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?

Halloween imports we could do without? A Damely rant

fireworks for halloween and bonfire night

Bonfire night and Halloween will be over by the time you read this. [And yes, I do know that the proper spelling is Hallowe’en, but the internet doesn’t cope well with apostrophes, so I’ve had to use the non-apostrophe spelling variant.]

Bonfire night, for all its somewhat gory associations, is at least a British tradition.

But Halloween? That Trick Or Treat abomination that seems to be everywhere? Rant time. 
halloween, trick or treater

By Don Scarborough (family photo) CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

A classic American Trick-or-Treater. Note that huge bag for the haul of goodies. Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter: Less is More. Or Is It Fewer?

Less? Or fewer? This Pedantique-Ryter post is dedicated to that Disgusted of Chelsea (no names, no pack drill) who had this exchange on Twitter recently, after shopping in Marks & Spencer:

exclamation mark in fire for less or fewerDisgusted of Chelsea:
My faith in @marksandspencer is shattered, I tell you, shattered. Their ad at checkout:
“Less worries. More sandcastles.” AAAARGGH.
Is there anything we can do to help?
Very kind but am in shock. Civilisation tottering.
Ideally change wording to “fewer worries” or “less worry”?
Probably not cost effective?
We’re sorry you don’t feel we’ve got our ad right.
We’ll share your comments with the team. Thanks
It’s like a needle under a nail to me.
Team could try Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage?

Civilisation tottering? Well, maybe DoC’s irony went a bit far there, but Pedantique-Ryter admits to feeling the needle under the nail, too.
Fewer? Less? Are they interchangeable? If not, how and when should they be used?
Read on to find out the Pedantique-Ryter answer. Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek

Do you use exclamation marks? Often? Maybe too often??!!!

pen in razor shape, text critic, for exclamation marksSome readers HATE exclamation marks

Exclamation marks used to be all the rage. Once.

But tastes change and, nowadays, some readers count exclamation marks and scream abuse on all the social media platforms if they think an author has used too many. Quite a few of my clients — including bestselling authors — have suffered at the hands of the exclamation mark police. And many have sworn, as a result, never to use an exclamation mark again.

Ever. Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter: may or might?

May or might? Many writers (and journalists who should definitely know better) have been flummoxed by that one. It seems, increasingly, that may is used all the time, even when it’s actually wrong.

Queen Elizabeth with Mounties. Who may or might she have married?Try this for size:


The Queen may have married someone other than Prince Phillip.

Stressed Woman Pulling Her Hair


Right? Or wrong? Or something in between? Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter: who or whom?

Last time, I gave you four whom examples from the sainted Georgette Heyer. I said the number of mistakes was somewhere between zero and four.

And the answer? ONE. But which one? And why? Read on to find out.

Do I have to use Whom in written English?

who or whom in written English can matterWritten material can pose difficult questions. If you’re emailing your mates, no one will care. If you’re writing your thesis or a letter to the pedantic godmother who will (you hope) leave you money in her will, you probably don’t want to make mistakes. They could distract your reader from what really matters, like giving you the top marks you deserve. So follow my tips if you want to be sure you can get it right when it matters. Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter: English Daftisms

Occasional Writing Tips from Dame Isadora Pedantique-Ryter :
#2 English Daftisms: Do I practise in my practice?

Of course, as I type this, the spell-checker — in American English — is giving me a loud red underline to tell me that practise is wrong.

star prize for English daftisms?Well, no. Not in British English it’s not. And, funnily enough, on this side of the pond we tend to think that English is OUR language and that Brits make the rules and get the shiny star.

If pushed, though, Brits would usually admit that some British English is plain daft.

I’d say that the distinction between practise and practice is one of those daftisms. I’d add that license and licence are daftisms, too. (“Daftism” is one of my own words, by the way, a Pedantique-Ryterism! It can’t be any dafter than practise/practice.)

American English is much more sensible on this kind of distinction and just uses practice/licence all the time. That being so, American visitors are at liberty to skip to the puzzle at the end — unless, of course, they’d like to have a laugh at the daftness of Brits. If so, feel free to read on.

English daftisms: when is it S and when is it C?

Continue reading

Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter

grocers apostrophe

Occasional Writing Tips from Dame Isadora Pedantique-Ryter : #1 The Apostrofly

The apostrofly is a nasty but industrious little insect. She can lay her eggs almost anywhere — she’s not picky about nest sites, though she is rumoured to be fond of the greengrocer’s veg display — and her eggs hatch out into little black maggots that try to crawl all over a writer’s perfect pages.

apostroflee beats apostrofly


There is, sadly, no easy solution. Wouldn’t it be great if we could use a can of insecticide and kill them all off?

One quick spritz of Miracle Apostroflee and all the incorrect apostrophes disappear from the page while any missing ones are inserted in exactly the right places.



Not a chance. Continue reading