March 24th, 2004
Making or taking decisions / to you and me or to you and I?
by Barbara Wallraff
Deeder McDaniel, of Los Angeles, writes: “Unlike most people I know, my boss never makes decisions or attends meetings—he ‘takes’ them. He also expresses opinions ‘around’ things and occasionally ‘can’t speak to’ an issue. I feel as if I’m in a parallel universe every time he makes a presentation.”
And you are! You’ve fallen through a wormhole into the realm of business jargon. To be fair, jargon has its uses. If, for instance, you repaired bicycles for a living, you’d want to talk with your co-workers about gears and rims and sprockets. Why? Because it gets old really fast to say “the toothlike projections on the wheel rim that engage the links of the chain” when you can just say “sprockets” instead. Jargon comes in handy as shorthand among specialists—whether their specialty is bicycle repair, language, medicine, baking, or business.
Eleanor Forish, of Rochester Hills, Mich., writes, “Which is correct: ‘She sent a letter to you and me’ or ‘She sent a letter to you and I’? I always use ‘me,’ but I hear and read others using ‘I.’”
Let’s keep hoping. Using “me” and “I” correctly isn’t even hard to do. It would never occur to anyone to say “She sent a letter to I”—so why does adding in “you” throw so many people off? Eleanor, of course you’re right that the letter should be sent “to you and me.”
© Copyright 2003 by Barbara Wallraff. Reprints require prior permission. All rights reserved.