Cracking Grammar: How to Properly Use ‘You and I’ and ‘You and me’

Cracking Grammar is for those of us who properly suck at grammar at times. And it isn’t so much that we’re bad at it, but the way grammar was explained to us wasn’t at all very child friendly. I actually don’t recall having much of an impression while learning English grammar and usage. It was all very monotonus; these are the rules and that’s that. For those of us who need tips and tricks to remembering all these Dos and Dont’s this ones for you.

‘You and I’ or ‘You and me’

Many of us are oblivious to the correct usage of ‘ You and I’ and ‘You and me’. I had actually come across this common problem on Facebook. A friend of mine was retelling a conversation she was having with her 4 year old. She had asked her what she had done that day and she responded ‘You and I went to the grocery store’. She had corrected her and said ‘No hunny, its ‘You and me went  to the grocery store” and felt proud enough to post the experience to the internet. There were people that ‘awwed’ and congratulated her on the moment but I was having a migraine, something felt off. I ran to google to confirm, lo and behold the child was right!

I’m not going to give you the basic English teacher lecture on Grammar. I attempt always to find a way to crack the code and make the seemingly exhausting, simpler.

Look at the two sentences below:

You and I should see the Kiss concert next week.

You and me should see the Kiss concert next week.

Now, how do we tell which one is correct? The trick is to simply exclude the other participant or the ‘You’. The sentences would then read:

I should see the Kiss concert next week.

Me should see the Kiss concert next week.

Clearly ‘I’ in this case is the correct word.

Now these:

Joan mentioned you and I at her party.

Joan mentioned you and me at her party.

Break it down:

Joan mentioned I at her party.

Joan mentioned me at her party.

‘Me’ is correct.

Always simply exclude the other person and see if the sentence makes sense without them.

I hope with my help you’ve cracked the code. Good luck and Happy Writing!

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Learned VS Learnt

Working on my novel the other night brought this question to mind. My upbringing in terms of spelling and grammar was slightly confusing. In prep school they used and taught from the A Beka curriculum which included spelling and grammar. The issue which I later learnt when entering High School is that Jamaica uses the British spelling and grammar rules while A Beka was a U.S publication. Needless to say the rest of my life has been riddled with “misspellings” and even now my readers may note that I use both in my writing. Unintentionally of course.

I typed learnt into a document and it came up mispelt. My word processor is set to the U.S Language since I write for many clients who follow the U.S spelling and grammar rules. I know that this alteration in spelling and grammar by these two countries has confused quite a few of us.  Well here is FWJ to save the day.

LEARNED vs LEARNT

First off, this issue is purely a difference in how two regions spell this word. Therefore, both words are correct. But this purely depends on your assignment or where you are from.

THE VERB

Both words are the past tense of the verb LEARN which means:

1. Gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.

2. Commit to memory.

LEARNED when ended with ‘ED’ is American English.

LEARNT when ended with a ‘T’ is British English

THE ADJECTIVE

Both learned and learnt are alternative spellings of the past tense and past participle of the verb learn.

Learnt is more common in British English, and learned in American English.

English (as in Queen’s English):
learned“: a present participle that performs the role of an adjective by qualifying a following noun.
learnt“: a past participle that performs the role of a adjective by qualifying a noun.

These words will be participles only if used along with a helping verb, also called an auxiliary verb like “to be” or “to have”. If used without an auxiliary verb, there is a possibility that the word “learnt” is actually a verb and not a participle. This depends entirely upon the sentence structure.

Both these words are derived from the infinitive of the verb “to learn”. While “learned” refers to a current state of acquired knowledge of the accusative noun, in this case the the noun following the word “learned”; the word “learnt” refers to a past incident that caused the accusative noun to become aware of something or gain some knowledge.

Examples:
Stephen Hawkins is a learned man.” [present participle: “learned”; auxiliary verb: “is” (to be)]
I have learnt a lot of thing by attending this class.” [past participle: “learnt”; auxiliary verb: “have” (to have)]
I learnt about it last night.” [verb: “learnt”; auxiliary verb: none, not required, because “learnt” is a verb in it’s own right]

If the sentence “I learnt about it last night.” sounds confusing as to why “learnt” is a verb, try rephrasing it as “I did learn about it last night.“. Although there is a subtle difference between the two sentences, they convey the same meaning. (source)

OTHER WORDS

There are a few other words which follow this rule when used in the past tense. If you know of any more feel free to add them in the comment box.

burned, burnt
dreamed, dreamt
kneeled, knelt
leaned, leant
leaped, leapt
spelled, spelt
spilled, spilt
spoiled, spoilt

 

-FWJ

Word of the Week: Extenuate

WORD OF THE WEEK

extenuate

verb \ik-STEN-yuh-wayt\

: to lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of by making partial excuses : mitigate

: to lessen the strength or effect of

Examples

1. Don’t even try to extenuate their vandalism of the cemetery with the old refrain of “Boys will be boys.”

2. “At my university (as at others I’ve known), circumstances may extenuate plagiarism, but they never excuse it.” — From an article by Clifford Orwin in The Globe and Mail (Canada), June 15, 2011

Origin

“Extenuate” was borrowed into English in the 16th century from Latin “extenuatus,” the past participle of the verb “extenuare,” which was itself formed by combining “ex-” and the verb “tenuare,” meaning “to make thin.” In addition to the surviving senses, “extenuate” once meant “to make light of” and “to make thin or emaciated”; although those senses are now obsolete, the connection to “tenuare” can be traced somewhat more clearly through them. In addition, “extenuate” gave us the adjective “extenuatory,” meaning “tending to make less.”

 

Word of the Week: Harangue

I’ve decided to begin posting a word each week. I am constantly trying to broaden my vocabulary so much so that I even attempted to read the entire dictionary, learning 5 new words a day. That quickly dwindled along with my interest. Many writers tend to use the same set of words over and over again. Although we may have a vast vocabulary there are a few words, terms and phrases that are on the forefront of our minds. We may not realize it but after writing 10 articles on massage therapy the other day, I realized pretty quick how much my vocabulary needed work.

WORD OF THE WEEK

ha·rangue

noun \hə-ˈraŋ\

: a speech addressed to a public assembly
: a ranting speech or writing
:lecture

Examples

  1. He delivered a long harangue about the evils of popular culture.
  2. <launched into a long harangue about poor customer service without realizing that I wasn’t even an employee!>

Origin

Middle French arenge, from Old Italian aringa, from aringare to speak in public, from aringo public assembly, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German hringring

First Known Use: circa 1533

Related Words

diatribe, tirade, jeremiad, philippic, rant
(source: Merriam-Webster)