Television is ruining America! That’s not to say I don’t watch television – I do, and lots of it. You can’t judge TV unless you watch it. So what do you think I was doing on a lazy Sunday afternoon? I was slumped on the sofa like a wet noodle watching House Hunters (one of my faves). A lovely young, expecting couple was touring a prospective home for their growing family as I watched in vicarious enjoyment. I was right there with them until the house tour ended when wifey said, “It just seems a little to small for you and I.” Stop! Did she just say that?
Unfortunately, incorrect usages of “you and I” and “you and me” are far too common in television and it spills over into real life. I’ve heard the same mistake being uttered on countless shows, including a very recent episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. I’ve also heard it in real life on trains, busses, and in restaurants. “You and I” seems to be the words of choice among the culprits. I assume it’s because it sounds more romantic than “you and me,” but when it is used incorrectly it just sounds stupid! So how do you know when to use “you and I” versus “you and me”?
The easiest way to determine whether to use “you and me” or “you and I” is to separate the you and the I and break the sentence into two separate ones:
- “It just seems a little too small for you and I.”
- “It just seems a little too small for you.”
- “It just seems a little too small for I.”
See what happened there? “It just seems a little too small for I,” is completely incorrect! “It just seems a little too small for me,” would be the correct choice. Therefore, you can now compress the two sentences into one with grammatical correctness: “It just seems a little too small for you and me.”
Let’s say you were supposed to go on a double date with your boyfriend and your colleague, Harry, and his boyfriend, Larry, and at the last minute your colleague texts you saying Fluffy coughed up a massive hairball on their silk-upholstered vintage chaise lounge and they must spend the evening rescuing it from ruin. You turn to your boyfriend and say, “Larry and Harry cancelled. It’s going to be just you and I, babe!” Before you read further, break down that last sentence into two separate ones and write them down (or do it in your head).
- “It’s just going to be you and I, babe!”
- “It’s just going to be you, babe!”
- “It’s just going to be I, babe!”
Here, “you and I” doesn’t seem so romantic anymore – it’s stupid! “It’s just going to be me, babe!” would be the correct choice. Therefore, you can put the sentences back together and correctly say, “It’s just going to be you and me, babe!”
Whenever you’re in doubt about using “you and me” or “you and I” just break your sentence in two. It works the same way in speech and in writing. If you’ve already used one or the other incorrectly, recognize your mistake, learn from it, and correct it. Practice! There is only one exception to the rule- only when you are quoting someone else’s incorrect usage or you are writing a creative piece in which your character often speaks with grammatical errors. Don’t let that character be you!
Comments and suggestions are welcome because I’m always looking for improvement. If you see any typos or grammatical errors feel free to point them out and laugh.