Sort your grammar out, Prince Charles

Prince Charles made a toe-curlingly awful error in a speech he made in Pakistan yesterday.
He introduced the talk saying that it was a pleasure ‘for my wife and I’ to be in Pakistan. He should have said ‘for my wife and me’.
I blame Aussie soap Neighbours for introducing this common error into daily British conversation in the mid 80s. I’m sure people never used to say ‘between you and I’, ‘give it to him and I’ and suchlike before Todd, Codey, Madge and Lou started to.

11 Responses to “Sort your grammar out, Prince Charles”

  1. John Says:

    According to Merriam-Webster, the usage of “between you and I” goes back 150 years.

  2. Reg Says:

    Doesn’t make it correct though, does it? Would you say ‘it’s a pleasure for ‘I’ to be in Pakistan? No you would not, or at least, I hope not. Therefore, you don’t say the same with ‘my wife and I’. Simple!

  3. John Says:

    I’m not saying it’s correct, I’m just saying the situation might be more complicated that you think.

  4. John Says:

    I’m not saying it’s correct, I’m just saying the situation might be more complicated that you think.

  5. Chris Saul Says:

    I still blame Neighbours πŸ™‚

  6. Stuart J. Saul Says:

    Precisely!….it’s wrong. Stamp on it! Sadly the BBC even slips up now and then. It’s got nothing to do with being “more complicated”. It’s unnecessary and it’s wrong, and it’s sloppy thinking. Shape up, wise up, and stop watching Neighbours. Are you sure that Webster was not perhaps refering to something like “You and I may think that…..” This is correct. Sadly, in this case we tend to hear “You and me may think…” Arrgghh!

  7. John Says:

    No, I think it is too complicated to make a pronouncement that’s incorrect always, all the time, in all contexts.
    Since “between you and I” goes back at least 150 years, it can’t be blamed on Neighbours or modern media. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage is definitely talking about “between you and I”, and they trace its beginnings to Late Modern English – 150 or 160 years ago.
    If it really was ungrammatical, we would not expect it to have lasted this long.
    The fact that people say “between you and I”, “for my wife and I” in normal conversation, but NOT “between I” and “for I”, suggests that the former is more acceptable than the latter. Saying that one is unacceptable because the other is unacceptable doesn’t make much sense.
    It is not evidence of “sloppy thinking”; there is no evidence that thought influences language in this way.
    I’m not saying it’s “correct” in formal writing, but there is evidence that it is acceptable in casual conversation.

  8. Chris Says:

    I think you’re being too accepting and nice John πŸ™‚
    Granted, language is fluid and you can argue that there are no rules – what’s right may simply be whatever someone happens to say as language is a human concept and is always evolving.
    Grammar may be artificial, but it gives our language standards that mean people can communicate. Without standards, people across different cultures and different backgrounds don’t have a fixed point to allow them to exchange ideas and express themeselves with clarity. Whatever people say at home is fine by me, but ‘for my wife and I’ to be used by someone like Prince Charles ,who has to speak a standard English in order to communicate with millions of English speakers across the world, is just plain wrong.

  9. Chris Says:

    I think you’re being too accepting and nice John πŸ™‚
    Granted, language is fluid and you can argue that there are no rules – what’s right may simply be whatever someone happens to say as language is a human concept and is always evolving.
    Grammar may be artificial, but it gives our language standards that mean people can communicate. Without standards, people across different cultures and different backgrounds don’t have a fixed point to allow them to exchange ideas and express themeselves with clarity. Whatever people say at home is fine by me, but ‘for my wife and I’ to be used by someone like Prince Charles ,who has to speak a standard English in order to communicate with millions of English speakers across the world, is just plain wrong.

  10. John Says:

    All languages and dialects have rules. I would never claim that there are no rules. However, to find out what the rules are, you have to look at the facts. The fact is that this particular usage is common and often goes unremarked. While something like “for I” is definitely in violation of the rules.

    On the other hand, some people get really upset by “for my wife and I”, so you have to consider your audience when you use it. But I find it hard to believe that it could cause any confusion or breakdown in comprehension.

  11. John Says:

    Actually, I have no idea how common or unremarked it is, so never mind that. But I’m sure it’s more common and more unremarked that “for I”.

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