Saturday, April 21, 2012

Big Deal


"'Him and me', it's 'He gave the case to him and me.'", John mutters.

"What'd ya say?", asks Steve.

"Nothing. Never mind."

"No, I really want to know. What did you just say?"

"I said, 'He gave the case to him and me.' That's how you would say what you just said in English."

"That is what I said."

"No, you said, 'He gave the case to she and I.'"

"OK, so I said that. What's the big deal?"

"No big deal. It's just that you'd think after paying a hundred grand for two years of business school, they'd have at least insisted on your knowing remedial English."

"Look. In two years at HBS, not one person ever corrected my English. So, I don't see the problem."

"Well, would you ever say something like, 'Me and her are working on this big case?'"

"Of course not."

"Why not?"

"Because I'd sound like an uneducated idiot."

"What would say instead?"

"Uh... 'Her and I are...', no, 'She and I are working on this big case.'"

"Why would you say it that way."

"I already told you. I don't want to be perceived as an idiot. I'd want to use proper English grammar."

"But when you say something like, 'He gave the case to she and I', you're making the same mistake, just backwards."

"What are you talking about?"

"You remember sentences diagrams: you know, subject, verb, object, indirect object?"

"Uh... yeah, kind of."

"Well, in the one case you and she are the subjects; in the other you're the objects."

"Jeez, I don't have time to learn all that crap again."

"Well, then you might as well start using phrases like 'Her and me went to the store' and at least be consistent."

"Oh come on. It's not that bad."

"Depends on who's listening."

"I don't have time to learn all your silly English rules."

"OK"

"OK?"

"Yeah, OK."

"What, you don't care."

"Nope."

"But, you said I sound like an uneducated idiot."

"No, you said that. I just gave you an illustrative example of your misuse of grammar."

"But, I don't want to sound like an uneducated idiot."

"OK"

"OK?"

"Sure. You don't sound like an uneducated idiot to me. I know you spent $100K on business school."

"Yeah. I'm... Hey, wait a minute."

"What?"

"Well... hmm... isn't there an easy way for me to remember this one."

"Sure."

"Well what is it?"

"You really want to know?"

"Yeah, dammit. Would you just friggin' tell me."

"Just drop the other person from the sentence.  Use the pronoun you'd use when talking about just one person."

"For example..."

"For example, would you say, 'He gave the case to I' or would you say, 'He gave the case to me?'"

"He gave the case to me."

"Would you say, 'He gave the case to she' or would you say, 'He gave the case to her?'"

"He gave the case to her."

"There you have it.  What would you say if both of you were given the case?"

"He gave the case to...(mumble) her and... (mumble) me?"

"Yup."

"That's it."

"That's it."

"So why is this such a big deal?"

"It's not."

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