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  1. Paki-Writing
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    Paki-Writing Member

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    Formal Use of Pronoun

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Paki-Writing, Dec 24, 2008.

    Is it proper to say, "It's me" or "It's I."
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    technically correct: "It's I."

    the reality, however: nobody really talks that way, so if it's normal dialogue, use "It's me" instead
     
  3. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    I would say either "It's me" or "It is I"
    If you go for "I" it just seems too formal to use the contraction "It's"
    But that's just me.
     
  4. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Actually, if you're really formal, you should not use contractions at all.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    those replies say it all, imo...

    in the end, what you choose to use should depend on where and how you use it... in dialog, it should be how the character would speak and in narrative, how the narrator would... in non-fiction, it could be an entirely different story, depending on how formal/informal the medium is...
     
  6. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    Well, in formal speech, you would never refer to a person as it. You would say, "She is I," or "He is I."
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not if the question being answered is the usual, such as, "Who's there?" or "Who's that?"... in formal speech one would say, 'It is I," because the answer is actually meaning, "It is I to whom you refer."... which has no gender connection or requirement...

    your example would only be correct if the question is something like, "Who is that woman/man?"
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    When a pronoun follows a linking verb e.g. IS/WAS/WERE which describes a state of being, not an action, it should be in the subject case.

    But even though it is grammatically correct to say, “It is I”, this is almost totally extinct in the UK, and dying in the US.

    So, both “It is I”, and “It’s me” are acceptable, and even Fowler’s Modern English Usage says that because it is colloquial, it is a ‘lapse of no importance’.
     
  9. Carpenter_writer
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    Carpenter_writer Member

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    I am curious what the rule technically is. I vaguely remember, from a very long time ago, that one would use 'I' at the beginning before the verb of a sentence and one would use 'me' at the end after the verb. (Sorry it was a VERY long time ago that I was in English class and I forget the proper terms for things and places) For example:

    I will meet you at the theatre

    as opposed to

    You will meet me at the theatre

    Please clarify with a reference to the rule . . . I am quite confused.
     
  10. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both of those sentences you gave are correct. If you're talking about when to use 'I' instead of 'me,' that's what everyone's just explained above.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Carpenter_writer, have you been taught what the subject and object of a sentence is? An English friend told me that grammar theory is almost absent in their schools, so I'm not assuming everyone knows this.

    A simple sentence like "Jill throws the ball" consists of three parts: predicate, subject and object.
    The predicate is what happens or is being done: "throws".
    The subject is who or what is acting: "Jill".
    The object is who or what is acted upon: "the ball".

    Now compare these two sentences:
    "I hit Jill."
    "Jill hits me."

    Notice how the pronoun "I" has two different forms ("I" or "me"), depending on whether it's the subject or the object of the sentence.

    It's the same with other pronouns, like "she":
    "She hits Jill."
    "Jill hits her."

    or "we":

    "We hit Jill."
    "Jill hits us."

    PS:
    Madhoca describes an exception to this rule: When the predicate only indicates a state of being, for example:

    "I am Jill."
    "Jill is I."

    "We are cold."
    "Cold are we."

    then, according to formal English, both are written in subject form ("I", not "me", "we", not "us", etc).

    Hope I got it all right.
     
  12. Carpenter_writer
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    Carpenter_writer Member

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    Still confused . . . let me see if I can come up wit an example . . .

    An investigator has two pictures of the same man, but one is older and the other is more recent. He quickly points from the more recent to the older and says, "He was him."

    The investigator is technically misspeaking, and should be saying, "He is he."

    This somehow seems wrong to me. Is the example above correct or false? "He is he" or "he is him"?

    "When a pronoun follows a linking verb e.g. IS/WAS/WERE which describes a state of being, not an action, it should be in the subject case."
     
  13. Carpenter_writer
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    Carpenter_writer Member

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    Islander, yes I was taught the subject and object piece, but 15 years of disuse, and the fact that I wasn't paying attention at the time, have left certain blanks. The exception to the rule is what I seem to be grasping for.

    I find it mildly comical that a failing high school english student would suddenly decide to take up writing 15 years later . . . life's ironies.

    Thank you all for your help! I wish I had more to offer of my own, but perhaps my question is helping someone else more sheepish and not willing to ask.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'I' is used when it's the subject of a sentence

    'me' is used when it's the object
     
  15. Margaretha
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    Margaretha New Member

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    I told my English students to remember the sentence "I hit she" as a mnemonic for remembering the doer and the receiver. All students know that "I hit she" doesn't work, and if they extrapolate to a longer, more complicated sentence, this basic incorrect mnemonic can help them figure out whether their grammar was right or wrong.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ugh!... just yesterday, i heard three different newscasters on two different networks use 'he/she' when it should have been 'him/her'!... seems no one gives a fleep about their grammar any more... not even the pros to whom it should be sacrosanct!
     

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