This little phrase causes a lot of confusion. You see it both ways so often, it’s hard to remember which one is correct and which one is incorrect. Thankfully, there’s an easy way it figure out once and for all!
The best way to learn which is the proper phrase is by essentially breaking down the function of each word in the phrase. That may sound daunting (or even boring) but stick with me and you’ll see why!
Between is a preposition in this phrase. You can tell this by two ways: 1) It shows the relationship or “position” of other nouns or pronouns in a sentence; 2) It is part of a prepositional phrase, which means it has an object or objects. (Note: between can also sometimes be an adverb, but then it would have no object).
You is a pronoun, the second person pronoun. It is both singular and plural. It can function as both a subject pronoun (the doer of the action) and an object pronoun (the direct or indirect object of an action or the object of a preposition).
I is a pronoun, the first person singular pronoun. It can ONLY function as a subject pronoun, one that does the action in the sentence; it is never an object.
Me is a pronoun, also a first person singular pronoun. It can ONLY function as an object pronoun, which means it can never do the action in the sentence; it can only be a direct or indirect object of an action or the object of a preposition).
“And” is a conjunction. It connects words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. In this case, it is connecting two pronouns so both words in the phrase must function the same (i.e. you can’t mix subject and object pronouns).
Now we have all the functions of the main words in the two phrases “between you and I” and “between you and me.” So which one is it? Remember, “between” is a preposition and prepositions are part of prepositional phrases. Pronouns following prepositions in such phrases are always object pronouns. Therefore, the pronoun you need is ME, so the correct phrase is “between you and me.”
This process may seem like a long and tedious for a basic phrase, but the same process works for more complex phrases and sentences. If you are unsure of what word to use, try breaking everything down and thinking about how each word is functioning. Words can often have multiple functions, which is why analyzing your phrase or sentence helps to get it right.
Remember, the correct phrase is always “BETWEEN YOU AND ME.”
Need help with pronouns or prepositions? Try GrammarPlanet — it’s FREE! www.grammarplanet.com