Professional Style

Between you and I

January 2010
Spot the Error

Between you and I, the announcement of Ted’s promotion came as a surprise to everyone because no one in the department thinks Ted is capable of doing the job.

No matter how refined it may sound, the phrase between you and I is illiterate. It’s the same as saying between we, and that doesn’t sound right, does it?

Pronouns that follow between need to be in the objective case, not the nominative case. (CAUTION: Grammatical terms may cause your mental hard drive to become sluggish or freeze up. To maintain efficiency, erase these terms from your memory when you shut down. Your system will function just fine without them.)

  • Objective case (pronouns that may follow between) – me, you, him, her, them, and us.
  • Nominative case (pronouns that MAY NOT follow between) – I, you, he, she, they, and we.

Note that the pronoun you is listed in both cases above, so be sure to use the objective-case you when the pronoun follows between. (Just a little grammar-nerd humor there.)

Examples of correct usage are as follows:

The baseball rolled between her and him, and then bounced down the stairs.

If we divide the work between them and us, we should be finished in no time.

In the “promotion” sentence above, the correct wording is between you and me.

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