percentage of couples stick together.)

Allegedly it also sings only once, at the point of death – hence the exquisitely mournful Orlando Gibbons motet 

So at last we have here a gift with real subtext: love, loyalty and death. Not that jolly maybe. But certainly romantic. Hmm. Possibly a bit late, given the bird shit that must be surrounding his lady love’s residence by now. Continue reading

Day 6 of 12 Days of Christmas : 6 Geese a-Laying & Paul Gallico

Day 6 goose stamp 1977Day 6 and that obsessive True Love is back in the poultry groove again. At least this time they are laying, so the eggs can be sold.

Though goose eggs are large and very rich and not to everyone’s taste. Possibly not an easy sell. Or even give away.

And they’re very noisy, geese. Better than guard dogs some people say. And they can be aggressive.

Sigh. Continue reading