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http://vaadin.com/ makes a tool for User Interfaces (UI). Their tag line is “Thinking of U and I.” A play on words, I suppose, for UI, and “you and I.” It bothers me, though, because I think both pronouns should be in the objective case, i.e., “you” and “me.”

Is “Thinking of you and I” grammatically correct?

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Many tag lines and slogans are ungrammatical. That's what keeps the business going! –  Jimi Oke Apr 1 '11 at 8:53
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6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The phrase ‘Thinking of U and I’ is not ungrammatical because of the use of I. It maybe ungrammatical because of the use of U, although this is rather common today also.

I would like to say that I would never write like this as it would cause me too much distress.

It is important to note that what one means by ‘grammatical’ differs. The CGEL is a descriptive grammar and thus, when it says something is grammatical, it means well represented in the language.

In the following, % means grammatical in some dialects only and ! means non-standard.

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language says this:

Because these coordinate nominatives are perceived to be associated with avoidance of stigmatised accusatives in subject coordinations they are often described as hypercorrections. This is to imply that they are ‘incorrect’, not established forms in the standard language. Construction [%The present was supposed to represent Helen and I, that was the problem] with I as final coordinate is, however, so common in speech and used by so broad a range of speakers that it has to be recognised as a variety of Standard English, and we will reserve the term hypercorrection for examples like [%They’ve awarded he and his brother certificates of merit].

Here’s the context of that paragraph:

For one variety of English, coordination has no bearing on case: the case of a coordinate pronoun is the same as that of a pronoun that could substitute for the whole coordination. Some examples conforming to this rule are as follows:

  1. At 4 pm this afternoon my ministers and I formally took office.
  2. He and Luckman were sentenced to life imprisonment.
  3. He and I have some of our biggest arguments over Conservative social issues.
  4. You know you can trust Andrea and me.
  5. I saw them and their children in the park.
  6. There has always been pretty intense rivalry between him and me.

Compare [1–3] with the non-coordinate nominatives I took office, They were sentenced …, We have …, and [4–6] with the accusatives … you can trust us, I saw them, … between us. This is the pattern advocated by the usage manuals, but for many speakers the case-assignment rules are sensitive to the syntactic distinction between coordinate and non-coordinate pronouns.

Coordinate nominatives corresponding to non-coordinate accusatives

  1. a) %The present was supposed to represent Helen and I, that was the problem.
    b) %Any postgrad who has any concerns about working conditions or security in shared offices is welcome to approach either Ann Brown or I with them.
    c) %It would be an opportunity for you and I to spend some time together.
    d) %He had intended to leave at dawn, without you or I knowing anything about it.
  2. a) %They’ve awarded he and his brother certificates of merit.
    b) %There’s a tendency for he and I to clash.

Single pronouns replacing the coordinations would have to be in accusative case: us in [1] and [2b], them in [2a]. One particularly common use of this construction is in the expression between you and I, and indeed usage manuals often discuss it under that heading. It must be emphasised, however, that these nominatives are found quite generally in coordinations functioning in positions where single accusative pronouns are used. The pattern shown in [1], with the nominative as final coordinate, is much more common than the one in [2], where the nominative occurs at first (or both first and final) coordinate.

There can be little doubt that the quite common use of this construction is related to the stigmatism attaching to accusatives in subject coordinations like those in [the first set of examples]: people are taught that Me and Kim will do it and Kim and me will do it are incorrect, and many generalise their avoidance of such coordinate accusatives to other functional positions. The schoolteacher’s strictures focus primarily on the 1st person singular pronoun (since this is where children most commonly depart from the standard variety), and in [the second set of examples], with final-only nominative, I is overwhelmingly the most frequent form that is found.

Because these coordinate nominatives are perceived to be associated with avoidance of stigmatised accusatives in subject coordinations they are often described as hypercorrections. This is to imply that they are ‘incorrect’, not established forms in the standard language. Construction [1 above] with I as final coordinate is, however, so common in speech and used by so broad a range of speakers that it has to be recognised as a variety of Standard English, and we will reserve the term hypercorrection for examples like [2 above].

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It may also be grammatical if the 'U' and 'I' are abbreviations. For example, it could be 'Thinking of Users and Interfaces'. –  J D OConal Apr 1 '11 at 7:35
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I guess I'm not enough of a descriptivist to accept stuff like "Please ask Ann or I" as grammatical. They come from over-correction, I think: people had it pounded into their heads that you shouldn't say "You and me should go shopping", so they generalized that incorrectly, and now avoid "you and me" even where it's correct. –  JPmiaou Apr 1 '11 at 13:31
    
I agree with you entirely. There were two reasons I posted this: (1) to provide a complete answer and (2) I haven't managed to find a comprehensive prescriptive grammar with which I agree. –  J D OConal Apr 2 '11 at 0:12
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So in which dialects is "The present is from Helen and I" correct rather than a common mistake? I have genuinely never encountered them. –  TimLymington May 14 '11 at 22:54
    
I don't subscribe to the "everyone else is doing it, so why don't we" mentality. –  Robert S. Aug 23 '11 at 17:37

"Thinking of U and I" in this particular case means to be thinking of User and Interface, but referencing only the initials of each word. Using "I" as an initial is not the same as using "I" the pronoun. The author is using some literary license and doing a great job of it, in my humble opinion.

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Done accidentally it is an error, since of I/me is not the subject here.

You would say thinking of me, and so thinking of you and me.

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That, and the justification you quote, is what people have been insisting on for decades. But see the passage J D OConal quoted. –  Colin Fine Apr 1 '11 at 11:41

As a side note, the phrase is a play on pair of words that are related to the field of the Vaadin Framework:

  • You and I
  • User Interface (UI)
  • User and [application programming] Interface
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When you play on a word, it need not be in the correct case. Since "Thinking of Users and Interfaces" is correct, so is "Thinking of U and I". The play on "you" and "I" need not be in correct case, since it's just suggested.

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It's simple:

Subject pronouns (I, he, she, it, you, we, they) before the verb; object pronouns usually after the verb (me, him, her, it, you, us, them). Indirect object pronouns (me, him, her, it, you, us, them) after all prepositions (with me, after him, etc.)

Exception:

The verb to be requires a subject pronoun in both subject and object position (It is I, they were we, etc.)

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