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More on “My Wife and I”

In response to “Grammatical Gripe #2″ The Ridger writes:

Well, I’m not so very good at rhyme,
But this thing you hear all the time?
It’s just the language on its way
From Old English to modern day.

Pronouns are in a state of change,
They may seem awful, rude, or strange
But it’s no worse than nouns went through
And that doesn’t seem to bother you.

We don’t decline “my wife”, you know,
And yet we manage all to know
Whether subject or object of the clause:
This single form ne’er gives us pause.

Declensions have all given way
And word position’s here to stay.
Too, conjoined phrases do not act
Like single words, and that’s a fact.

You may complain – you do! – and yet
You don’t pine over “ye”, I’ll bet.
“Your wife and you” do double duty,
Which really is a thing of beauty.

When asked “who is it that can see?”
Do you say “I” or merely “me”?
You left “before I did”, did you? -
But “before me”, you know it’s true.

And who pays for the things we buy?
It’s “silly me”, not “silly I”.
One last thought before I go
Why does this anger people so?

It’s never confusing, always clear -
You never mistake the things you hear.
With nouns you do not even blink:
Why, then, the rage? Why, do you think?


I respond:

The language changes, I agree.
I’ve never pined for “thou” or “thee.”
I’m not that hoity-toity guy
Who tortures ears with “It is I.”
In normal everyday conditions
I often end with prepositions.
I don’t lament the loss of “whom”
Which now has all but reached its tomb.
Our pronouns truly are in flux.
But “I” for “me”?  Well, that still sucks!
The cases here are doing fine.
Declension isn’t in decline!
I love my wife, but even she
Can’t make an object “I” of “me”!
Perhaps a thousand years from now,
When cases take their final bow,
We’ll have but one first-person form
And object “I” will be the norm.
But up till then, with all respect,
Me always gonna talk correct.




  1. Anna wrote:

    Hahaha absolutely brilliant :) I shall continue to use whichever sounds right at the time, and I think that’s the best anyone can hope for.

    Monday, October 13, 2008 at 3:49 am | Permalink
  2. The Ridger wrote:

    You still commit the same “sin” whenever you use “you” as a subject, though. :-)

    Monday, October 13, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  3. Kathy Welch wrote:

    This is great, I must visit this site daily, youtube has video responses, but you, you have rhyming very challenging. I used to get headaches when I first began rhyming, I hope to get more pain in the future. I quit some years ago, but now that angstlessness in back in vogue I might try man hand again..with you as my inspiration.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  4. I wish I could paste in this box the William Haefeli cartoon on p. 64 of the August 30, 2010, New Yorker, but here’s the text under his drawing of one gent to another: “You have no idea what it’s like to be a ‘just between you and me’ person in a ‘just between you and I’ world.”

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

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