1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Subject vs Object in this sentence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Rumwriter, Apr 22, 2015.

    I am looking for what is grammatically correct here, for my own curiosity and peace of mind, regardless of what "sounds" best.

    It is grammatically correct to say "This is he," or "This is she," when, for instance, answering a phone because "to be" is a copulate. In this case we use a subject pronoun.

    But when using the copulate, do you ALWAYS keep it a subject pronoun?

    For instance, isn't it grammatically correct to say "It is him whom I love," rather than "It is he whom I love?" Or is there an implied "he" that is simply omitted, for instance "It is he, him, whom I love."

    Again, I want to precise ruling, not the common usage.

    Thanks.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It is he whom I love.

    I'm pretty sure, "It is him" isn't right. But in other constructions, "It's him, that's the guy," sounds fine.
     
  3. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    It is he is correct, not that anyone says it that way. I also agree with @GingerCoffee that it is "It is he whom I love." Again, not that anyone would necessarily say it that way.
     
  4. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Why is it "It is he whom I love"? I agree that I think it is correct, but I want some clarifications on the why.

    "Whom" is a word that is used with objects. The object pronoun would be "him."

    Also, as far as the example above: "That's him, that's the guy," I think it would still be "That's he, that's the guy," though no one would ever say that.
     
  5. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    It's a tricky one. I wouldn't claim to be absolutely certain, but because it is a cleft sentence, you are "cleaving" your object away from your subject. I think different people would argue different ways (much like the "than me" vs. "than I" debate).
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with lustrousonion. It's a cleft sentence. In this sentence, the copulate structure is a bit of an accessory. Were you to phrase it as:

    He is whom I love.

    ... it is much more clear as to subject and object. In the original phrasing, he serves as a subject compliment, thus is still part of the subject phrase, but when we get to the choice of who or whom, this is clearly a direct object being modified by the verb love, hence whom rather than who.
     
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  7. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    Am I the only one that isn't clear about the term "copulate"? Shouldn't we be saying "copula"?
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Copula is the name of the verb itself, but copulate serves as a descriptor. An unusual form, but it serves. :) Just like few would say latinate, but instead rephrase so that Latin can be used.
     
  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both quotes from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copula_(linguistics)

    In linguistics, a copula (plural: copulas or copulae) is a word used to link the subject of a sentence with a predicate (a subject complement), such as the word is in the sentence "The sky is blue."


    A verb that is a copula is sometimes called a copulative or copular verb.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I can't speak on the level of copulating, so this could be completely wrong but it's in plain English.

    From my POV now that I've had time to think about it:

    In the sentence, "It is him," 'him' is the object of the verb. 'It' is the subject.

    In the sentence, "It is he whom I love," 'he' is the subject of the verb, 'love'. 'It' is still the subject, but "he whom I love" is the object. So the object is the whole clause.
     
  11. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I love to speak on the level of copulating. ;)

    He is not the subject but part of the first clause--"it is he". This is one unit. Also--and I see exactly what you mean to say--if he was the subject of the verb love, then he would be the one doing the loving.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Then how is, "it's him" correct as well?


    I should add that I believe you. Curious minds want to learn more. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  13. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    "It is him" is not correct. "Him" is not an object here. "Is" is a special verb that does not create an object for the subject, but creates reflectivity of the subject, and so it gets a subject pronoun: "It is he."
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Are you saying this is incorrect, @Rumwriter? Because I don't think it is.

    "Is the man you saw here?"
    "Yes. It's him," I said pointing to the man.
    Perhaps I wasn't clear in my post when I said, "is correct as well," you didn't know I was referring to my other post.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So let me clear up that exchange since I the one that wasn't clear:

    Or perhaps @lustrousonion wasn't clear. :p
    Or my reading comprehension is less than ideal, also a possibility. :p

    I was referring to "He" not being the subject of the verb "love" in the clause "he whom I love."

    But now I see maybe @lustrousonion was in agreement with me after all. :crazy:
     
  16. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I'm sure I added to the confusion.

    "It is him" is wrong, for the reason @Rumwriter said. It should be, "It is he." I didn't address this at all in my last post, but maybe I should have. In these moments, I like to think of "to be" as an equals sign. It = he.
     
  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    "It is he who committed that dreadful crime. That is him."(?)
     
  18. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    No, it would still be "that is he."

    Good article about this here: http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2011/06/subject-object.html

    I like the part about it being a matter of style nowadays rather than being correct vs. incorrect. Takes the pressure off. But the "not following Latin structure because English a Germanic language" loses me. German does the same thing and much more strictly. "Das bin ich."
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    Location:
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    That's him over there.
    There's no way that is grammatically supposed to be:

    That's he over there.

     
  20. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I think that's where the article helps. Traditionally it was, "That is he;" that's the copula. But we've all accepted that it isn't said that way today. The only people who would ever need to be so strict are linguists trying to map sentences.
     
  21. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    In fact, I believe it is grammatically correct to say "That's he over there." It only sounds funny because incorrect grammar is mainstream over here. And I don't mean that in a pretentious way, but it's just the way it is.

    I've lately gotten in the habit of saying "I, too," rather than "Me, too," because that is also a common error in the way we speak.

    "I want to go to the park."

    "Me, too (want to go to the park.)" Sounds ridiculous when you carry out the full sentence.

    Though, there are times when "Me, too" would be correct, such as:

    "I gave John, Sam, and Rebecca ten dollars."

    "And (you gave) me (ten dollars), too."

    And really, these sorts of distinctions are important. Because if you say:

    "I owe him money." Depending on whether you respond with "I, too" or "Me, too" makes a big difference in what you are saying—that you either also owe money, or that you are also owed money.

    Anyway, I've gotten off track. My point was simply that speaking incorrectly has now become correct. In much the same way literally has now literally been accepted to mean "not literally." *sigh*
     
  22. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I've got to disagree with you, @Rumwriter. While "I, too" is correct, I don't believe the distinction is important. In fact, I would say "I, too" is so antiquated that most listeners would be hindered by your use of it.
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't have an issue with, "I, too, want to go." While "Me too" doesn't sound right at all if you add the clause, "want to go."

    "It is he" is the same grammatically as, "It is I." It implies or requires something to follow such as 'who [fill in the blank]'. But when you don't use 'who' in the clause, be it in form of a preceding question or not, that changes the structure.

    "Who here is guilty?"
    "It is he."

    "Is the guilty man in the room?"
    "Yes, that is him over there."
    It differs when 'he who [fill in the blank]' is the clause rather than 'it is him' which makes 'him' the object rather than the subject.
     
  24. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Of course people would be hindered by it. That's my whole point.
     
  25. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I still don't find the distinction important--that is where we disagree. :)
     

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