Before I leave the house this morning I want to begin a new blog. I'll get back to it later. But in reading the beginning of a newly published novel I was jarred by this unnecessary grammatical error which I'll disguise slightly. I don't want to embarrass the author; she has a tough enough road ahead of her as we all do.
But why does an otherwise competent writer end a sentence with "... between George and I."? Is this error immediately obvious to you? Must we today explain the rule my generation learned no later than the fourth grade? Object of the preposition and all that?
(Okay, I'm back.) Ray Bradbury once received a letter from an adult who had decided he'd like to be a writer, but, the prospect stated, he didn't know grammar, wasn't good at spelling and didn't understand punctuation. Bradbury told him in a kindly way I can't recall, Sorry, pal, you're not a writer. I wouldn't be so harsh based on a single grammatical error but a writer shouldn't be averse to brushing up, reviewing the old rules. The rules are rooted in logic and we have a young audience that isn't being taught this logic in their schools so they might be depending on us.
Obviously, we who write fiction need to break from formality to create realistic dialog that suits the character, nods to vernacular or simply maintains a chosen style. But if we don't know which rules we're breaking how can we return to formal grammar and usage when it's called for? One young writer told me, "I don't strive for grammatical, I strive for colloquial." Well, I don't think colloquial requires much striving. It comes naturally to all of us.
With all of the above established, if I were asked what I consider the most common error among people who do "strive for grammatical" it would be "between you and I" and its variants such as "...between George and I". One person who I know to be skilled in the use of English, when I raised the issue of "between you and I" said, "it sounds right but it's not." I was stunned that she thought it sounded right. I guess this is due to the conditioning of the modern ear because it never sounded right to me. It jars. I flinch at it as at the odor of Limburger.
Maybe, as the estimable June Casagrande would state, I'm one of those Great Big Meanies, but, how hard is it, really, to change a thought, a belief that doesn't hold up? For decades some people have believed in the truth of "between you and I". I'm sorry. It's wrong!
Arguments such as this usually go unheard no matter how loudly we advocates shout. But in my dreamer's heart I'd like to believe I've gained a convert or two. Try it. Write it. Say it out loud. Between you and me... Painless. Right?