Help! Grammar Man!

grammar-manWanted: Stephani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, 5’1″, 125lbs. Last seen wearing clown-like make-up and an outfit made entirely out of red meat. If she’s discovered while composing lyrics, she should be considered armed and dangerous. This is a job for … Grammar Man!

The Case of Ghastly Gaga Grammar

In today’s episode our hero has been called upon to right the world in the wake of Lady Gaga’s repeated pronoun abuses. Teens everywhere are being brainwashed. You and me? You and I? You and me and I, oh my! Help! Grammar Man!

Consider Gaga’s 2009 smash hit Bad Romance. The line that serves up the song’s title reads, “You and me could write a bad romance.” Could they really? But the faux pas don’t end there. Consider next her 2011 single You & I. Though she tried to cleverly couch her grammar gaff amidst samples of legendary rock band Queen’s mega hit We Will Rock You, the lyric repeatedly includes the line “You and I, You and I, Something about you and I.” Uh, no.

Grammatically speaking, the respective lines should read “You and I could write a bad romance” and “You and me … something about you and me.” Shame on you, Gaga! Shame. On. You.

To be fair, I acknowledge that sometimes we struggle with when to use ‘me’ and when to use ‘I’ because a well-meaning teacher, parent or do-gooder scolded a correction at us, “Not you and me! It’s you and I.” Uh, perhaps. Don’t allow correctional certitude to trump proper grammartude (that’s a made up word, but Grammar Man reserves the right to make up words while in the act of fighting for literacy).

Me or I? Grammar Man has a very easy little trick to help assure you never get this wrong again. Are you ready for this? Wait for it. … Wait some more. …Just a little longer. … (I know. Grammar Man is being annoying now.)

Simply take the ‘you and’ out of the sentence and you will never get this wrong again. An example? ‘You and me should listen to Lady Gaga’ or ‘You and I should listen to Lady Gaga’? Technically, neither of us should listen to Lady Gaga, we’ll come away grammatically dumber for the experience. But if we’re choosing between the two sentences, drop the ‘you and’ — Would you say ‘me should listen to’ or ‘I should listen to’? Voila! You got it.

Another? ‘Lady Gaga invited you and I backstage’ or ‘Lady Gaga invited you and me backstage’ — which one is correct? Your turn. I’ll wait. … Still waiting. … If you said ‘me’ than you’re on your way to the head of the class. And worth noting: I just used you’re and your in the same sentence–another couple of words that are frequently tangled and mangled. Perhaps another case for … Grammar Man!

Tune in next time when Grammar Man sets out to help waiters and waitresses everywhere avoid embarrassment.

Can you think of other common word or punctuation errors that trouble society? Trouble you, personally?

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