Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I have a grammarian ax to grind.

(Those who don't have an abnormal obsession with words and syntax should feel free to stop reading now.)

I have many pet peeves: people who drive for miles in the passing/turning lane without ever actually passing or turning, whistling in the workplace, telemarketers.

My biggest pet peeve, however, involves the incorrect use of pronouns after a preposition.

(Seriously, it's OK to stop reading.)

I happened across the prepositional phrase "between he and I" in a quote a few weeks ago during a night on the job.

I shuddered. Then I fumed.

It's wrong, as anyone who passed the second grade should know. It's also either self-important, as though the speaker feels he or she is above using the lowly words "him" and "me," or a sign of an inferiority complex, as if the speaker is concerned that others will think he or she is ignorant.

And such flagrantly incorrect grammar is ubiquitous in television and movies, only reinforcing its use.

To me, it's fingernails scraped across a chalkboard.

From the book "Woe Is I," Chapter 1 "Therapy for Pronoun Anxiety:"
I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the seeds of the I-versus-me problem are planted in early childhood. We're admonished to say, "I want a cookie," not "Me want a cookie." We begin to feel subconsciously that "I" is somehow more genteel than "me," even in cases where "me" is the right choice - for instance, after a preposition. Trying too hard to be right, we end up being wrong. Hypercorrectness rears its ugly head!

The book continues:
I can hear a chorus of voices shouting, Wait a minute! Doesn't Shakespeare use "I" after a preposition in "The Merchant of Venice?" Antonio tells Bassanio, "All debts are clear'd between you and I, if I might but see you at my death." That's true. But then, we're not Shakespeare.

Indeed we are not.


  1. People who do that don't know what their talking about.

  2. Oh, "Anonymous," you are such a card.

  3. Don't you mean, "Your such a card"?