Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Between you and me, "between you and I" is annoying

Watching a TV show written by well-paid writers. TWICE tonight characters have said, "Between you and I." (Okay, with ONE it might be just a character who doesn't speak well. But there were two, and they were both attorneys, presumably educated. I think it's the writer, not the characters, who doesn't know how to talk.)

I understand that I'm approaching a very slippery slope, and if I keep getting cranky about things like that, I will pitch over that precipice and slide down to the bottom where I will become one of those who mutters and takes photos of signs with inappropriate apostrophes and posting them on Pinterest with scathing captions.

But really. Did no one on that TV set, esp the expensive writers, hear something off about "between you and I?"

If they'd pay me, I'd check their grammar. Heck, I'd do it for free.

Alicia walking up to the edge and peering over and thinking it doesn't look that steep


Ruth Harris said...

Alicia, couldn't agree more. Grates on me every time!

Julie Harrington said...

Ahhhh, I know that show! And you know, they've done it twice? Bugs me every time.


Callie said...

Ugh. Equally annoying is the car commercial claiming its vehicle has "less doors." (They must be very tiny)

Adrian said...

I'm pretty forgiving of realistic grammatical mistakes in dialogue or first-person narration. (I know more than one very well-educated person who says "antidote" instead of "anecdote".)

And using "you and I" instead of "you and me" actually indicates some education. You only learn about "you and I" when someone corrects you.

In my book, the first-person narrator correctly uses lay as the past-tense of lie, and multiple readers have reported it to me as a mistake. The mistake was making my narrator sound too erudite.

Wes said...

Since you brought up TV writers (he writes in a not so subtle attempt at slipping in another topic), which shows do you think have the best writing? I'm really drawn to NCIS and Castle. I'm fairly certain my interest is because of the characters which brngs up the issue of characters vs. plot.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

It really grates on me, too. It's like they think "you and I" sounds more intellectual, regardless of the other words around it in the sentence. It's as if they remember the lesson in first grade where they first learn "you and me" isn't always correct, but they forget that SOMETIMES it is.

And I am an inappropriate apostrophe kook already. Our HOA membership renewal form came with a survey this year. We were asked to sign up for volunteer committees in the community, and two of the groups were called "Lake Mom's" and "Lake Dad's." Lake Mom's WHAT? I didn't volunteer to join one of those groups, but I did offer my editorial services. I figure they're mailing this out to 11,000 homes, and it would be great if our community association appeared to be competent at third grade grammar.

*Waves hello from bottom of the slippery slope*

gj said...

The one that gets me these days is "laying low."

Last night on NCIS, the Tony character told someone to "lay low," and then later in the episode, another character (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) told someone to "lie low," and at the time I wondered how it was written and whether she, the actress, fixed it when doing the scene, or if it was actually written correctly (because her character was someone who would know the difference).

Maryannwrites said...

These kinds of annoying grammar mistakes are rampant in television and film. It's like nobody stops to check those pesky little details. I'm with you in soon turning so cranky about this nobody will want to be around me. LOL

Alicia said...

For a while, I was writing to the networks to complain about grammar.

Then I realized they probably thought I was a nut. And maybe they were right. :)

Anonymous said...

Adrian, I know lots of attorneys. (Married to one.) And the ones at the elite law firms don't think "between you and I" is educated.

Nope. It's the supposed writers of the show, not the characters, who are wrong. Two different characters...no, it's not individual character voice that is happening here.

How did you make it in yours so that the readers weren't thinking you were making a grammar mistake? What works?

I think one thing-- this can't be the ONLY mistake the character makes. If his voice is lay instead of lie, then it's probably also got some other lapses?

Nonna said...

The one that drives me crazy is "more or most 'importantly.'" More important, is an introductory what used to be called a parenthetical. The "ly" ending is for adverbs properly used to "modify" verbs, adjectives or other adverbs." Unfortunately, this mistake is becoming ubiquitous. I always credit the intelligence of those who use the proper from and feel less confidence in those who insist on "more importantly."

Adrian said...

@Anonymous: I think you're being overly sensitive because you're a writer/editor.

This is a very, very common error in the wild. The fact that two different characters make the same mistake does not seem unusual to me, at all.

I work with highly educated people who don't know the difference between "setup" and "set up", who repeatedly use abominations like "emails" and "feedbacks" (plural nouns), who use the word "ask" as a noun.

Real life dialogue is sloppy, even among those who know better.

Before you've been taught, you say "you and me". Many of those times, you say it as a compound subject, which is wrong. After being corrected a zillion times by teachers and parents, you instinctively say "you and I" all the time--even when it's wrong. That's what I meant about some education. Only when you've taken your education to the next level, do you learn about subjects and objects and their effect on pronoun selection. But only some of those people actually make the effort when speaking. I'd guess that, in real life, most people incorrectly use "between you and I" most of the time. Though it sounds wrong, it's not a particular affectation I'd expect from only one character in a story.

There's also the possibility that the second character was emulating the first, in order to build rapport.

Zella Rees said...

Except proper grammar really only needs to apply to formal writing. Not everyone, even educated people, uses proper grammar when they talk. And if they did, everyone would sound stilted. It bothers me when people make obvious mistakes, like "we was" or "ain't" but other than that, it isn't a big issue, and perhaps the writer knows what they're doing and making realistic dialogue where perhaps the characters are flawed and don't know every rule of grammar.

Edittorrent said...

Nonna, I'm wondering, do you think "most importantly" is like "hopefully?" That's another thing that ticks us sticklers off. But I think you're saying that they're making it an adverb when it should be an adjective. Hmm. I'm going to have to cogitate on that, because I think it's a great puzzle! Why does that happen?