1. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    I or Me

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by zaffy, Mar 20, 2010.

    1 He is better than I

    2 He is better than me

    I presume the first is correct. However, the second example seems more natural in speech.

    Any views?
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I = subject pronoun
    me = object pronoun
    It's like:
    He's a better person than I am.
    So, 'He is better than I' is the correct sentence.

    BUT!
    This use of 'I' in an abbreviated sentence sounds hugely over correct to a British English speaker, and such use is considered pretty archaic in the UK now.

    I know that it's still used in the US, though--all these dialogues like
    Who's there? / It's I
    and
    Can I speak with Emma? / This is she
    are more common US English. In Britain we'd always say 'me' for all of these examples.
     
  3. m5roberts
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    m5roberts Member

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    In the U.S. we'd probably answer "It's me" too. Of course, I can't really speak for the entire U.S. It sounds more natural even though Standard American English dictates otherwise.

    This is what WikiAnswers has to say:
    The only exception to all of this is when the personal pronoun follows the verb BE (or one of its forms, such as IS). BE always takes the nominative form, so if you're going to be strictly correct, you should say "It is I" when someone asks "who's there?". But let's get real. That is such a special case and so archaic that almost no one ever says it. "It's me!" is perfectly acceptable in all but the most formal situations.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/When_do_you_use_%27I%27_versus_%27me%27
     
  4. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    "He is better than me" is correct.

    In the above sentence, "He" is the subject of the sentence, "is" is the verb, and "me" is the object. The focus of the sentence is on how "he" compares to "me," not on how "I" compare to "him."
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, B-Gas, but that isn't correct. The verb to be is a linking verb. Linking verbs do not take a direct object. Instead, they embellish the subject, so a subject pronoun belongs on the right hand side, not an object pronoun.

    Madhoca is correct that the complete form of the sentence is:
    The second am is understood and conventionally ommitted.

    However, common usage of using the (strictly speaking, incorrect) object pronoun is so prevalent that it is generally considered acceptable, and even preferable in common vernacular.
     
  6. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    I have to agree. "It's me" is most commonly used in US speech. Also "This is me" is also used more often; "This is she" is considered archaic use now, but some of the die hard fanatics (myself included :)) prefer and like the sound of the proper term for the latter. However, despite being proper, I still use the first "It's me" in speech. I suppose it would depend on where the person speaking is from. Having lived in both the southern and the northern states, the improper tends to be used more freely in the south; whereas the northern states tend to bounce back and forth depending on education and social standing. :)

    (Friend is a speech therapist, so she and I have had this discussion a lot. :))

    B
     
  7. chiank
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    chiank Member

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    J.K.Rowling has used this form of sentence in DH. In chapter the Sacking of Severus Snape, snape says that "It is I"
     
  8. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    I or me?

    What a fascinating word 'than' is!
    Often used as a conjunction governing an unexpressed verb - so the case of the pronoun is the case demanded by the unexpressed verb - in the case of the example: He is better than I (am) - nominative is correct ie 'I'

    but (there is always a 'but')
    'than' in ordinary speech is treated as a preposition and will take the accusative form of the pronoun ie 'me'

    So I suppose the correct answer to the original question is that when you write the phrase one uses: He is better than I (am)
    but
    whereas when you speak it (in English or American ) one says:
    He is better than me -
    and no mention is made of the unexpressed verb because 'than' as a preposition does not omit any verb

    For a far better answer than mine look up Collins Concise Dictionary - under 'than'

    We live and learn every day.

    Barry
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    from jack lynch's excellent 'guide to grammar and style' at rutgers.edu:

    http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/index.html
     
  10. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Severus Snape notwithstanding, Americans have developed extensively lazy patterns of speech and so are far more likely to say, "It's me," as opposed to "It is I." Us Yanks also tend to drop ending 'g' on -ing words and, when 'ty' come together they too often become a 'ch' (Instead of the articulated,"What are you doing?" one will often hear, "Whatcha doin"?") Lazy speech habits, plain and simple.

    But, to break down the 'me' and 'I' to the most basic points, when in doubt, take the other person out. This rule of thumb works in most cases. Obviously it would not work in a case such as the "He is better than I" scenario but, for other formulations it is a great yardstick. Consider, "He and I went out to dinner." Taking the 'other person' out you find that, "I went out to dinner." The same goes for the flip side of the coin. "Would you like to go with him and me?" If you take me out of the sentence, you will find that the correct structure is "Would you like to go with him?" Likewise, if you take 'him' out, the correct structure is "Would you like to go with me?"
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    uh, and folks in the uk aren't 'lazy'?... so people in leeds, manchester, cockneys and such haven't done the same?... and the upper crust never dropped their 'g's a la sayers' lord peter wimsey and noel coward, for just two well-known examples?... and how aboot those canadians and oz-landers' torturous treatment of their mother tongue?

    c'mon!... listen to and see how the original and other english-speakers of the world mangle their own language and don't be such a selective nationality-basher... ;-)
     
  12. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah. You're right, Mammamaia, but, living with the American mutilations, I tend to hear more of it here than I do when I travel elsewhere and it just feels somehow a little less abusive than "attacking" Europeans and other first language English-speaking people. Didn't mean to neglect you, though! I'll be sure to be more international in my complaints in the future!

    Cockneys speak English? Is that what that is? :D
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't be disrespectul toward other members. Just about all dialects of English are represented on this site.
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not being disrespectful. Just an observation of fact. I've lived in more places than I'd care to count and, in every one, I tend to adopt the patois 'indigenous people', speech peculiarities and defects and all. As an actor and a writer, awareness of those unique localized dialects has been a great help to me in portraying the people. Not disrespectful - just the truth.

    Truth only hurts when you deny it.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you didn't, since i'm american born and bred, though i've lived in many other parts of the world...

    and i have to ditto cog's adjuration... fyi, the american 'suthren' accent is just about as 'different' as cockney, but shouldn't be sneered at, either... there's no established 'right' or 'wrong' way to speak any language... and that's as it should be, imo... the richness of our languages' speech variants is part of what makes humans interesting... just imagine everyone speaking exactly the same way... how boring that would be!
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Snape would.
     
  17. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You call it lazy, they call it efficient. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

    Thing is, although some individuals might be lazy, you can't say that of complete language communities. Everybody uses language the most efficient way they can to get the effect they desire (although those effects might be subtle and subconscious). If American speech (which accent?) really were easier than any other, we'd all have American accents.
     

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