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Q&A

Order of pronouns

+7
−1

In an examination in my country (India) I had a multiple choice question on the order of pronouns.

Q: Please try to remember when I, you and my wife were talking there.

Options:

A. you, I and my wife

B. I, my wife and you

C. you, my wife and I

D. No correction.

For the exam, we follow books by local authors and according to that rule, the order should be:

  • 231 for general conversation
  • 123 for confession

I was told about this in a study group. I don't have access to the text mentioned.

231 means second person, third person and first person. Similarly, 123 means first person, second person and third person.

So, the correct answer as suggested by the books by local authors is the third option: Please try to remember when you, my wife and I were talking there.

I am struggling to find reference on that topic in any books written by British authors. Someone (a British person) suggested it is just a thing of etiquette, that is probably borrowed from other languages. He also hinted that it's based on the idea on the lines of "God first, others next, self last". In this case "Others first, family next, self last". I am not really convinced because the local writers can't just write some rule out of nowhere which goes on to be a norm for exams. I might be wrong because not every exam in my country asks this type of questions.

Question: Are there any such rules prescribed by English grammar books (by British authors)?

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4 comments

I think this is a thing of tradition and etiquette rather than grammar. Lundin‭ 3 months ago

@Lundin Thanks. I have found a local book which explicitly mentions that it's a matter of etiquette. I am convinced now :) I am adding that as an answer here. Severus Snape‭ 3 months ago

Why are all the options borderline ungrammatical, and none include "me"?? curiousdannii‭ 2 months ago

@curiousdannii https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/1047/which-is-correct-you-and-i-or-you-and-me None of the examples should use "me", that would be ungrammatical. Moshi‭ 2 months ago

1 answer

+6
−0

Finally, I have found a book which explicitly mentions that it is a matter of manner.

It says:

a. Good manners require that the order of singular pronouns should be second person, third person and first person (231).

b. But in plural 'we' is used before 'you' and 'they' after 'you' (123). The latter order is also observed while referring to unpleasant acts. For example

  1. You and I will attend her wedding tomorrow. [Singular, hence 21]

  2. You and he will share the mangoes. [Singular, hence 23]

  3. You, Mohan and I will watch movie tonight. [Singular, hence 231]

  4. We, you and they are leaving for Mumbai tomorrow. [Plural, hence 123]

  5. I and you will be punished. [Unpleasant act, hence 12]

"Page from Objective General English, S.P. Bakshi"

Reference: Bakshi, S.P. Objecive General English. Meerut: Arihant Publications (India) Ltd, 2000. Print

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