EZ Grammar Guide: Why "Between You and I" is a Big Mistake

EZ Grammar Guide to understanding \"between... you and me.\" Understanding prepositional phrases beginning with \"between.\"

Just between you and me, a really bad error in English is all caused by the word “between.”

For some unknown reason, lots of people want to say: between you and I… between she and I… between me and him… between he and I… all of these are, of course, WRONG.

And, it’s so easy to get these right. Let’s look.

The word “between” is a preposition. A preposition is a word like: in, of, on, about, after, - and a lot more. A prepositional phrase is like the following: in the store, of my own, on the bus, etc.

Sorry for getting technical, but it gets easy soon.

So, “between” is a preposition. That means it starts a prepositional phrase. For instance: I got a flat tire between here and the office. “Between here and the office” is the phrase.

Now, everybody knows the difference between personal pronouns, right?

SUBJECT   OBJECT

I                  me

you             you

he, she, it   him, her, it

we              us

you            you

they          them

Prepositions are followed by “objects. Never “subjects.”

There you have it. It’s that easy.

You can’t say:

between you and I          say… between you and me

between she and I          say… between her and me

between they and me     say… between them and me

between he and I            say… between him and me

between he and she       say… between him and her

Get it? No subjects. Always objects. No exceptions.

Now a word about manners. This is not really a grammar rule, but one of traditional manners. Just as it’s polite to hold a door open for someone else, in a prepositional phrase, put the other person first, then yourself.

Don’t say:

between me and her          say… between her an me (the other person comes first, you last)

between me and them        say… between them and me

Make sense? Now you just have to practice.

Which sentences contain a “between” error?

1. Just between you and me, Richard didn’t care.

2. He asked that the work be divided between she and Henry.

3. The Pope called for peace between us and them.

4. A treaty between the French and them was signed.

5. Among all of us, I think the most work was done between she and I.

Sentences 2 and 5 are incorrect. Sentence 3 should read “between them and us,” placing the other party before ourselves.

EZ Grammar Guide is meant to be a non-technical, easy explanation of common errors found in written English.

© 2010 EZ Grammar Guide by David Sullivan

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