Granny Grammar Me and You
Me and you … You and me, you and I, my sister and I, me and my brother.
Also: her and him, him and I, we girls, us girls, and “one”.
Oh dear. What a lot of difficulties there are when talking about people – especially when more than one person is involved.
Do you say: “Him and I are going out”?
Do you say: “Mother gave it to my brother and I”?
Do you say: “Me and him, we are going out”?
Let’s look at the first example: who is going out? For a start, I am, and “he” is too – not “him”. So just put the two correct references together. “He and I are going out” is correct. It is the convention that you put yourself second to be polite, but “I and he are going out” sounds clumsy anyway.
The second example might sound correct, but should you always refer to yourself as “I”? No! If Mother denied your brother whatever-it-was she gave, you wouldn’t say “Mother gave it to I”, you would say “Mother gave it to me”. So why alter how you refer to yourself just because you had to share something with your brother? If in doubt, remove the other person and it all becomes more straightforward.
Bearing that in mind, the third example is also wrong. You wouldn’t say “Me is going out” or “Me are going out”, would you? Neither would you say, “Him is/are going out”. So the correct way to say it is “He and I are going out”.
Do you say: “Us girls are going out”?
Who is going out? We are. “We girls are going out.”
Do you say: “There is a box of chocolates for we boys”?
Chocolates for who? For us. “There is a box of chocolates for us boys.”
Do you say: “However long the sentence, us old lags who have done prison before can cope”?
Who can cope? Us can cope? I think not! We can cope.
To make sure, just get rid of the qualifying words (girls, boys, and old lags who have done it before) and it becomes more straightforward.
“When one falls off one’s horse…” is the example most often quoted to ridicule people for using the word “one”. I believe it was originally uttered by royalty, but there is a misconception that using the word “one” is an attempt at being posh. However, it is actually is a short way of saying “anyone” and is opposite to “no one”.
So “No one really likes eating worms,” is correct because it refers to people in general. Therefore, “If one eats worms, one will not come to any harm,” is also perfectly correct and in no way regal or posh – it just means that anyone daft enough to eat worms will survive.
“One should not eat worms.” That means anyone: me, you, the Queen and everyone else.
Next time: Dickens was wrong!