Slang dunk

Here’s a little quiz. In Paul Simon’s song, is “Me and Julio down by the school yard” grammatically correct? The answer: It depends.

This isn’t a post about song lyrics peppered with poor grammar; we’ve already covered that. But let’s take a lesson from me and Julio.

It’s frustrating for us wordies to stand by and witness blatantly bad grammar sliding by as accepted slang. Where are the authorities?

Many parents have given up on correcting children who say “Me and Brittany are going to the mall.” No one is around to apprehend young adults, having graduated from prestigious universities, who say “Me and Justin went out last night.” It seems a lost cause, gone the way of “where are you at?”

That’s because such horrendous violations have gone colloquial. They’re trendy. They’re socially accepted. Some may think they’re cute, but they’re wrong and no one’s doing anything about it.

Assuming anyone cared enough to take this on as a cause, there’s one caution–let’s be careful not to allow history to repeat itself. Many of us learned long ago that “me and [anyone]” is wrong. The truth is that it’s wrong only half of the time. The problem is that some people who took this lesson literally as children are now committing an equally egregious violation as adults. Just as “Me and Brittany went to the mall” is incorrect, so is “She sent the invitation to John and I.” (“Me” is the object and “I” is the subject; it’s that easy.)

I’d like to issue three simple pleas to parents: One, don’t let your babies of whatever age get away with beginning a sentence with “Me and…” Two, don’t let your babies believe that “me” is inherently bad. Three, take the time to teach your children the difference between subjective (or nominative) and objective pronouns. I’d rather hear a kid say, “My Mom took me and Brittany to the mall” (which is technically correct) than “My Mom took Brittany and I to the mall,” which is not.

Still confused? That’s okay. Here’s a place to start if you need a primer. 

Just between you and me, in the context of the song, I think “me and Julio” is correct. We’ll discuss why in the comments, if need be.

8 Comments

Filed under All Things Wordish

8 responses to “Slang dunk

  1. Another language lover

    Agree, agree, agree!! And what do you think about this: “See the below article:…” I always thought “below” was an adverb or preposition, not an adjective, but this usage seems to be the rule, at least in our office. Have you run into it too and do you hate it, or am I off base??

  2. Deidra Darsa

    When I hear someone use “at” at the end of a sentence I want to shake them.

  3. Just consider “me and X” as Wenglish – Welsh English. They’ve been doing it for years anyway. My post on St. David’s Day might help: http://thenakedlistener.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/happy-birthday-wales/

  4. anonnickus

    I believe what mama saw was an object down by the school yard. That object was me and Julio. Some poets have a licence to commit errors. James Bond had a licence to kill. Simon and Garfunkel were due some latitude. We break a lot of rules for the sake of art. Thank goodness there are still those that actually know those rules. Yours is always a good post as a rule. No exception this time.

    • Thanks; you are kind. ‘Me and Julio’ has plenty of grammatical errors anyway, all for the sake of the art, but it’s still one of my favorite songs.

  5. Anita Lawson

    Maybe someone should teach public figures (especially athletes) when not to use “myself,” as a subject, as in, “Myself and my teammates are workin’ hard on this.”

    • Amen! I can’t remember whether or not I’ve written about the reflexive yet. Sadly, it’s not just athletes and public figures, but executives and others who think it sounds intelligent.

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