Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: let’s you and I.

let’s you and I. First, think of “let’s” (= let us). “Us” is in the objective case. Another form of the phrase (still in the objective case) would be “let you and me” (“you and me” agreeing with “us”). The construction “let you and I” is ungrammatical — and fairly rare. But what about “let’s you and I”? That is, “let us, you and I.” This, too, is ungrammatical — “us” and “you and I” being in apposition to “us.” But it’s an error of some literary standing. T.S. Eliot began “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917) in this way: “Let us go then, you and I.” In that sentence, “go” is an infinitive without an express “to” (sometimes called a “bare infinitive”), and an infinitive has as its subject a pronoun (“us”) in the objective case, not the nominative case. Yet the appositive for “us” — namely, “you and I” — is in the nominative case. This is an oddity, but today “let’s you and I” [+ verb] is common in spoken and written English alike. H.W. Fowler would have called it a “sturdy indefensible” e.g.: o “This upcoming Father’s Day weekend, let’s you and I renew our commitments to our kids and be the dads we always intended to be.” Doug Hall & Russ Quaglia, “Dad’s Resolution,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 14 June 1999, at E2. o “‘Let’s you and I be fair with one another.'” Jacob M. Schlesinger & Michael M. Phillips, “Surprising Choices,” Wall St. J., 19 Mar. 2001, at A1 (quoting Sen. Robert Byrd). For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “It is because we have scrapped most of our conjugations, nearly all our declensions and agreements, and all of our artificial genders, that the Danish philologist, [Otto] Jespersen, felt at liberty to call English the most advanced of modern languages, the least cumbrous grammatically, the simplest and most logical in its directness.” Brander Matthews, Essays on English 177-78 (1922).
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