|My mother (left). Point proved, I think|
Take Polly Toynbee, a contentious writer for The Guardian on social issues:
Oiks from council estates … are all being paid too much. Even more than you or I in the well-paid commentariat, for God’s sake!Yes, the well-enough-paid commentariat to write properly.
Or how about Jon Anderson, whose lyrics for Yes are unashamedly pretentious (“Dawn of light lying between a silence and sold sources / Cashed amid fusions of wonder, in moments hardly seen forgotten”) and therefore mark him out as someone who is very careful about language and probably a few other things as well. Yes, I know the band was trying to be a bit more down-to-earth in 1983 than in the days of Tales From Topographic Oceans, but that’s not a good enough reason to write:
rhymed ‘marathon’ with ‘parallelogram’. But look at Neil Peart of Rush, an obsessively careful lyricist, making a similar mistake in a couplet that ironically gives a clue on how to get it right:
Just between us, I think it’s time for us to realize
The spaces in between leave room for you and I to grow
Peart doesn’t have the excuse of needing a rhyme. ‘Me’ would fit the metre of the song perfectly well, but he’s got it wrong and his singer Geddy Lee has now had to get it wrong on stage every night for the past 31 years. It hasn’t stopped me buying their albums, but I always skip Peart’s drum solos in protest. That, and the fact that I hate drum solos.
Many people seem to think that the rule on cases only applies when the pronoun immediately follows the preposition (or verb, or whatever), as when a highly literate friend of mine wrote an email to me saying, “Count John and I in,” and justified it by saying, “I said John and I in, not me and John.” She accepted the correction eventually. We're even still on speaking terms, although John turned out to be an ordinary bloke and not a count at all.
The preposition ‘between’ takes the accusative case (as does the conjunctive participle ‘than’), which is why Peart wrote “between us” in the preceding line, not “between we”. You wouldn’t write “between I and she” and nor would Neil Peart, who, despite being a rock star and a drummer, has been scientifically proven to be literate with an IQ in at least triple figures.
Moral: The word ‘and’ does not break the link with the preposition or verb on which a pronoun depends. It’s ‘between you and me’. Take heed from my mother and don’t get it wrong again.