Submitted by isabella on June 15, 2006

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

A common example is the phrase “This is she.” used to answer a telephone. ‘She’ is the nominative form of the word, so it cannot be used to describe somebody who is the object of a sentence (in this example, ‘this’ would be the subject). The correct way to phrase the example would be “This is her.”, though most people prefer the familiar businesslike shorthand “Speaking.”

See suite101.com.

From another site, this was the response:

“This is she” is grammatically correct. The verb “to be” acts as a linking verb, equating subject and object. So this is she and she is this; “she” and “this” are one and the same, interchangeable, and to be truly interchangeable they must both play the same grammatical role—that of the subject.

See press.uchicago.edu

I am quite confused! I believe “This is her” is correct because it is understood that “speaking” is simply omitted; thus, we know the speaker is implying “This is her speaking” when she answers “This is her.” After all, we ask to speak to her. When she answers that she’s the one who had answered the call, she’s (obviously) speaking at the time. Therefore, it is her speaking.

What is your opinion on the matter?

Comments

Sort by

The last comment from goofy is absolutely right. If "This is she" is grammatical (as the Chicago Manual of Style says) then it isn't consistent with general usage of the verb "be". I suppose you could call it an idiom, or more likely, snobbery.

English is a Germanic language, and in general Germanic languages take the nominative case for the object (sometimes called predicate) of the verb "be". Modern German does for all objects of "be", not just pronouns.

Old English did this too, but in the middle ages, English started to change under the influence of French and started using the accusative (me, her, him, us, them) after "be" instead of the nominative (I, she, he, we, they).

If it was true that modern English took the nominative after "be", we would say things like "That's they over there" or "The man who murdered Poirot is he!".

So if anyone tries to tell you that "This is she" is really their natural way of speaking ... they
a) have been dead for several hundred years
b) are a snob
c) have had this rule shoved down their throat by a snob

68 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Determining if something is right or not by whether a lot of people you know use it is ridiculous. If I used all the terrible English I heard everyday no one would understand a word I said, way to aim low!

68 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

When you say "this is her/she," you are not implying the word "speaking." In fact what you are doing is equating yourself to the person for whom the caller is asking. If the caller is asking for Sarah, one could accomplish the same thing by saying "I am Sarah." But instead you are replacing the word "I" with "this" and "Sarah" with the nominative pronoun, in this case "she."

If you still don't buy it, take latin for example (in latin, the rules about which words go in which cases (nominative/accusative/etc) are about smack-on to our own, but they are easier to see because of case endings.) In latin, Sarah would say "ego sum sara" or "I am sarah", and the same grammatical markings would appear on "haec est ea" or "this is she."

58 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"My friend and I are going out"..

Personally, I think this whole discussion seems ludicrous. You don't like the rules? Deal with it. It is ridiculous to think that just because you have some bad habits, the rules of grammar must be changed to make speech more comfortable for you. I have always heard it said "this is she," and that is the right way of saying it. People who say otherwise are poorly educated or just careless.

53 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Common usage does not equal correct usage.

40 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The correct response is "This is she". "Is" is a linking verb and so the complement is subjective not objective. "This is she" is not used very often and because of that it sounds funny. Just because it sounds funny does not mean it is incorrect.

37 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Insisting that nominative pronouns must follow 'be' ignores what "fact"? The "fact" that it sounds absurd to you? It doesn't sound absurd to me, so is it still a "fact"?

Jennifer is right. Just because something sounds funny doesn't make it absurd or snobbish or wrong. When it sounds funny, check out the rules. If you don't like the answer, too bad.

People don't like to find out that something they're accustomed to is technically wrong. So what's the reaction? Declare the rules are wrong and decide that what sounds right to them is correct. So we all now have our own personal grammar rules.....great! Grammatical Relativity.

Jeez - have some humility!

36 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

P.S. "Anonymous".. I find your comments about "special ed" and "trailer parks" rather rude and completely out of line. You don't need to stoop to meaningless insults to get your point across.

36 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hey John, "Me and my friend are going out"????????? You think this is OK???????? or even worse, the norm??????????? You must be in special ed, have grown up in a trailer park, or be just plain ignorant.

27 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Anonymous's remarks to John may have been overly harsh, but, to tell you the truth, I can't help but appreciate anonymous's frustration. For someone to assert that "me and my friend are going out" is somehow normal or acceptable is just plain absurd. Even the most liberal descriptivist doesn't accept that anything anyone says or hears is grammatically correct, just because it is said or heard.

Furthermore, the claim that "It is what a lot of speakers say, including well-educated speakers I know." is equally absurd and proves nothing. If someone consistently says something that is so egregiously, grammatically incorrect, then, by definition, he or she is not well-educated. Anyone who identifies such a person as well-educated merely betrays their own lack of discrimination. That's probably what sparked anonymous's outburst in the first place.

PS, I would also disagree with some of John's basic facts. It's one thing to discuss whether "this is she" is required, optional, or archaic. It's quite another to suggest that "me and my friend are going out" illustrates the very rule for proper grammar. I'm sorry, but this is NOT how native speakers use their language. To assert otherwise as fact is just incorrect. You do hear it, but not commonly, and never from anyone well-educated, usually from a small child. Certainly, no one I know speaks that way.

26 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It is what a lot of speakers say, including well-educated speakers I know. Whether it is acceptable depends on the register and the attitudes of the speaker and listener.

I'm just talking about how native speakers use their language. There's no need to insult me.

24 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It's inaccurate and confusing, particularly steps 3 and 6.

STEP 3: Turn a sentence around if you are confused about whether a pronoun is the subject or object: "The best swimmer is him." "Him is the best swimmer." (Wrong) "The best swimmer is he." (Correct)

STEP 6: Answer "This is he (or she)" when you identify yourself on the telephone: Caller 1: "Is Lucy Peters there?" Caller 2: "This is she." ("She is this," not "Her is this.")

In following these rules, I'll end up saying absurd things like:

"Who's that in the picture? - That's I."
"Who are the winners? - The winners are we."

To insist that nominative pronouns must follow "be" is to ignore the facts.

20 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The easiest rule to follow would be to place your subject first, that is following the pattern-Subject Verb Object. Example, "He is the best runner." and not "The best runner is he."

In any case Cal and Jess are correct in that one must live up to rules and not the other way around. If we don't hold the line then widespread use of "ain't" and "ax" for ask will be our future.

19 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I personally waver between trying to be a purist - and to talk 'correct' English - and trying to be a normal everyday human, who is living with and using an evolving thing. If I arrive home, I call out "It's me!". I don't say '"It is I". I am aware that by the 'correct rules' of language - laid down fundamentally by the prissy and over-zealous Victorians - I should say "It is I"; but I am also quite aware that to the modern ear, it sounds silly and frankly wrong. That is what linguistic evolution is all about.

That being said, I will absolutely insist upon using 'I' when I say 'My friend and I are going out'; because I would say 'I am going out'. Conversely, simply because it just doesn't sound right, I will not say "I and my friend are going out."

I am educated, I am (fairly) aware of my language, and so I will try to use it correctly. Fundamentally, I try to use it to express what I mean, and to ensure that my audience will understand what I am saying; without excessive pedantry.

Oh - although 'shall' and 'will' remain a bit of a mystery to me!

19 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am almost certain that the correct phrase is "This is she". This is because you can ask, "May I please speak TO her?" but in that case, you are using it directly. I like to swap the phrase making it "she is this" or "she is who is speaking" and it just makes more sense, yes?

18 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Jennifer,
You obviously have to use some judgment. You might not want to use slang just because everyone else is using it. But I don't see how using the English you hear everyday means that no one would understand you. Do you not understand the English you hear every day?

Everyone around me says "this is her." No one says "this is she." If the traditional rule differs from what people say, that tells me that something is wrong with the rule, not the speakers.

16 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

If we follow the prescription that we must use nominative (or subject) case after "be", we get ridiculous things like this:


"Here's a photo of my old hockey team."

"Which one of these players is you?"

(pointing) "Oh, that's I."

16 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Potato Potaato

15 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Or, as Dan Quayle once said, "potatoe".

14 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This is from Ronald Wardhaugh's "Proper English," which I recommend if you are interested in this at all:

Whatever a grammar of a language is, it is largely impervious to human intervention. That is, the really interesting rules and principles are so basic that we cannot do anything at all about them. What we can do is try to influence some of the minor outcomes, for example, try to insist that people say "I drank" instead of "I drunk" or "It's I" instead of "It's me". Essentialy that is tinkering with matters of no linguistic consequence. To elevate the study of grammar to the task of trying to bring about "correction" in such matters is to trivialize that study. These matters may be of social consequence and often are, but that is a social observation and not a linguistic one, because "I drunk" and "It's me" are linguistically on a par with "I drank" and "It's I". Furthermore, it is an observation that tells us much about social organization and the function of trivia in such organization and nothing about the structure of language.

13 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Mofei,

The latter part of your response (a, b, c) really made me laugh...beautiful!

Great posts from everyone!

And here I thought when I did a Google search on this topic, nothing would come up!

Now, I will leave things at that/this (whole new topic? which one is it? "that" or "this"?) and not to get into a discussion over my usage of the word "And" to start a sentence.

Goodness, English can be a headache ;)

12 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Is it just me (is it just I) or am I the only one who doesn't have this problem?
Maybe it's because it is not often me (it is not often I) who answers the phone. Or perhaps it is because when I do, if someone asks if I am there, I say, "Wait a minute, I'll check."

12 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"This is her" is correct, because the only people who say "This is she" are people who have been told a rule that's based on one or both of two rules:
1. Language is math.
2. English is a different language.
Languages don't always make sense analytically. Fortunately, they don't have to.

12 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Then why do I never say "That's I"?

When am I supposed to use the subject case pronouns after "be" and when am I supposed to use the object case? The "rule" is impossible to follow.

12 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I understand and appreciate both sides of this discussion, that there are rules that should be respected and adhered to regardless of "common" (i.e. incorrect and widespread) usage, and that some people prefer an incorrect usage to a correct usage that sounds formal, snobby or pedantic due to a ubiquitous lack of proper usage. (I really appreciate Sian's comments; he/she articulated his/her point of view perfectly, which happens to align rather neatly with my own.)

However, * no one * will EVER convince me that "me and her are going" or "me and my friend are xxx" is correct in any way, shape or form! John states that his friends who say this are well-educated. Perhaps they are brilliant in their respective fields...but their English usage in this case is atrocious. I'm not sure where he gets his argument about "native speakers", but I'm with everyone else who rejects his argument regarding this usage. It is simply wrong, wrong, wrong, no matter how you try to slice it.

Jess' comment that "common usage does not equal correct usage" was brilliantly succint and cuts to the heart of the argument.

Regarding another of John's comments, I don't find steps 3 or 6 in that link confusing at all; in fact, I find them quite helpful at times.

I find Mitre's final comments about matching a question's grammar to its answer rather absurd. One has nothing to do with the other. The caller asks to speak TO someone, and the preposition requires a certain part of speech after it. The grammatical construction of the answer is not dependent on the grammatical construction of the question!

All these opinions worth exactly the .00 you paid for them :)

Melissa

P.S. I'd love to hear about the rules for usage when a written word begins with a vowel that sounds like a consonant. Case in point: in my first paragraph, I said "a ubiquitous" instead of "an ubiquitous". The latter is, I believe, technically correct; however, since most of us actually sound out words in our head as we read, the former sounds "better", or at least, less awkward. (Yes, I recognize the irony inherent in the fact that I chose to utilize the common usage over the correct usage despite railing against such a choice about half a second ago.) Has anyone seen this kind of issue addressed or codified in a rule somewhere? If so, I'd greatly appreciate a link.

11 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It is obvious that the only thing that is "incorrect" is claming that one or the other situations is the "tecnical" truth.

First of all, grammar rules are not written in stone. Chaucer couldn't pass a modern grammar test and neither could Shakespeare. Language evolves based on usage.

In this whole forum, nobody has established an absolute, clear-cut rule. Additionally, nobody has defined their terms, and after doing several internet searches I still haven't gotten a good definition of what a copulative verb, a coordinated pronoun, or a substituted non-coordinated pronoun are. Why would a person use a fancy linguistical term that has no definition? The only answer I can come to is that they are just making it up to sound smart and reduce the possiblity of a retort. (If I'm wrong on this, prove it by providing simple definitions)

There is clearly, even among linguists, a division over whether it is correct to say "This is her" or "This is she" which leads me to suggest that this is a poor construction to use. Therefore, in my opinion, BOTH are wrong. When somebody asks:

"Is Jane there."

The ONLY absolutely correct answer that nobody can complain about is.

"I am Jane."

Furthermore, this kind of conversation is dangerous because people start misapplying the poorly explained rule to other situations. I had a friend of mine who is a high school ESL teacher try to tell me that it´s incorrect to say:

You are smarter than me.

And it should be:

You are smarter than I.

I´ve looked all over to see if there is any truth to this suggestion and the closest thing I found to a treatment of this was in the Raymond Murphy grammar book in which they said you can use EITHER "You are smarter than me." or "You are smarter than I am." but it said nothing about only using "You are smareter than I."

However, this should not be taken as an absolute rule either for there is a precident in the English language where implied words are not stated and the sentence is still gramatically correct.

So, to sum up, if linguists can't agree, then there is no hard and fast rule, OK.

And just to leave you with a little bit of a brain teaser, what about when somebody brings you something and says: "Here you go." How many grammatical rules are broken with that statement? Or is there some loophole "official" rule in the linguistic bible that justifies it?

11 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Vile proscriptionist grammarian humbuggary I vanquish thee! Choke on my syntactical ambiguity! If I wished to speak with SHE I wouldn't have asked for HER by name! And long live exclamation points!!! Huzzah The Bottom Line!!

11 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Here's a thought. John, there's a common thread in many of your posts about descriptivism, the nature of linguistics, etc. Well, how about this? When someone asks if something is correct English, stay out of it! As you have said many times, linguistics isn't concerned with prescriptive "correctness". It is only concerned with observing how some people speak. Knowing that more or fewer people use a particular twist of speech today than a few years ago, however interesting, does not mean that there are no language "rules" in English. The fact that linguistics is not concerned with rules or correctness does NOT mean that rules or correctness do not exist. If anything, your assertions make linguistics mostly irrelevant! It seems at times that you are asserting that anything that anyone says is OK as long as there are many, no, even a few people who say it. Well, I guess it is "OK" for them, but if someone is asking about correct grammar, such comments are not particularly helpful.
Everyone over the age of four learns English by studying it in school according to prescriptive rules. Yes, we don't have a government bureau of English, at least not in the US, but that doesn't mean we don't have a vast system of education much, if not most, of which is dedicated to the prescription of our language. If I may make an analogy, speeding is illegal almost everywhere on the planet. However, most people drive a little over the speed limit, some, a lot. Everybody does it mostly with impunity, but it's still against the law. If someone asked about it, an intelligent and useful answer would be "The rules say that you should drive within the speed limit. If you drive a little faster on the highway, you are unlikely to get a ticket. If you exceed the limit by more than, say, 10 MPH, you stand a good chance of being pulled over. Regardless, if you want to obey the law, you should not speed. While it is unlikely, you can get prosecuted for going even 1 MPH above the speed limit." It is NOT accurate or useful to say "Go ahead. speed if you want to. Everybody does it. Drive as fast as you want." It is also not helpful to say "Go ahead and speed. Everyone does. just be aware that if you drive dangerously faster than the norm, you might get a ticket, but that's OK, you're still a good driver, because there really aren't any rules. Rules are some arbitrary irrelevant thing made up by society. They shouldn't concern you." Linguists may not be concerned with grammar rules, but that doesn't mean that everyone else isn't or shouldn't be.

10 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Mitre, you are incorrect. In the sentence "If Jane is in the office, then I really need to speak to her," the proper word is "her" because it is the object of a preposition. The objective case word would be "her." In "This is she," "she" is a predicate nominative. The nominative case word is "she."

Ben, the correct sentence is "You are smarter than I," because the understood ending of the sentence is "You are smarter than I am smart." "You are smarter than me am smart" would never make sense.

10 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

On second thoughts, I think 'this is she' is more grammatically correct.
Consider regular sentences with 'her' or 'she':
1. She is beautiful.
2. Her dress is beautiful.
If we were to insert names, each sentence would respectively be:
1. Sarah is beautiful
2. Sarah's dress is beautiful.
'Sarah' replaced 'She' and Sarah's' replaced 'Her'.
If Sarah were to be asked "May I speak with Sarah?', Her answer could be 'This is Sarah'. If she were to replace her name with she/her, from the sentences above, then her response should be 'This is she'.
I didn't major in English though..... and I realize my analogy wouldn't work with 'I', 'My' or 'Me'.... or some other she/her sentences, for that matter....

10 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hey Jen,

Ok, so your lesson has passed now, but here's what you tell your students: "this is she" is technically correct but "this is her" is often used.

Done.

10 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Reality Check #1:
This discussion has been going on for a YEAR! Better usage of time people? Simple solution: use something you know to be correct, do not risk sounding like an idiot (because either usage of she/her can have that result).

Reality Check #2:
Language is constantly evolving, from having a lot of vitality to near death (defend Latin all you want, 99% of the world does not really care). Therefore, this conversation will become irrelevant when the Chinese people take over the world and everybody will have to speak Cantonese or Mandarin.

Reality Check #3:
I already spent too much time on this inconsequential topic (compared to the big picture), so this will be my first and last post!

Much Love and Peach for All.

10 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

What does equal correct usage? Shakespeare used "between you and I" - 200 years before English grammar was taught in school.

We find "take a picture of her and I"
but we never find "take a picture of I"
We find "her and I are going out"
but we never find "her is going out"

Why is that? What is it about 2 pronouns conjoined by "and" that makes them behave differently than a single pronoun? This is the question we should be asking. Insisting that one usage is wrong and the other is right because of some Latin-derived prescriptive rules doesn't help us learn anything interesting about language.

http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/Fall_2003/lin...

9 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

We use "a" before a consonant sound and "an" before a vowel sound. So "a ubiquitous" is standard, because "ubiquitous" begins with a consonant sound: /y/ as in "you". And we write "an hour" because "hour" begins with a vowel sound.

"me and her are going" is not standard English. OK? OK.

However, it IS how many native speakers speak. Many people don't like it, but that won't stop other people using it. As I said before, it is useful to distinguish between opinions about "correctness" and how the language is actually used.

http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/Summer_2004/l...

9 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

What an interesting discussion! I have had so much fun reading individual's attempts at correcting others while making egregious mistakes themselves. I am with Umop and prefer to restrict myself to the question at hand. "Is Zai there?" . . ."Yes, speaking." However, I was taught "This is she" as the correct response so to me "This is her" sounds funny. For the record, English is my second language.

What is most revealing is our never ending compulsion to gauge and judge others by their use of language. (This thread being a fine example of that) I personally tend to side with the "purists", however that does not make me a snob, just a person who takes pride in being well-spoken. Furthermore, when addressing oneself to others it is ones TONE, above their use of language, which reveals any snobbery.

Yes, it "hurts" my ears to hear "Me and my friend . . ." and the like (BTW, John is right when he writes that countless Americans make this mistake) but I refuse to value that for anything more than a common grammatical error; although I will not tolerate it in my household.

So I am left with defending the rules of proper English usage when appropriate and certainly not in a derogatory manner. All the while understanding that language is not static and that the noblest example of an "educated person" is the sincere grace with which they interact with others, even when their use of language is "wrong."

Humbly.
A Communications Professional

P.S. Thanks to John for his insight!

9 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Scenerio#1: Your name is Jane. You are in a room (crowded with people), and someone asks: "Who is Jane?"

Do you say?
1. "This is she!"
2. "This is her!"
3. "I am Jane." or "I am."

CORRECT ANSWER: # 3

Scenerio#2: Your name is Jane. The phone rings, you pick up, and the caller says: "May I speak with Jane?"

Do you answer?
1. "This is she!"
2. "This is her!"
3. "You're speaking to Jane."

CORRECT ANSWER: # 3
Furthermore, I've never heard callers begin a phone conversation by asking: "Who is Jane?" If they would, then #2 would be correct.

On the same note, callers never say: "If Jane is in the office, then I really need to speak to SHE." If that was correct, then the grammatically correct way to answer would be: "This is SHE."
A more grammatically correct way to say this: "If Jane is in the office, then I really need to speak to HER." Then, the correct way to answer would be: "This is HER." or "This is Jane."

9 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

An interesting note:

In Spanish, it is common to respond "soy yo" which means "I'm me".

8 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I have been criticized for saying "Is that her?" or "that's her"...and further criticized for saying it's 'common usage'.

I do say "this is she" as a phone response - but saying "is that she?" just doesn't sound right????

8 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Let me get something straight: why is everybody disagreeing with John? (There, I just posed a question that is worthy of an entire book. Done.).

I mean, face it. He's right. Why? It's called "idiolect." At some point, someone in this thread said something about how absurd it would be if we all had our own personal grammars. Guess what. Absurd or not, that is the reality. Every individual on earth with the faculty for language creates their own linguistic forms based on an entirely personal set of rules called an idiolect. The fact that these idiolects have a lot in common within a given language is what gets us arguing over what is correct and what isn't.

Not to get too far off topic, the question posted nearly 2 years ago was whether "this is she" or "this is her" is correct. The answers to that question have drawn on analogous forms and in some cases, even used the rules of other languages (Latin) to justify English structures!! Talk about absurd. I think the original question is fascinating and John's corollary to it--the issue of copulative verb dependent pronomial case behavior (wow what a mouthful of nounspeak!)--is equally if not more exciting. The problem is, for nearly 2 years, I think the discussion is not gone in the right direction. Listen to John! He wants to get to the bottom of this! How would we answer these questions? First we'd have to look at concrete examples of usage (from literature, or speech, or both) to identify the formal processes that render one structure or another. But that isn't enough, we also need to ask how and why these things happen. Here is where the philological analysis of English pronouns and copulative verbs comes in. Enter: the bookworms. Then we want to know about what speakers actually think about what they say. Just read the posts here on this thread. We might eventually formulate an hypothesis not only about how case works in English pronouns within the context of copulative phrases, but also about the cultural context for this strange grammatical behavior. This is what linguistic anthropologists do! They bother people about how they talk and then they think about it...A LOT. Great stuff, everyone. A lot of good material here.

8 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It's "This is she." Here's why:

The 'is' is like an equal sign in this instance, because sentences like this, "is" shows the state-of-being relationship between the two ideas. "She" is identifying herself in this sentence. 'This' and 'she' are the same thing, and therefore are in the same case (the nominative). It has the exact same structure as "I am an English teacher." "I" and "an English teacher" are both nouns, and both in the nominative case, and are both the subject of the sentence, although in English you can't really reverse them and say "An English teacher am I." Unless you're Yoda.

Someone earlier talked about "This is her" as being possessive. That's correct, in a sense. To say "This is her" you must add an object to the sentence, as in "This is her ball."

You cannot correctly say "This is her speaking," because speaking is not a noun, and therefore cannot be an object. You *could* say "This is her ball," because "ball" is a noun and can be an object. But she OWNS the ball, which is an object.

7 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

wow. im teaching english as a second language and this question came up in class today. after reading this entire page i still have no clue what to say to my students on monday. *sigh*

7 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Speaking a language is such a different activity than driving a car that I don't think your analogy works. We don't learn our native language in the same way we learn to drive a car. We acquire language unconsciously, but we learn to drive consciously. Also, using nonstandard English will not result in death or prosecution.

How do we determine what is correct? I think the only reasonable position is that usage is the final arbiter. Look at the relevant evidence. How can any rules about English usage have no bearing on how English is used by the speakers and writers you want to emulate?

The idea that usage is the final arbiter has a place in discussions about correctness. It is not a new idea; Oldmixon wrote in 1712 that any arbiter besides usage is the "Arbitrary Fancy of a Few, who would impose their own Private Opinions and Practices upon the rest of their Countrymen." It is used by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, which relies on evidence from real writers of English rather than opinions about how some people think English should be used. And they show that a lot of opinions about what is "correct English" don't describe the facts. For instance, "which" is used restrictively by many good writers more often than it is used nonrestrively. Singular "they" has been used for 500 years by the best writers of English.

I'm not saying that "anything goes," I'm saying "look at the relevent evidence." A lot of what we've been taught about "correct grammar" and grammar in general is unhelpful and often wrong. Language does have rules, and they are largely unconscious rules. For instance, no native speaker will normally produce the sentence "It can do easily it." We don't put adverbs between the verb and its object. This is a rule. It is also a rule for many speakers to use accusative pronouns after "be": it's me, it's her. And indeed many good writers use these constructions. Don't use these constructions if you don't want to, but there's no evidence for saying that they are incorrect.

So I am concerned with what is correct. I think a lot of assertions about what is correct are misinformed because they are based on opinions instead of evidence.

Here's an overview of prescriptivism in English:
http://www.uqu.edu.sa/majalat/humanities/2vol15...

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Scott, why are you using Latin as an example?

Lots of people say "this is her". Some people (altho not in my part of the world) say "this is she". They are both acceptable

I think these questions are a good way to determine if something is "right" or not: "do I say it in normal speech?" and "is it understandable?"

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"me and my friend are going out" is how many native speakers use their language. Maybe not you, chuck, but many native speakers do say this. And I don't see what's wrong with educated speakers using this in some contexts - it just means they may not be educated in a certain prescriptive rule that is not part of their native language. And by "educated speakers" I mean my friends who have Canadian university degrees.

Note that I never said that "me and my friend are going out" is standard English as defined by say, Merriam-Webster. I don't think it is. But there are many different kinds of English, and standard English is just one kind.

My point is simply that I think it's useful to distinguish between how native speakers use their language, and the opinions of usage commentators. Because that is all these rules about grammatical correctness are - opinions.

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I don't expect everyone to understand all the rules of grammar since it's not even taught anymore, but I cannot believe this is an issue. Were you never taught this in Elementary school, or by your parents? "This is she" is antiquated but DEFINITELY correct. I promise you. May I be stricken dead this instant if I am wrong.

And that first comment was not meant to insult educators. I'm an English teacher, and I can tell you, the curriculum does not focus on grammar. None of my students have ever diagrammed a sentence.

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

EXCERPT FROM THE CAMBRIDGE GRAMAR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE:

We look at the contrast between nominative and accusative cases. [Nominative =he/she; Accusative=him/her] Here we find a considerable amount of variation and instability in the [English]system. There are a number of constructions where the nominative is asociated with formal style and the accusative being strongly preferred in informal speech and writing. Because of the tendency of older prescriptive grammar texts to accept only formative style as "grammatically correct", there has been a tradition of criticising the accusative alternants, and the stigmatism attaching to such accusatives has given rise to a certain amount of hypercorrection, with nominatives being used in constructions where the traditional rules call for an accusative. There is ONLY one function where the nominative case appears to the exclusion of the accusative, irrespective of style level: as the subject of a finite clause. Compare:

I made up some new curtains(correct) versus Me made up some new curtains (Incorrect)
I think he is mad (correct) versus I think him is mad (Incorrect)


Constructions where both the nominative and accusative forms are in alternation:

Yes it is she. (correct nominative form) versus Yes it is her (correct accusative form)
This is he. These are they. (correct nominative form) versus This is him. These are them. (correct accusative form)
It is I who loves you (correct nominative form) versus It is me who loves you (correct accusative form)
The only one who objected was I. (correct nominative form) versus The only one who objected was me. (correct accusative form)
This one here is I at the age of 12. (Incorrect nominative form) versus This one here is me at the age of 12. (correct accusative form)



The nominative forms are considered very formal-and in response to the question, "Who's there?" the nominative version "It is I" would be widely perceived as pedantic compared with "It is me."
__________________

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am something of a compulsive reader, so I have read every entry. I should have gone to bed long ago instead of bearing witness to people who love to match pedantic wits with each other: a sure sign of an inferiority complex. All I can say is 'Woe is I'

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Scott is correct, as is your second link from press.uchicago.edu.
More precisely, the verb "to be" is a copulative verb, not a transitive verb. As such, it connects not subject and object, but two noun phrases of the same case. see:

http://www.alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxits...

Interestingly, this doesn't mean that you always use the nominative form. The verb "to be" links nominative to nominative or accusative to accusative. As long as the noun on both sides uses the same form.

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

In traditional grammar, the "complement" of a linking (or copulative) very is called the "predicate nominative." Its name indicates the proper case. Subject and predicate nominative are identities. The predicate nominative indicates what the subject IS rather than what the subject DOES. This is the difference between an "action" verb and a "linking" verb.

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The rule ignores the facts of usage. The fact is that native speakers do not say:

That's I.
The best swimmer is he.
The winners are we.

Some speakers of course do say these, but I'm claiming that if they do, they say them because they've been explicitly taught that these forms are "correct."

So the rule does not describe the facts of usage. So how useful is it?

A better rule might be something like this: The object pronouns (me, him, her etc) are the default.
"Me and my friend are going out."
"Who wants to go? Not me!"
"She is taller than me."

The subject pronouns (I, he, she etc) are only used in a few cases:

- as the single subject before the verb: "I am going out."
Repeat the pronoun for emphasis, and it revert to object form: "Me, I am going out."

- in certain compound constructions after a preposition, for instance "between you and I".

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

John, I, too studied, linguistics, and can appreciate where you are coming from about linguists describing what the norm is, and not prescribing the rules.
I, however, have bones of contention with the approach you've taken. This concept of native speakers and numbers cannot hold when you realise that put together, the greatest number of English speakers resides not with the Northern American countries and England, but in the Asian countries like India and China, where the largest populations of people in the world hold sway. There are at least 250 milllion Chinese nationals who speak English (as of last count in Jan 2007), and the number extrapolates astronomically when you realise the penetration of the English Language across school classroom curricula. Very soon, if we base the ownership of English grammar rules on the mere size and commonality of the language's occurrence, then you will eventually see both India and China prescribing rules for the rest of the world to follow, including America, Canada and England. The learning of English in China, at least, requires the reliance on prescriptive rules, and at a young age of junior school, they are taught these so-called 'dead-rules', or 'snobbish English rules', which is an irony since these prescriptivisms derive themselves from the West. With your argument, phrases like "long-time-no-see (literal chinese translation), and "clever bug" for the English term "spider" are recently coined terms which have penetrated Global English's lexicon, and are perfectly understood by Chinese speakers of English. Now, should this population of Asian English speakers continue to expand at an exponential rate (also thanks to Bejing's hosting of the Olympics), you will soon find the "archaic" rules and Chinese-coined English terms being the "norm", and eventually the descriptive rules.

Food for thought: San Diego-based consultancy Global Language Monitor (GLM) has noted that new Chinglish expressions are being coined daily in China. As these new denominations of linguistic currency circulate online, English's lexical bank grows richer by the day. "Because of China's growing influence, it now has more impact on Global English than native English-speaking countries. That's pretty astonishing," said GLM president Paul JJ Payack. It also found that Chinglish had contributed 5 to 20 percent of the words added to Global English since 1994, more than any other single source.

Your very argument will soon fail you, and 10 years down the line, the "archaic" may get a retro-revival, all thanks to these New Asian English Speakers.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Is "to be" the only copulative verb in English? It sure seems like it; I can't think of another that works this way.

Note that members of the contrast class to this really shouldn't be called "action" verbs, because not all of them *do* describe what an object does. Consider the verb "to have." There's no sense in which this describes an action, but it definitely takes accusative, not nominative, case:

I have her and she has me.
*I have she and she has I. (Unless you're Tom Lehrer.)

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

John, this is where you will be interested to know that there are many native speakers of English in Asia, because English is by nature of its easy assimilation of foreign language words an international language. It has its roots in its Anglo Saxon origins, but to implicitly claim that people in Asia are not native speakers of English suggests that only those in western Europe, Canada and the rest of Northern America are Native English Speakers.

In fact, you should know that in Singapore, a country in SE Asia, English is its first language.

Also, your assertion that "not anything goes" is on its own a fallacy, because if a sizeable number of people started speaking in poetic language rather than in common prose, your positioning of adverbs and adjectives goes 'awry'.

Like it or not, if you had to teach children the rules of English, I wonder which population of English speakers you can refer to? Because sooner or later, judging from where your part of town is, it's not going to have the majority of speakers of English.

Come to Asia, and hear English as it is taught, not as it is treated by the whims and fancies of those who had made unconscious errors and have decided to casually abandon all they've been taught (depending on which space and time they exist) for the sake of "natural evolution" of language.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This is interesting. I was just called up by a company calling me in for a job interview. I answered the call with "this is she". Afterwards i wasn't sure if I answered correctly, so i typed the phrase into google..... Well, considering that from all the posts above, there isn't any general consensus on what's right or wrong, I don't think the person on the other line would think my English was poor, she might just be a little bit confused! A big relief!

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

<i>"You cannot correctly say “This is her speaking,” because speaking is not a noun, and therefore cannot be an object."</i>

"Speaking" is a noun if used as a gerund. It represents the act of speaking, and it is <i>her</i> action. However, even though this may be grammatically correct, I agree that this meaning is slightly different from what the speaker probably intends. I think the intention is that "this" equates to "she/her" (with "speaking", if included, being a present participle describing "she/her"). Therefore, it all comes back to whether an objective noun is appropriate on the trailing side of a linking verb.

I was taught in school that it is acceptable to violate rules of grammar if you do so knowingly to better communicate, not out of ignorance or laziness. If you are speaking in a context where saying "This is she" or "It is I" would incorrectly communicate an air of pretentiousness, then using a less formal form is probably more "correct" in that it better communicates your intention.

Languages are fluid. The rules are always changing. Any choice of words is only as correct as its ability to deliver the desired meaning. It really comes down to knowing your audience.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I think the Suite101.com example is clearly wrong in its explanation. There is no "object" in the sentence "This is she." "IS" is a linking verb, therefore there is a subject and a predicate nominative.

My mother summed it up well:

Use "she" b/c it is the predicate nominative case (the implied sentence is, "this person speaking is she").

"This is her speaking" is incorrect too. Because again, you have a linking verb. You can't use an object form with a linking verb; you have to use a P.N.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"technically correct"

I don't like that phrase. It implies to me that there is a Manual of English that explains the hard and fast rules of all English for all time, and also that such rules even exist. Also, I wonder about the cognitive dissonance produced by thinking that something is "technically correct" but seldom used.

As I say above, from a descriptive point of view, I'm thinking that the subject-object distinction in pronouns is becoming obsolete. Instead we have a situation with default pronouns (me, him, her etc), which are replaced by marked pronouns (I, he, she etc) in certain situations.

The fact is that this is something that usage writers disagree about. Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage gives an overview of the arguments, then says

"Clearly, both the it is I and It's me patterns are in reputable use and have been for a considerable time. It is I tends to be used in more formal or more stuffy situations; it's me predominates in real and fictional speech and in a more relaxed writing style. Him, her, us, and them my be less common after the verb to be than me is, but they are far from rare and are equally good."

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Those who wish to sound well-educated and believe supposed "correct English" takes priority over effective (and/or aurally pleasing) communication, please note that there are plenty of people who think you sound pretentious/snobby/hypercorrective/anal. So while you may think you are showing off your education, you are instead revealing a tedious low-minded obsession with superficial shibboleths, like a morbidly obese trailer mom submitting her pre-K daughter to beauty pageants.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I think all this is very interesting. I was taught in an English Grammar Theory course that languages, and the rules governing them, are organic. They are not static and evolve over time. Factors that influence changes almost always involve audience and usage. Although I understand the usefulness of prescriptive rules, I do find it trite to hover and debate over an issue like this. Could it be that usage pattern is eroding formal structure. Is this a bad thing?

I tend to get nervous when language is used as a tool for social demarcation - much like a previous comment which equated improper usage with mental deficiency or low social status. I don't believe communication is relegated to the wealthy - and isn't that the purpose of language? To communicate?

I say, "this is her," because it is natural to my tongue. Never once did the person on the other end misunderstand me. If they noticed and assumed I was from a trailer park or without mental function, they never let on. Answering a phone is not taking the SAT. Plus when I say "this is she," I feel 50 years older.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I agree with Krystal (and half of the posts) that "This is her" is more natural to the tongue, and that I feel 18th century by saying "This is she." However, I was corrected on this by a caller just the other day.

As a side note, I feel that it is inappropriate to be correcting people's spoken grammar in a professional setting, you are not my 3rd grade teacher. If you want to think I'm an idiot, that is okay. Although, with the amount of debate on the subject, I don't think anyone has the right to make that strict judgement call, its not like I said "This be her".

But, alas, in the future I think I will just avoid the controversy in general.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Derek, I was talking about native English speakers. Most of the English speakers in Asia are not native speakers as far as I know. Otherwise, I don't disagree.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

THIS IS SHE!

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"This is hers" would mean that the item belongs to her, not "this is her."

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

But if I replace "Sarah" with "she" in any other context, I get ungrammatical English: "May I speak with she?"

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This discussion takes me back to before middle school, so many moons ago, to my dad's correcting me over and over about the way I answered the telephone. To my young southern ears, it sounded SO wrong to say, "This is she," that it couldn't possibly be right!

Eventually I learned to hear, "This is she," as correct, and later still, I learned the grammatical rules behind its correctness. But still I remember my young ears in their innocence and ignorance, their egocentricity, and that memory keeps me humble.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Just speaking as someone who googled the keywords "this is she correct grammar" and stumbled across this exchange, thank you!

'This is she' sounds better in my head, so it is a relief that many people consider it grammatically correct.

On the other hand, as much as I love to have technically correct language, I always follow the immortal Dana Scully and say,

"It's me!"

I never say,

"It is I."

If it's good enough for Scully, it's good enough for me.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I think you should just avoid the situation entirely by pretending to be someone else and giving the phone to "her"...maybe even do an accent...you have to make life interesting somehow...

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"To those claiming that 'it is I' or 'this is I' is correct: We say 'I AM this,' not 'I IS this.' How do you explain or justify the subject pronoun 'I' not agreeing with the verb?"

"That's a good question, Lia. How is a 1st person pronoun (I) made to agree with a verb form (is) in the 3rd person -- as in 'That's I', which it would be 'I is that' in reverse? Anyone?"

This question is a red herring; the answer has nothing to do with the "it is I/it's me" argument.

It's nothing more complicated than this: the verb agrees with its subject. Reverse the phrase and your subject changes from third to first person, so the verb changes too.

If the subject is "that" then "be" must be third person singular ("is"). If the subject is "I" then "be" must be first person singular ("am").

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Look at what I did on related ones. Of course "This is she" is correct.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

John, native English can only go so far. English is, after all, native to England, where the most common response we would have received from the great literary figures while English developed would have been:
"Who are you?"
" 'Tis I, Willy Shakespeare, the Great..."
Clearly, an answer in favor of "it is she", therefore "this is she", not "this is her."
Besides, most natives aren't even native. I belive you're using the term loosely and in reference to Americans. Well, the native americans didn't even speak English. Having said this, maybe we should look for Indian grammar rules, not Latin derivations.
And to those of us that are looking for answers with more research, please remember that Wikipedia is yet another website with postings from mere 'native' speakers.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

J Asly, I'm not sure what you're talking about. I'm talking about native English speakers: people who have English as a native language, whether they're American, Canadian, British, etc. I'm not sure what you're trying to say with Shakespeare. Shakespeare used both "it's me" and "it's I", he mixed up "who" and "whom", he used "between you and I".

Finally, perhaps an intro course in linguistics would help to explain where I'm coming from:

http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/Summer_2004/l...

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Does the use of "this is her" instead of "this is she" obscure, or create any confusion about, the intended meaning?

No?

Then why does it matter if "her" is used rather than "she"?

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"The verb 'to be' does not take an object."

Then "him" in the following example should be "he"?

I would not want to be him

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh goodness, we can beat this topic again and again, but for what? The way I see it, hell if the person understood what the heck you were saying, then by golly, by all means you've made your point! =D

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I use she and I. "This is she" when answering the phone, or " this is I" or "it is I" as well. I have children of school age that I want to go to college, I want them to go far in life. I try to prevent them from using slang, especially today's slang which is just horrible, because as they grow older and go on interviews and go into the business world, I want them to sound intelligent and for them to stand out. I do not think using proper English is snobbery, but I do think it might be becoming a lost art.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Isn't it the difference between common language and the proper gramma language as thought in the TOEFL.?

"This is her" would mean This belong to her.
"This is she" would mean that we talk about the actual person and not about something, which belong to that person.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage page 568:

"Clearly, both the it is I and It's me patterns are in reputable use and have been for a considerable time. It is I tends to be used in more formal or more stuffy situations; it's me predominates in real and fictional speech and in a more relaxed writing style. Him, her, us, and them my be less common after the verb to be than me is, but they are far from rare and are equally good."

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Actually, John, Abby Normal's analogy with speed limit rules is right on target. You failure to see the clarity of the analogy goes directly to her opening suggestion: as you take the stance of a linguist (observer) rather than grammarian (prescriber), then your opinions and viewpoints are irrelevant -- and in fact distracting -- in any discussion of what is CORRECT. So if the query is "which is correct", your response is not germaine.

By the way, I love your user name, Abby!

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This is by far the most interesting bunch of answers to a supposedly simple question.

My grandma never bothered with "this is she/her" when someone called and asked if Mrs Nolan was there or if they may/can speak to Mrs Nolan. Her reply, after a slight pause was always: "she passed away last night".

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I love that people keep asking about the grammatical correctness of idiomatic expressions. Is it correct to say 'can't be beat?' Um, it's an idiom. The point is not whether it's grammatically correct. The point is: This is what people say. It's an expression in common usage and any question of the rules related to the expression is (as far as I'm concerned) moot.

In the same way, we could ask whether 'This is her' is correct. Well, no - it's not (based on the preponderance of evidence and opinion gathered here). But as a perfectly understandable response to a telephoned question, it seems a little silly that anyone would worry about it.

I guess it's true that certain constructions (and even idioms) in common usage are rotten to their core. I'd argue, in fact, that John's now infamous "My friend and me are going out later" (or something like that) is totally unacceptable. If I heard someone say this I would be awfully tempted to suggest an alternative construction. It sounds terrible to my ears, but that's just me. (Or is it 'That's just I?')

That said...I'm a total geek for this stuff and love the passion that people bring to such a wonky conversation. Fight on, militant grammarians!

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I always answer the phone at work with "This is she". While I just heard my co-worker used "This is her".

I don't think "This is her" makes sense because I am left feeling this is her ...what? Her sister, nanny?

"This is she" is one of the correct answers. You can also say "This is Abby".

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

As has been said above, the verb 'be' is a copular or linking verb, so doesn't take an object, but what is variously called a subject complement or subject predicate, just as they take predicative adjectives rather than adverbs - she is pretty, but she sings prettily.

In theory that means they should take subject form pronouns - I, he, she etc. But hardly anyone speaks like that, if indeed they ever did. We seem to be very reluctant to use subject pronouns when they are not followed by a verb. 'Hi Mum, it's me' is normal standard English. 'Hi Mum, it is I' would be hopelessly formal. And notice that 'it's I' just wouldn't work.

It's the same with non-linking verbs - 'Who said that?' - 'Not me'. - Nobody would say 'Not I' - well, hardly anybody. And if we find 'not me' too informal there's a neutral version - 'I didn't'

The problem is that some people seem to think that formal English is standard English when most people rarely use it. As a prominent linguist said recently on Language Log - 'Informal is normal'

If anyone's interested I've written about this (for foreign learners) at:
http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2011/10...

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Here's a linguistic thesis on "me and her" vs "she and I" and how conjoined pronouns behave differently than single pronouns

http://www-csli.stanford.edu/~zwicky/Grano.fina...

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

<blockquote>What is most revealing is our never ending compulsion to gauge and judge others by their use of language.</blockquote>
Well, what is it you think it reveals?  (And why is it that you think it is a compulsion?)

Language is a representation of thought.  Poorly formed language indicates poorly formed thought.  True, sometimes that apparent indication mistakenly apprehended, such as when the language is not the native language of the speaker.

We use all manner of indicators to evaluate the people around us in a variety of categories.  This is not necessarily snobbery; it might merely be developing a “profile” of the person so as to choose a communication style that will be best received—I speak differently to teenagers and pentegenarians.

Equally proper, but equally poorly received is “It is I,” rather than that which most would say, “It is me.”  Yet, “It is I” is the proper statement of the two.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Again, you haven't provided any evidence that "it is me" is improper. I've cited a usage book (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage) saying that it is correct in informal English. If you have a usage book saying that "it is me" is improper English in every and all contexts, I'd like to know.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I've seen the light: always answer the query "May I speak to X?" with "This is s/he." Similarly, when you knock on a door and someone inside asks, "Who is it?" you should say, "It is I." That way, everyone will know right up front that you have a twig in your mudhole about speaking 18th Century English and they can adjust their attitudes accordingly.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Guys,

So which is which? I really felt bad after a phone interview when I said "This is her". Should I?

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

To those claiming that "it is I" or "this is I" is correct: We say "I AM this," not "I IS this." How do you explain or justify the subject pronoun "I" not agreeing with the verb?

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Wow, little did I know when I first started reading these comments, that they would still be going FIVE years since the very first...!

Okay, to me?
Grammatically, there can only be one absolutely correct way of phrasing it, and that would be "This is she". Grammar is a set of rules, admittedly some of it might be archaic and sound awkward due to linguistic drift, but the rules are pretty absolute. Whether you agree with the rule or not is a linguistic issue, not a grammatical one.

Language, however, now that is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Linguistically, either is 'correct', or rather, nothing is incorrect, as language does indeed evolve.

Or at least, that is how I choose to understand this "debate". Oh, and if I had to choose, I would say "This is he", although more often than not, I preempt the question by answering the phone simply with "Hello, Jonathan."

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@ Folie. Yes, that's correct.

You can think of it as:
(pointing to the girl) This is she...
(then pointing to her father) and this is her father.

In fact, "This is her and her father" (as my wife would say it) sounds rather awkward to my ears...unless, of course, you are referring to something that is possessed by both her and her father, as in "This is her and her father's boat." :)

cheers!

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Thanks AO, for being another voice of reason here.

I find it incredible that in anything other field, scientific enquiry is respected. But when it comes to language, if we look at the evidence - that is, how the language is actually used - we're either ignored or insulted.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"This is her," is not wrong. Only annoying pedants think it is wrong. Language is not a logical entity; anyone who's ever learned a foreign language will be quick to tell you that. (Russians, for example, say "We and the wife are going to the movies.")

It's not even something English speakers made up; it's a construction we took from French, which is often exalted as a "better" language than English by English speakers. The famous French phrase "C'est moi" (lit. "It's me") is a perfect example. And yes, for "This is him" or "This is he," French speakers do say "C'est lui" instead of "C'est il." (German, meanwhile, avoids the whole fiasco by placing the subject in the front, as in "Ich bin's," lit. "I'm it.")

In short: more annoying pedantry from the anti-change lobby who don't understand how language works.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Totally and completely incorrect! Objects of the sentence/verb follow action verbs [mailed,talk,thought, did], not linking verbs [is, are, was]. The object of the verb answers the question "who" or what" after the verb. "She mailed the letter." "She mailed what?" The letter = the object. The object receives the action of the verb. When a pronoun follows a linking verb as in, "It is she," the verb is a linking verb, so the pronoun that follows is a predicate nominative. You need to be able to turn the sentence around, to wit: "It is she," and "She is it." If one says, "It is her," "Her is it" isn't going to fly. Now I admit that in common speech, most people say, "It is her." Totally correct and preferable speech is an ever more rare thing, for example, the use of the disappearing subjunctive. When incorrect speech has been around long enough, we tend to think it "correct"; whereas, it is simply accepted as such. "It is she" is formal, completely correct, and, therefore, standard English. Check a grammar text on line should you doubt this.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Sian, If you look up "shall" at dictionary.com, there is a somewhat abstruse usage note about "shall" vs. "will". Perhaps it is a little easier to compare "should" vs. "would". At least in some contexts, "shall" has an implied sense of compulsion. I shall do something that is imperative, that I am supposed to do. I will do something that I am surely going to do.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Okay, let&rsquo;s look at the cases that the two sides have made. In favor of &ldquo;her&rdquo;:

-Pretty much everyone says &ldquo;her&rdquo;.
-&ldquo;She&rdquo; sounds funny.
-&ldquo;To be&rdquo; takes the objective case in other situations, such as &ldquo;That&rsquo;s him over there.&rdquo;
-The object of a verb takes the objective case, and this gives every indication of being the object, so it takes the objective case.

In favor of &ldquo;she&rdquo;:

-Because I said so.

I mean, really, that&rsquo;s what all the arguments come down to.

>The verb &ldquo;to be&rdquo; acts as a linking verb, equating subject and object.
>So this is she and she is this; &ldquo;she&rdquo; and &ldquo;this&rdquo; are one and the same,
>interchangeable, and to be truly interchangeable they must both play
>the same grammatical role&mdash;that of the subject.

So, &ldquo;to be&rdquo; is special type of verb, that follows rules completely different from the rule that all the other verbs follow. Why? Because I said so. The idea that because they are interchangeable in FACT, they must be the same GRAMMATICALLY is absurd. According to that logic, every noun should take exactly the same pronoun regardless of its case. And if they are truly interchangeable, why must they take the same CASE, but not the same PERSON? So both &ldquo;It is I&rdquo; and &ldquo;It is me&rdquo; are wrong, since &ldquo;it&rdquo; is third person, and &ldquo;I&rdquo; and &ldquo;me&rdquo; are first. &ldquo;I am Sarah&rdquo; is also incorrect.

>But instead you are replacing the word "I" with "this"
> and "Sarah" with the nominative pronoun, in this case "she."

But it&rsquo;s the object, so it should take the objective pronoun.

>I am almost certain that the correct phrase is "This is she".
>This is because you can ask, "May I please speak TO her?"
>but in that case, you are using it directly. I like to swap the
>phrase making it "she is this" or "she is who is speaking"
>and it just makes more sense, yes?

But when you swap the phrase, you swap the pronouns. Why on Earth would you think otherwise? For instance, &ldquo;He hit her&rdquo;, but &ldquo;She hit him&rdquo;. When you change the order, you also change the pronouns. So &ldquo;she is this&rdquo; but &ldquo;this is her&rdquo;.

>Insisting that nominative pronouns must follow 'be' ignores what "fact"?

Umm&hellip; the fact that pronouns in the objective case take the objective case?

>Hey Jen,
>Ok, so your lesson has passed now, but here's what you tell your students:
> "this is she" is technically correct but "this is her" is often used.
>Done.

How is it &ldquo;technically&rdquo; correct? Because someone made up a rule about how &ldquo;to be&rdquo; is a special type of verb that follows a completely different rule, even though virtually no one actually follows that rule?

>We use "a" before a consonant sound and "an" before a vowel sound.
>So "a ubiquitous" is standard, because "ubiquitous" begins with a
>consonant sound: /y/ as in "you".
>And we write "an hour" because "hour" begins with a vowel sound.

And people who talk funny write &ldquo;an historian&rdquo;.
>Mitre, you are incorrect. In the sentence "If Jane is in the office,
>then I really need to speak to her," the proper word is "her"
>because it is the object of a preposition.

No, it takes the objective case because it&rsquo;s the object of a VERB. Being the object of a preposition is irrelevant.

>Ben, the correct sentence is "You are smarter than I,"
>because the understood ending of the sentence is
>"You are smarter than I am smart." "You are smarter
>than me am smart" would never make sense.

IF one intends the elliptical meaning, THEN &ldquo;I&rdquo; is correct. However, according to the literal meaning of the sentence, &ldquo;me&rdquo; is the correct word.

>John, this is where you will be interested to know that
>there are many native speakers of English in Asia,
>because English is by nature of its easy assimilation of
>foreign language words an international language.

Many? How much is &ldquo;many&rdquo;? Why do I meet so many Asians who aren&rsquo;t native speakers, if English is so common?

>May I be stricken dead this instant if I am wrong.
Shouldn&rsquo;t that be &ldquo;struck&rdquo;?

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I like to just say "Speaking" instead of either!
Easier and shorter :)

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

#caller - "Good morning, is this Jane Smith?" / "Can I please speak with Ms Smith?"

# Jane Smith - "Speaking."

Problem solved, thank you very much.
I can't believe this argument has gone on for so long.

Yes there's a difference between what people speak now and sounds acceptable, and what the rules say sounded acceptable once. One of the joys of English is that it is fluid and not so rigid and stuck behind grammar rules... see split infinitives and prepositions on the end of sentences, and various others (probably all with posts as long as this one).

Say what you want on the phone, either you'll sound normal, or pretentious, or dumb depending on what side of this argument the other person believes in... either way, it shouldn't cause a problem.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

amazed, could you please explain how using a language is like driving a car?

What about languages with prescriptive manuals? If we keep to this analogy, we must assume that speakers of these languages might be "speeding" whenever they use their language, since there are no written rules for them to follow.

What about speakers of English who lived before the 18th century (which is when prescriptive grammar was invented)? Were Chaucer, Spencer and Shakespeare speeding when they used their language? Would their works have been better if there was a cop telling them what to do?

In my opinion and in the opinion of many other usage commentators, "correct" means "what is used by good writers". In other words, usage is the final arbiter. I don't see how this view is irrelevant to the discussion of correctness. How can the rules have no bearing on how English is used by the writers you want to emulate?

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Ben, you seem to have a misunderstanding of what linguists do. Linguists are not in the business of telling people what is "correct" or "incorrect." Rather, linguists describe how the language is used. See the links I gave.

For coordinated pronouns, see the thesis I linked to.

copula: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copula

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"This is she." Is the correct usage. This isn't a matter of what is common, sounds better, or what you happen to use. Right and wrong are still two very different things and there are no grey areas in the rules of proper grammar. If everyone went around robbing banks we still wouldn't grant them the allowance just because it's "common". Languages were set up to make some sort of logical sense and follow a set of rules. When you stop following those rules you are no longer speaking that language, but instead, a warped derivative. You may use whichever method you wish, but know still that the only correct way is the right way and that way is "This is she."

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"speaking" is a verb like "running" is a verb... Do you say - "This is her running." LOL! If you do.. my question to you is... Is it YOUR running?

On the other hand

"speech" is a noun as "ball" is a noun... so you say, "This is her ball." You would ask... "Is this her ball?" you don't ask "Is this she ball?"

The point here is, "THIS IS SHE" is the correct term.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

If I point to a picture of the subject and identify the person in question, I say "This is her." I see no difference between that and the telephone answer, this.is.her

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Language is a representation of thought. Poorly formed language indicates poorly formed thought."

Depends what you mean by poorly formed language. If "it is me" is poorly formed, and if poorly formed language indicates poorly formed thought (whatever "poorly formed thought" means), then we have to conclude that many native speakers are guilty of poorly formed thought every time they speak - because they are not adhering to a certain linguistic norm. But this is ridiculous. There are situations where "it is me" is appropriate and there are situations where "it is I" is appropriate. It makes no sense to judge one dialect or register by the standards of another dialect or register.

But of course we *do* judge one dialect or register by the standards of another dialect or register whenever we say that so-and-so uses "bad grammar". This is a social issue, but it has nothing to do with the way language works.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I agree that "I" is nominative and "me" is accusative. What I don't agree with is that the nominative must follow the verb "be". What is the evidence for this? Accusative pronouns have been used after "be" since the 1600s. Dictionaries and usage books recognize it as correct, at least in some contexts. My understanding is that the "rule" that "be" must be followed by the nominative is based on an analogy with Latin.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I say the simplest way to ensure grammatical correctness is to ensure situational correctness. "This is he/him/she/her" is in almost ALL cases situationally incorrect when answering the phone. The correct situational AND therefor grammatical answer should be to answer the question you are asked. Your answer should almost always be "yes". If someone asks if Jane is there and you reply with "this is she/her", you have not answered the question directly and honestly. "Is Jane there?" ... "Yes" or "She is". "May I speak to Jane?" ... "Yes, you may" or even... "You are". If you are a person who absolutely MUST quantify statements, then I suppose "This is Jane" would be most situationally and gramatically correct. I may be a smart alec, but my grammar is correct.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Umop, you are a smart alec, but that doesn't make your grammar any better. No one is obligated to answer a question exactly as phrased. We are not robots. Nor do social obligations require us in any way to answer so literally. When someone answers "Do you know what time it is?" with simply "yes", at best, they are guilty of a poor attempt at humor, and at worst, are rude, obnoxious and dull-witted. Their answer is not contextually or situationally correct in any way. Their response bears no relationship to grammar, good or bad, and is irrelevant.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I should have said that no one in my part of the world says "this is she." I know that many people do say it. But even for those people, using the subject case after "be" is only used in a restricted set of cases.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Nana - OK, I'd like to respond to this by commenting on Chris Haller's comment form way back on this thread. Chris sees two schools of thought on grammar - those who put the rules first, and those who put usage first, and says he's proud to be one of the first group.

I'm curious to know where Chris and you think grammar rules originally came from, if not from usage. The earliest English grammar books appeared in the late sixteenth century century and were purely observational - they looked at how English was used and tried to show it as a system. One of the most accessible is that of Ben Jonson - "The English Grammar" of 1640. It was Jonson who said "Custom is the most certain mistress of language".

Then along came the prescriptivists, who felt the need to tidy the language up a bit, either by aligning it more with Latin, making hard-and-fast rules from what had merely been majority use, or just making up rules according to their own whims.

At this point let's make it absolutely clear that the vast majority of English grammar is totally uncontroversial. I think we can all agree that a sentence like "If I will see him, I tell him" is ungrammatical. There would be nothing illogical in using a future form in both clauses, as for example happens in Polish. But our system of conditionals has developed through usage.Not surprisingly, as they are the only area where we still have grammatical case, pronouns represent the area where there is probably the greatest disagreement.

Generally recognised as the first prescriptivist is Robert Lowth. In his "A Short Introduction to English Grammar with Critical Notes", 1762, he took Shakespeare to task for writing "Who servest thou under" and "Who do you speak to". And prescriptivist grammarians have insisted on "whom" ever since. Yet as early as 1772, other grammarians, like Joseph Priestley (whose "The Rudiments of English Grammar" had originally appeared a year before Lowth's book) commented "Dr Lowth says that grammar requires us to say 'Whom do you think me to be'. But in conversation we always hear 'Who do you think me to be' ".

Priestley also wrote:

"All our grammarians say, that the nominative cases of pronouns ought to follow the verb substantive as well as precede it; yet many familiar forms of speech, and the example of some of our best writers, would lead us to make a contrary rule -, or, at least, would leave us at liberty to adopt which we liked best. ... Who is there? It is me. ... It is not me you are in love with. Addison. (It cannot be me. Swift. To that which once was there. Prior. There is but one man that she -can have, and that is me. Clarissa."

The problem comes when 'the rules' are completely out of kilter with standard educated practice. Suggesting that the norm is "Hi Mum, it is I", when only a tiny minority of educated speakers would say such a thing, isn't doing anyone any favours either - it is totally artificial. Which is why EFL learners are taught "it's me" - in other words, natural English. Back to the common sense of Priestly:

"But our grammarians appear to me to have acted precipitately in this business,
and to have taken a wrong method of fixing our language. This will never be effected by the arbitrary rules of any man, or body of men whatever; because these suppose the language actually fixed already, contrary to the real state of it: whereas a language can never be properly fixed, till all the varieties with which it is used, have been held forth to public view, and the general preference of certain forms have been declared, by the general practice afterwards.

Whenever I have mentioned any variety in the grammatical forms that are used to express the same thing, I have seldom scrupled to say which of them I prefer; but this is to be understood as nothing more than a conjecture, which time must confirm or refute."

And time has indeed confirmed that, even though the 'rule' may say that a copular verb is followed by a predicate nominative (or subject complement as we call it in EFL), most educated English speakers have a great reluctance to use nominative (subject) forms when they are not followed by a verb. It is simply not natural English. And natural English is far more important in my book than any arbitrary rules.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

GUYS! lets analyze... THIS, THAT, THESE, THOSE are demonstrative pronoun... SHE, IT, HE, THEY WE, are subjective pronouns..REMEMBER! IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR: there's always and exception to the rule. on a telephone conversation... the caller doesn't know who he/she is talking/speaking with...then asks for a specific name... ex. "May I speak to Roy?"... luckily, Roy is the one speaking... since there is a medium being used...Roy informs the caller that he is already speaking to Roy. " This is he" means this is Roy, but since the one speaking is Roy, it is considered to be the first person, using the 3rd person pronoun and not a receiver of the action. This - demonstrative pronoun, is - linking verb, Roy - noun if reversed could still be the subject of the sentence and not an object. "This is/ That's him/her" would be right if your mean another person as the object of the sentence or the one being talked about...

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

That's a good question, Lia. How is a 1st person pronoun (I) made to agree with a verb form (is) in the 3rd person -- as in "That's I", which it would be "I is that" in reverse? Anyone?

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

In my experience of phoning US customers "This is she" is an Americanism spoken by women only - i.e. the corresponding "this is he" does not exist. In Britain we'd say "that's me", or "speaking", or even "I'm Peter". If the question was "Is that Peter" I would say "yes" or "yes, that's right". The first time I heard "this is she" I thought the customer was being ironic because she was being asked if she was, say, Janet, by an unidentified caller. But now I realise it is a perfectly normal answer from American women - no idea why they don't just say "Yes"!

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Excuse me Jasper but this thread started with the sentence "A common example is the phrase “This is she.” used to answer a telephone."

I am not discussing the pros and cons of "This is she" and "This is her" just saying that (a) no-one says either in British English (ever) and definitely not "this is she" which would sound so weird that if you'd only ever heard one American say it you would have thought they were being sarcastic
(b) in my experience of speaking to US customers over the past 13 years I have never heard a man say either "This is he" or "This is him".

That is all. I am just saying, for the benefit of foreign learners of English, that this is an American female usage (we Brits answer these questions on the phone in a totally different way, as in my limited but not inconsiderable experience do American males).

So my knowledge of formal grammar is irrelevant. I am talking about my knowledge of usage. OK?

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

John-

Well, yah, of course we get ignored or insulted! In our corner of the world, language is the yardstick that we use to measure each other's intelligence. When you talk ABOUT language, you risk "threatening" people. Language plays such a fundamental role in structuring the Universe itself (down to the smallest sub-atomic particle) that pointing out its plasticity is, frankly, quite scary. Most people don't realize, for example, that many academic papers have been written in Krio. Not ON Krio. IN Krio. And as for intelligence, you mentioned Pirahã at some point, if I recall correctly. Documentation of this language by Indo-European-speaking anthropologists has come to redefine our understanding of the meaning of "intelligence."

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I'm not a native speaker of English,but I am an English teacher and I'm currently applying for a job in British schools. If a head teacher ring me to ask me for an interview, then what do I say when they ask for me? You all disagree on what is correct, so maybe you can just tell me what is the normal thing to say? what will this head teacher expect me to say in a formal job interview setting? (Without me sounding too posh, because I'm not). This is her or this is she?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Here's the quandary that brought me to this site:
'No one could entertain like her and Ed.'
vs
'No one could entertain like she and Ed.'
I find that the easiest way to know which is grammatically correct is to add a word or phrase, and subtract a word or phrase.
'No one could entertain like her could entertain.'
'No one could entertain like she could entertain.'

Clearly, I'm going with 'she' over 'her', no matter how 'snobby' it may sound to others. As to whether the choice of 'she' vs 'her' will cause the Earth to slip off its axis, I'm fairly certain it will not. Using 'proper' English grammar is not, however, a waste of time, or evidence of snobbery. It's a conscious effort to retain some order in a formal language, which (imho) is a mark of a civilised society. A 'breakdown' in such formal order is not always a good thing. Reducing to the most common denominator might work in arithmetic; but in society - not so very much, I think.

Beverly Sutton Lawrence
'What the World needs now are MORE SQUIRRELS! Then, there would be fewer NUTS running around, loose! (or running for public office!)'

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Avrom, here is an allegedly complete list of english copula:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_co...

Note, none of them seem to allow a sentence with the same me/I, him/he her/she issues to be constructed.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

THIS IS SHE/HE the end

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I agree with the last comment (Roar) that the most logical way to answer is to say 'That's me'. While either 'she' or 'her', or both, may be correct grammatically, its strange to refer to yourself that way. I always thought 'me' is how you refer to yourself and 'she' or 'her' are the way other people refer to you. If someone asks 'who's that' you say 'its me'. Whether you are answering that you are the one speaking or whether you are equating yourself with who the caller is asking for, is a moot point. Because as the one answering you can interpret the question as you like.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The verb "to be" does take an object. "This is she" is the correct form.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Wow, I wonder if the original poster ever thought their question would trigger a five year debate of the topic.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I believe that the correct expression, formal or familiar, is: "The is her" speaking or not. "Her" is the object of the sentence. No one should every say, "This is she here" I agree that the best way is: "Yes, here" or "Yes, speaking".

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

<Phone rings>
Caller: "Hello, is Wendy there?"
Wendy: "This is she."
Caller: "I think you mean, this is her?"
<Click>

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

She is the one to whom the caller is speaking is she not? Who is speaking to the caller? She is not her is! She is the subjective, right? So if you are talking about your self with the verb to be you must use she.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Well, it's nominative, since it's a predicate nominative following a linking verb, renaming or explaining the subject which, in "This is she," is "This." If you read the postings from January 2010, all of that was gone into exhaustively with polite and understated ire aplenty. It all boils down to "correct by what standard?" Formal English? Colloquial English? For <i>formal/standard</i> English, Elle, you're absolutely correct: it must be "she." What Melissa says above is true. The more properly one speaks, the more likely one is to be branded as a snob. Odd, since I'd never correct or speak down to someone who made an error in the course of conversation, but I've been told I was incorrect when the opposite was true and accused of snobbery when I simply and politely defended what I originally said.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

NUTS to static rules of English. Long ago did they cease to keep pace with rapidly evolving usage such as our burgeoning mother tongue affords; yea, do not some posts in this very thread which strive to follow said laws provoke a disgust most visceral among the unpretentious? Further, why should it be so that those 'elite' posters at whom the above broadside was leveled bristle at so-called non-standard patternage, yet feel quite at ease violating, say, the rule of indentation governing the start of a paragraph? Hypocrisy, cry I! Stilted, atavistic, inflexible hypocrisy!

I'm with John, if I discern his stance correctly. "This is she" may be the construction of choice as per a consensus of style manuals, but to follow, for example, "May I speak to her?" with "This IS she" smacks more of haughtiness and rudeness than it be an indication of an mind well educated. And while some may think "Me and him are friends" an affront to erudite sensibilities, sure as Hell I ain't deigning to correct a body what says it.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Wow, this is quite a thread! This discussion started with the proper way to answer a phone when saying "This is she/her." Is there something special about the word "this"? For example, is there anyone who would claim that the following is correct?

"Who is Jane?"
"That is she."

Can we all agree that that question is more properly answered "That is her"? Why, then, does it become an issue when you are referring to yourself with "this"? The two cases seem identical to me.

If these cases are different, why are they? If they are the same, then would anyone argue that the rules of copulative verbs and nominative cases and such would indicate that, when pointing out another person, one should say "That is she"?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Has it been mentioned that spoken English is almost always different than written English?

There are terms and phrases that are used in colloquial speech, yet are never used in writing. Also, as others have stated, there are written phrases that are in common usage that are grammatically incorrect, yet are replaced by their incorrect, less obfuscated-sounding counterparts.

There are some things that I believe that should remain consistent in our language, yet, as language is an evolution, people need to recognize that things do change, and will continue to change, for as long as humans exist. Thus, this should not really be a point of contention.

That said, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with using slang and/or colloquial forms in place something that could possibly alienate you by making you appear as if you stepped out of the 1600s. I will not knock anyone who chooses to say "I am smarter than her" in place of "I am smarter than she." In fact, I'm going to encourage it, as long as you are conscientious of the correct form.

Lastly, if it makes things simpler for both the writer and the reader to understand, then one may opt to say, "She is smarter than I am," rather than saying, "She is smarter than I." I'm not advocating the dumbing down of the language, but if you have to find a medium between sounding silly and being grammatically correct, that is it.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Would one say "it is I" or "it is me"

I go with "it is I"

and therefore

"This is I"

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

My minor was in English 40 years ago and I've noticed since then that the language has changed somewhat since Microsoft's Clippy came into being. But it seems to me you would use she only in that phone situation. If someone asked the question, "who is the best player on the side?" you should answer, "Number 14.". Pronouns cause too many problems with ambiguity. Besides, saying, "it is her" would require pointing at someone and my Mom told me you were not supposed to point.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Just make things simple when someone asks, just say "Speaking!" There ya go, problem solved. ;)

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

By replying with 'speaking ' or ' this is he' or any of the other variants that have been suggested immediately puts ONE at a disadvantage. The caller knows it is the person they want to speak to. By asking who is calling gives you the chance to decide whether to take the call or not.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"This is she." - Technically correct. Formal, English standard usage

"This is her." - Technically correct. Informal, colloquial usage.

"Speaking." - Most correct. Best, unambiguous usage.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes you are right, but steel I belive that, "this is she" is a proper form.
The "this is her" is closer in meaning to "this is hers" or "this is her something" than to "this is she"
The same way as people commonly say "it's me" although gramatically correct should be, "It is I" Although my english teacher told mi that if I answer like that people wold think there is Shekspir on the other side of the door.

But ok, English is not my mother tonque so I shut up.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Why is this still a topic of discussion? I thought John and AO solved this problem already?! The horse is dead!

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hmmmmm! Well, yes. The distinctions are or were at their formation, indeed, arbitrary; nonetheless, to say they make "no difference AT All," isn't quite true. Language, after all, is simply a convention in which we all agree to say the same thing in more or less the same way to promote understanding and clarity of communication. If I were to call a pencil a Fred, you might think I was a bit strange, and you might be right; however, if I did it long enough and consistently enough, you'd know what I meant when I said I needed a Fred. That's as opposed to my pen, here and after known as my Ethel. But back to the initial question -- the "This is she" vs "This is her." The whole discussion, as I understood it, was one of what is grammatically correct/standard English, as is tested by such instruments as the SAT, ACT, GRE, and so forth, not that such tests are the foundations upon which the universe rests. There are rules for what is termed standard English. Less erudite forms of speech still get the job done, but totally correct, as defined by the grammar books, they are not. That this isn't needed in all cases is very true. "This is she" is now considered colloquial, and "I be Jimmy" is considered simply "substandard," though there are many folks who speak in such a fashion. And I admit it: I have no trouble understanding, "I be Jimmy." It's not "incorrect" to say, "This is her" on the phone. One can speak as one chooses. The rule of what pronoun follows what sort of verb has only to do with what one says if totally standard English is the currency in that exchange. I had thought that the initial subject of the question was precisely that, not whether or not we're allowed to use colloquial speech. It's back to Fred and Ethel. Why must a triangle be a figure three sides and three angles? The answer is the same as to why it's, "This is she." The answer is because, just that -- because. At some point the powers that be came down upon that distinction. It was not I, but others. I have no problem with colloquial speech. But in an academic discussion of what is grammatically correct, I stand not on my opinion but upon that of Warriner's, Strunk and White, and other such authorities.
p.s. I'm confused by the "hobknobbery" remark and how it fits into the discussion. "Hobnobbery" is to associate with others in a familiar manner, to "hang around" with others.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Marilyn Rowan:
"Why must a triangle be a figure three sides and three angles? The answer is the same as to why it’s, “This is she.” The answer is because, just that — because. At some point the powers that be came down upon that distinction."

There are no powers that be that decide what is proper English and what is not. English usage is not like math; there are no universal rules fixed for all time. The rules of English usage are made by the speakers. Sure, some people write books about English usage where they make pronouncements about what is right and wrong, but such pronouncements are simply opinions, and should always be considered in light of how the language is actually used.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

My point about the triangle had to do with the "term" triangle. It, too, could have been called a Fred. I realize that the rules of mathematics are fixed, but the language could change, though that's rather unlikely. I further realize that the rules and usage of language have varied over the course of time and will continue in that wise. My point about "the powers that be" for grammar does not relate to the distant future or "a galaxy far far away." My point is that at this point in time, what I wrote holds true. At this point in time, "dems da rules"! Just as the term for that figure we term a triangle could change, "correct" usage can and will change. However, right now that figure IS called a triangle, and "This is she" IS standard usage. Still confused on "hobknobbery."

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Depends on the text, and on the standardized tests, only "It is she" is correct, due to the reasons stated above. However, down the road I descry a gent coming with the wagon from the glue factory. Old Dobbin has done his job and is headed off to pastures more green. Dead horse. I throw down the whip. I never was other than kind to animals anyway, and in this case, it's well nigh useless. Any suggestions on "hobknobbery"?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

this was super fun to read as a clueless individual - and i thought it was going to be a simple google search. i LOVE that this started in 2006, here i am in 2012 and it looks like it will hopefully never end. however, this is where i stopped reading, appropriately made me chuckle:

"Reality Dr. (unregistered) September 10, 2007, 6:04pm
Reality Check #1:
This discussion has been going on for a YEAR! Better usage of time people? Simple solution: use something you know to be correct, do not risk sounding like an idiot (because either usage of she/her can have that result).

Reality Check #2:
Language is constantly evolving, from having a lot of vitality to near death (defend Latin all you want, 99% of the world does not really care). Therefore, this conversation will become irrelevant when the Chinese people take over the world and everybody will have to speak Cantonese or Mandarin.

Reality Check #3:
I already spent too much time on this inconsequential topic (compared to the big picture), so this will be my first and last post!

Much Love and Peach for All."

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

When answering it would be simple and correct to say:

"May I speak to Sarah Sue?"
"I am Sarah Sue."
One, therefore, would not have to worry about the correct of she or her.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Good to know. Thanks, John. I just checked several sources; some gave only one, and some gave both choices. When only one choice was listed, it was "beaten." And then too, there are always the differences between the American and British conventions, both of which have canons in their own contexts, though canon can change. As I said way way up there, language is a convention to aid communication and understanding. When it comes down to it, people can say whatever they choose and generally be understood. The question is: to what end? It would seem to me that anything which aids clearer communication is to the good, and conversely, anything which muddies the waters is, at best, problematic. At the risk of coming across as another version of 'Enry 'Iggins, better grammar is beneficial in that way, but clearly not to everyone in all cases. We're a mixed bag, we humans. For a long time, the pendulum swung toward more concise and correct speech. Now, possibly partially in the name of political correctness, the trend seems to be reversing. This is true with diction as well: irritate vs aggravate, uninterested vs disinterested, and farther vs further are good examples. I've given up on mad vs angry. I adamantly refuse to say I'm "mad," though God knows, it may be true. Bottom line: in some contexts, completely correct English is the coin of the realm. For those who find themselves in such a context, that arrow is still needed in the quiver.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes, but the rage that accompanies madness. It may be a fine point, but with mad now meaning only angry to most people, mad meaning insane is being lost. I'm fine with the branching out of words, but meaning lost is another matter. Another example is the word "gay," which I have discussed with my gay friends. It's a charming word and can be used in many ways, but the meaning "light-hearted," as in "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay," [charming book, that] has been lost. It's sad, to me mind you, to see one meaning subsumed by the other. The language seems the poorer for lost meanings. I've probably read one to many 18th century picaresque novels with antiquated vocabulary and grammar. Errands to run. Later, John

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I've always said "this is she" on the phone, because my mother taught me to say it this way. Now, so many say "this is her" that "this is she" sounds funny and wrong. Slang expressions and spellings are overwhelming the English language these days anyway. E-mail and the Internet are making changes faster than in the past. The whole point in having language is for communication. Are we going to become better communicators as the world gets smaller? Do the rules from the past still apply, or do the rules need to be adaptable?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Well, I traced "stark mad," as in "completely mad" to John Skelton 1489, and that's with the modifier. The reference defines this as "completely insane." "Raving mad" comes in later, and finally "stark raving mad" even later. After all, there's Lewis Carroll and the Mad Hatter from the saying "mad as a hatter"; that's British for you. My understanding is that in the old days, hatters used chemicals in the hands-on making of hats/creating felt, the fumes of which had mind altering properties. Then there was the Madhouse Act at some point in Britain for dealing with insane asylums. I'm not suggesting that dictionaries have abandoned that definition, but that it is failing in the common parlance today. Neither do I suggest we don't communicate as well or that English is not as expressive, but just that for the average person, language is perhaps more circumscribed. Come to think of it, it always was, in that case. But what do I know. I may well be stark raving mad. Seems more and more likely.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Well, for example 1, probably. For # 2, I could see the definition going either way. With the Biblical quote, it's a translation. There are ever theologians arguing about the correct translation of this or that. And then too, there are the seraphs with six wings, two of which, according to scripture, cover their "feet." Uh-huh! Translations are dicey.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes, and perhaps they were right, as the "feet" translators were not.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oooooooo, Douglas, love your use of the word "mad"! It seems that John and I have become the pedantic website version of reality TV. And the original question -- something about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, wasn't it? No? Broca's area? Binomial nomenclature? Suggestions for dealing with Eeyore's depressive personality? Damned if I know. Reading back over all of that, I realize that I am only one of the grammar, vocabulary, and literature obsessed out there. It's been the continuing daytime drama of John and Marilyn. I'm charmed we proved to have some entertainment value. As to where we go from here, who knows? Possibly nowhere, and that's dandy too. But you know, had I been one of those seraphs, I'd have used two of my wings to cover my . . . ahhh, . . . "feet" too. But then again, John Kenneth Galbraith said, "Modesty is a vastly over-rated virtue." Hmmmmmm? Clearly not with seraphs. "Civility?" Yes. "Erudite?" Maybe u er dite, but I ain't. "And the beat goes on." Oh, and I'm still trying to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" "hobknobbery."
signed,
stark, raving, and clearly mad, though not angry

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I find it fascinating that an incomplete subjective conjuncture of the conjoined pronouns lacks a predicative subjugated adverb when used in response to a phone caller asking a commoner question "may I speak to Joon Park" and Joon replies "I is she". We all know this girl must have been drunking.

However, if Joon were to answer "who's axing", then one would assume that the only Latin this receptionist learned was not "suma cum laude or "carpe idiom" but "idioticus giganticus".

C'mon now peeps, we all know the correct way to answer the phone don't we?

Snobs trying to hard to appear edjumicated - this is she
Riff raff trying to buck formalities - this is her

The common punter -"Speaking"
let's keep it reals!

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

And don't forget, if you and your spouse answer the door, and the caller says "are you Mr and Mrs Smith?" you must answer "This is we."

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I was taught that the "is" between the words is an equals sign, meaning both words have to be in the same tense. If "this" is present tense, then "she" would be present tense. Also the two words will interchange. This is she and She is this. I say, This is she, and wouldn' be caught dead turning it around to say Her is this.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Your point is well made, and I quite agree. To me, it is sad that those meanings are lost. I gave only one example. I fully realize that semantic change happens, and we can use the words we choose as we choose. However, for the common man, when words are used in a sense no longer in the common parlance, understanding fails. For me, the language is the poorer for the loss. As I mentioned previously, probably a surfeit of very old literature on my part, but I like those words, and it's harder and harder for me to use them and be understood. Lackaday, I most thole it. O.K. I'm not quite THAT archaic. I enjoy writing to you John. U er definitely dite, and it appears that we have entertainment value.
M.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Anyone interested in taking on forms of the verbs "lay" and "lie," two of the most frequently misused verbs by the "educated"?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

If you will be taking a standardized test, such as TEAS, HESI, or NLN, you better know how to use the rules. Not knowing them, no matter how we speak in everyday life, could mean you can't pursue the career training you choose. Forget about them the day after you pass the test, but know them during that 30 minute period. In real life, simply say, "This is (your name)." It's correct by anyone's standards.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@TEAS grammar tutor - so I'm all the happier that I teach EFL and that exams like IELTS, FCE, CAE, CPE and TOEIC reflect normal spoken English, and certainly wouldn't penalise you for saying, for example, "it's me". A context formal enough to warrant 'It is I' would be very unlikely to come up in any of these exams. Neither would students be penalised for using 'who' in object position, unless it followed a preposition. I suppose TEAS is more directed at academic English, but why nurses need to use 'I' after a linking or copular verb beats me.

As for 'This is she / her / (your name) ' - I think that we Brits usually just say 'speaking' or 'so-and-so speaking' when answering the phone. Apart from a certain Hyacinth Bucket, of course, who answers the phone, "The Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking."

The only time we're likely to say 'This is ....' would be when we're calling somebody else, when obviously we would say neither 'she' nor 'her', but our name.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Douglas said,

"Really Marilyn? That old canard? I'm loath to cock a snook at even so learned a maven as you, but "lay versus lie" is not so much a grammatical issue as a social one."

Well, Douglas, as I understand it, it's not a grammatical issue, but one of diction, the wrong word being used. "Grammar cops with a social agenda?" If that were entirely true, then this website would seem of no point whatsoever, though I suppose there is a social agenda. I am only a second generation American. All four of my grandparents, two maids, a slightly alcoholic mason, and a baker, were immigrants who spoke accented English with greater or lesser facility in grammar to the ends of their days. All four came from peasant families, and I'm proud of that and them. My father, who spoke very good but not perfect English, a very rare thing in my experience, told me that his teachers insisted that all the children speak grammatically, no matter what they heard at home. The parents, a the mixed bag of Germans, Italians, Poles, and so forth, all insisted on the same point. It was seen, and still is, one form of social betterment. Eliza Doolittle knew that she needed to speak more correctly to be a lady in a flower shop. My father, by the way, had one semester of college when his father died. He then quit and got a job to support his mother and a sister still at home, and later, another widowed sister and her five children. I was the first college graduate in my family on either side. My background is not privileged.

As I said before, in some contexts, formal English is the coin of the realm. We don't often hear our physicians say to their nurses, "I ain't got no pencil." Egregious errors are a signal of various things that are usually a stumbling block to a successful life, not that lay vs lie is egregious. An example in point is that once I was on the phone calling a company with a complaint and asked to speak to the manager. In such situations, anyone below that level can't make decisions. One is being vetted, and one's time is wasted explaining the same thing multiple times. The woman to whom I was speaking claimed that she was the manager. I knew she wasn't simply by the way she spoke and again insisted on speaking to the manager. She wasn't pleased, but in the end, I got the manager, who spoke far better than the original woman. I'd been correct. For better or worse, this is what happens.

And as for its being an "old canard," that duck is not really enchained and still flies in testing instruments, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, and certainly until death, in the probably not foreseeable future, us do part. "The simple rule is generally this: "lie" is for people, "lay" is for things. (Easy to remember: many people lie.)" Not entirely, since you can "lay the baby in the bed" or "lay your body down": "Now I lay me down to sleep." For that matter, once you have "laid" your books on the table, they are "lying" there. Porsche is correct in this matter. Lay [lay, laid, have laid, laying] means to put or place. Lie [lie, lay, have lain, lying] means to recline/rest horizontally. The problem lies [thing, not person, but it "lies"] with "lay" and "lain" as the past and past participle of "lie." They go virtually unused, except by the few. And the reason I put "educated" in quotation marks? The vast majority of the educated misuse these verbs, according to standards of strictly formal English as well, just like everyone else. And yes, I do know that forms of "lay" have been used for forms of "lie" for half of forever. But this is a forum on correct grammar and usage as dictated by the rules, such as they are, and for strictly formal English, it isn't correct. "The conflict between oral use and school instruction has resulted in the distinction becoming a social shibboleth – a marker of class and education." Did you or do you, in the raising of your children, insist that they speak correctly? Why? Do they say, "Dad, I ain't got no pencil"? Had they ever said precisely that, how would you have replied? The "lay" vs "lie" difference is one of degree rather than kind in the discussion of "ain't." Same church different pew. Danged picky pew, but even so, Douglas, even so.

"I know what you're thinking: educated people talk good." Not all of 'em, sweetie. Not nearly all of 'em, and for reasons I won't broach here. And for that matter, some self-educated folks speak beautifully. "Ergo people lie and things lay." Once again, not in all cases. Nope. Not nearly all. "No, language is created, nurtured and cultivated by poor slobs who wouldn't know an intransitive verb if it gave them a bus transfer, bless 'em." With that, I can only agree. "And yes, I know exactly how snobbish that sounds." Not "hobknobbish"? Oh! And cocked snooks are all the rage in some places. Cock away. I quite enjoy snooks, cocked or otherwise. In fact, they often make my day. "Lay [not lie] on, Macduff!" On that note, have a pleasant evening or morning, or whatever it is there. I'm in the Midwest, in a blob of humanity in the great fly-over zone.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

P.S. - EFL teaching also recognises that English has different registers. What is appropriate in 'normal spoken English' is not always appropriate in very formal English.

Unfortunately some people think that formal language is the only correct language, and that basing ordinary grammar on 'normal spoken usage' is somehow dumbing down. Isn't that rather a case of the tail (the 'rules') wagging the dog (the language?. Do you really think that saying 'It is I' makes someone more intelligent (rather than simply sounding like a bit of a prat)?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Probably some usage writers feel that "ain't" isn't worth bothering about, and they may, indeed, be right. I guess I'm back to the old "isn't the discussion of such what the site is about anyway?" And not ALL of any group agrees about anything, at least not usually. Total consensus? Maybe when we've gone to sing with the choir invisible. However, on this point, most usage writers agree, including Strunk and White, to list only one. The bottom line is that if using certain forms of speech, and here I'm not discussing any particular example, can cause one a problem professionally or personally, it's best to avoid it at least in formal situations and stick to what's generally accepted as standard, whatever that is. It's a question of covering one's metaphorical ass, or "feet" for that matter.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

SOLUTION:
Can I speak to Sarah?
Yes.
(Wait for caller to start speaking to Sarah.)

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This reply to the telephone always intrigues me, as the obvious course of the chat should be, but never is:

#caller - "Good morning, is this Jane Smith?"

# Jane Smith - "No way! I am. You're someone else."

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@joy - as some of our sillier rules (for example not using split infinitives or ending a sentence with a preposition) have resulted from grammarians trying to align English with Latin, I would say no.

But I think what Brus is trying to do is show an analogy rather than prove a point, and I think it's always interesting to compare languages. At Wikipedia, they say:

"in answering to the question "Who wrote this page?" The natural answer for most English speakers in this context would be "me" (or "It's me"), parallel to moi (or C'est moi) in French."

But they go on to point out a big difference. While 'pronoms disjoints' (or stressed pronouns) are an accepted form in the most formal of French grammar (eg: L'état, cést moi), 'disjunctive pronouns' (the standard term) do not have the same status in traditional English grammar. Many traditional grammarians don't accept this form as correct, and you won't find the term 'disjunctive pronoun' used much in English grammars at all, whether in traditional prescriptive or modern descriptive grammars. Disjunctive is usually used in connection with conjunctions, as is copulative, incidentally. For example all references to 'disjunctive pronoun' in 19th century books at Google Books is for French.

So I think that when they flock to the bookshops, Brus's friends might be rather disappointed.

As an English teacher, I'd rather just go with this type of explanation (from Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan):

'In informal English, we use object forms not only as the objects of verbs and prepositions, but also in most other cases where the words do not come before verbs as their subjects. Object forms are common, for example, in one-word answers and after be:"Who said that?" - "(It was) him"; "Who's that?" -"(It's) me". In a more formal style, we often prefer to use subject form + verb where possible: "Who said that?" - "He did" (but not "he")'.

There are also problems with calling this use the 'disjunctive pronoun'. Firstly, because we don't have a separate form, as in French, secondly because it is not universally accepted, and thirdly because it is used in French in ways we can't use it in English, for example -

Lui seul a travaillé hier.
He alone worked yesterday.

Eux aussi veulent venir.
They want to come too.

I know we have 'Me and Johnny went to the pub last night' - but that's very controversial, and is only used in joint subjects with 'and'.

It's interesting that another use of pronoms disjoints is in comparisons, another controversial area in English:

Il travaille plus que moi. - which could be translated three ways in English:

He works more than I - very formal and old-fashioned but keeps the purists happy:
He works more than I do - neutral and more 'polite'
He works more than me. - informal

Here is one grammar book that does use the term 'disjunctive pronoun', but it points out that 'Unlike in French, where such constructions are considered standard, English pronouns used in this way have caused dispute':

http://books.google.pl/books?id=R6IiDRF5utAC&am...

So on balance I prefer to explain these things within the (real) rules of English. We already have all the terminology we need, although with my students I will obviously compare structures with their language when it makes things easier.

I haven't really answered as to why not, but I think that I've shown that similar constructions are often used in very different ways in different languages. The grammar of each language is unique.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Taking some examples from many years ago of this stuff, may I suggest a lesson from French, where the word for "I" which is "Je" when it is the subject, and "me" when it is the object, is "moi" when it is used after prepositions (with me = avec moi", after me = apres moi - can't do accents on keyboard) and disjunctively with the complement of 'be', as we say "It's me" = "C'est moi". The corresponding English word for "moi" is "me", and that is what all the confusion has been about, as it is the same as the accusative word for "me" used for the object of the verb (He sees me = Il me voit). So "him" "her", "them" and "me" and "us" can be i) obect or ii) disjunctive. In case of doubt, use one of these, and claim it is disjunctive; you'll probably get away with it.

So "Me and my friend are going out." is ungrammatical, although it establishes the speaker's demotic credentials, because 'me' is the subject, so should be 'I' so correctly "My friend and I ..." - subject of "are going ...".

"Who wants to go? Not me!" Fair enough - just say it's disjunctive, for emphasis, "pas moi!"

"She is taller than me." Fair enough. Disjunctive, "moi" in French. Used in comparative phrases as the complement with 'than'. Also "taller than I" is correct if explained with reference to ellipsis: "taller than I (am)." But that is a bit far-fetched.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

John has pegged the issue pretty well, and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage agrees. Their conclusion, which they quote from another source, is this:

"Many people use "lay" for "lie," but certain others will judge you uncultured if you do. Decide for yourself what is best for you."

The intransitive use of "lay" was on the decline at the same time that grammarians were ascendant. Since only the educated studied grammar, lay v. lie became a marker beyond importance.

This is not to say that conventional standards of usage are irrelevant. Here I agree with Marilyn. Understanding standard usage and its rules is vital. But grammatical rules are not commandments. Ordinary speech, or writing, should usually follow precept. Once understood, rules may be tested, even flouted, if to the advantage of meaning.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Brus - demotic credentials? Is that something like street cred?

Seriously though, I'm glad you accept "Who wants to go? Not me!" and "She is taller than me."

I like your point about a disjunctive pronoun, but I'm not sure you can really say "me" is the equivalent of "moi", as we don't have a disjunctive pronoun in English. But "It's me" certainly sounds more natural in English.

Back to demotic credentials. Isn't it more to do with register than social status. To my friends at work, I might well say "Me and Dave are going to the pub", but to someone I want to impress or be more formal with, I'd say "David and I are going to the pub". But you might have a bit of a point in that in Britain, at least, language is "democratising". The use of the word "Mate" as a greeting, for example, which used to be exclusively working class, is pretty classless nowadays. What I do find fascinating is that it's almost always "Me and Dave" or "David and I", but hardly ever "Dave and me" or "I and David".

As I've probably said before, pronouns are the last area of English to have inflections, so it's hardly surprising if their use is still in a bit of a flux. We only have to look at "who/whom".

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"This" is the subject. "She" is what we use as the subject. "Her" is what we would use as a direct object. Since this is placed where the direct object would be, the proper address would be "This is her," since "her" is the direct object and not the subject.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

After reading this tirade, I am convinced that in the future I will answer the question, "May I speak with Jana?", with this response: "Speaking."

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Languages were not "set up". Languages have evolved with zero intervention for a very long time. Grammar was "set up", but English was never "set up".

There is no such thing as right or wrong in language. Language is a fluid tool that has changed millions of times over the full length of human existence. You can be grammatically incorrect, because that is a constructed set of rules, but you can never be linguistically incorrect.

Practically speaking, very few languages have ever codified grammatical rules the way that modern languages have. It is pride that drives people to take their language so seriously they believe every native speaker must write and speak the way it is stated in some rulebook. There wouldn't be the richness and variety of languages if Sumerian did what English has done.

Perhaps we should just gather up all the Scots and Cockneys and teach them how to speak *real* English, you know, since we're the ones who actually use it correctly.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

'this is she' and 'this is her' are both correct.

Not only does 'this is her' sound better to my ears or is in common usage, I compare it to other sentences. Read all along above for many examples.

'This is she' sounds like something from Shakespeare or some other older-style English. Like, 'He who removes the sword from the stone is..' or 'This is he who removed...'. 'This is she' needs something else, really. But, grammatically, 'this is she' is still correct. As a general note, you use 'she' for the subject, and not 'her' as the sole subject, but 'her' as the object. But normally, like 'Give it to she' is not correct, unless it's 'give it to she who possesses the power of..'. Another way of saying that is 'give it her, who possesses the power of..'.

I never though of speaking as this is her speaking, as in this is her speech or her speaking (the way she speaks), but rather as 'this is her, speaking'. In that case, it would be the same thing as 'this is she, speaking', or 'this is she who speaks of..'.

But 'speaking', was always a short form for 'yes, speaking' for me. Like, may I speak to Db? 'Yes, speaking' (as in, yes, you may, and btw, I'M speaking to you, so don't act as if I'm not even there). In this way, I always think of it like That's me, speaking. Or, yes, I'm speaking. When someone talks to you in the third person, you don't confirm that you're not him by saying this is her or she. What's wrong with you! Say, no! Hey, looky here, that's me, I'm speaking, please. That' just my opinion, anyway.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

this subject annoys me. I was taught in 2nd grade that "this is she" is correct and since second grade it is what I have used. People around me use "this is she" I have heard people say "this is her" but mostly at gas stations. Just because some people think they can alter a language with poor usage doesn't mean it SHOULD be altered. I am not perfect but if I was speaking incorrectly and sounded like an idiot I would hope someone would tell me. I would also remind you that other countries speak English, and would be offended at your arrogance to suggest that simply out of American laziness we should change a grammatical rule.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Peter Reynolds,

Perhaps, it is endemic to females, but your knowledge of formal grammar is not irrelevant because you made a judgment: "I thought the customer was being ironic because she was being asked if she was, say, Janet". You thought she was being ironic because you lacked the knowledge that this is what a prescriptivist would consider the 'most correct form' to use. However, I can't speak for the female caller, so she might not be aware of grammar at all, and if that is the case, then you are somewhat right. Also 'this is she', unless the speech was inflected, is not a question; it's a simple statement.

Read more carefully: " ‘She’ is the nominative form of the word, so it cannot be used to describe somebody who is the object of a sentence (in this example, ‘this’ would be the subject)." The questioner asked whether 'This is she" is more grammatically correct than 'this is her' because they believed 'is' to be taking an object when in fact it takes subjective complement.

I apologize for offending you. I probably shouldn't have attacked you like that, but this sight has been getting extra traffic, and someone of the people who have commented recently have been less than desirable.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper - Well, I for one found Peter Reynold's 'anecdote', which was just a simple observation, quite interesting, especially as it was more or less repeating something I'd said - that this expression wasn't used by Brits when answering the phone.

Observations like this can add something, even if they are not strictly about the grammar point the questioner was asking about; it was something that was puzzling me, too - who would say 'this is she' when answering the phone. And in a any case, it's all English, after all - grist to the mill for PITE readers.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper

Don't worry about it. I'm not worrying (and I have before on the odd occasions when I've genuinely fallen out with folk on other forums). On this occasion I felt it was more of a misunderstanding (that we were at cross purposes) than anything else. And of course we British do tend to feel our version of English is superior, so that may in fact have come across. ;-)

And certainly don't feel you have to refrain from posting because of me. This was the first time I had posted here (as far as I recall) and I did so after a Google search revealed this discussion. So I butted in without knowing anything about the mood of the forum. I may well have been a pain in the ..........

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

To jlr:

jlr asks: "Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we replace the entire “she could entertain” part with “her” as in her way of entertaining or her ability to entertain. Then you cannot compare the two sentences."

Consider yourself corrected. No, we do not replace the entire phrase 'She could entertain' part with 'Her'. If someone asked you, 'Who could entertain?', would you reply, 'Her could!' No, you would say, 'She could!' Would you say 'Her could entertain'? I don't think so.

To Oleg:
Oleg writes: In Russia we use IT IS ME more often than IT IS I

Hmmmm. In Russia, would you not more often use "??? - ?"? (ROTF,LMHO)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper - I'll certainly echo Brus's last paragraph and Peter's last comment. We all have our sillier moments (especially me when I get goaded into defending the indefensible), and your comments are usually very moderate and constructive.

What's more PITE has been rather barren lately, with days on end without comments for me to react to. We need everyone, old hands like yourself and newbies like Peter, who I notice is busy posting on other threads as well, so you don't seem to have put him off. :) :)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Or maybe we are just concerned about our knowledge and the possibility that some people are taught wrong about the english grammar which is used all the time and the fact that english grammar exams exist Ed22SAS you can't be sure about other people's intentions when they're not directly said and your post doesn't help anyone and therefore useless. I'm not sure why you're here when you don't intend to learn from these arguments that you read.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

In school I remember hearing: e.g. Yes, this is "she" and not her but can you also say Yes, this is me??? is this informal?? I left USA many moons ago....HELP!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Amen brethren.
In an unguarded unthinking non-PC moment in the supermarket I automatically waved back to a small child instead of turning away PC-wise ... it's just not 1960 anymore. I have also noticed that "bitch" and "slut" have become highly offensive now whilst OMG is just commonplace. And nobody says "crikey" anymore.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

So if two people, say A and B visit someone, say C, and ring the doorbell, and C asks, "Is it A and B?", then what do A and B reply with - It is us, or it is we?

Going by the correct Grammatical usage as put forth by some people here in the case of ' this is she', the answer should be 'it is we'. However, it does not sound right. Opinions?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It is us, P.

'Us' is the disjunctive form of the first person plural personal pronoun (I, me singular, we, us plural) for use as the complement (after verb to be, so: I am me) and prepositions (with me, with us, etc).
There is a very ugly trend today to use the reflexive form 'myself' in place of the straightforward "I, me". So (heard on phone): "Myself and Sarah 'll see you at the pub" leading I suppose to - "Myself am at the pub now, Sarah is late".
Just stick to disjunctive and you won't go wrong.

In Scotland you are greeted with "Oh! It's yourself! You'll have had your tea." So regional variations, rich in colour and tone, entertain us too. Your A and B people had better have had their tea too, before visiting C, if he is a Scot, and who will say in a suspicious tone "It's yourselves, then!" and they must say "Aye, it's ourselves, aye, but we could do with a wee dram".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@P - I think you just answered your own question. But as some people have suggested that the phone example doesn't happen that often, I hope you don't mind if I rephrase your question. If somebody accused your Standard-English-speaking pair A and B of doing something, would they be more likely to say, in informal spoken language, 'It wasn't us' or 'It wasn't we'? I'd go for 'us', myself.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Brus,

I'm not sure it is political correctness. It's closer to me acting like an a**hat.

@Peter Reynolds,

Still, a forum shouldn't be rabid.

@Warsaw Will,

You live in Poland right? I have been hearing about the Ukrainian revolt that's been happening. I'm not saying it's likely that it'll spill over but I am concerned about the proximity between Poland and Ukraine.

@jayles,

I think it's more of an increase in cynicism about people and a greater awareness of dangerous people in general.

Now, let's put this all behind us.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Brus - Perhaps 'This is me (in the photo)' or 'This is us'. But 'I am me'? Sounds like something from 'I am the Walrus'. :)

Your disjunctive pronoun theory is interesting, although I've never seen this term used in any standard English grammar book. Those few sources that I've found which talk about disjunctive pronouns in English only use it for expressions like 'It's me', or solitary 'Me', which are certainly not accepted in those prescriptive grammars that insist on 'It is I'.

But even if we accept the idea of disjunctive pronouns for things like 'It's me', surely 'with me' and 'with us' are different. Everyone, prescriptivist and descriptivist alike, agrees that prepositions should always be followed by an objective form - 'Between you and me' - we don't need any special rule to explain that. It might be the case in French - 'Viens avec moi' - but English isn't French, and we don't have separate pronouns forms like 'moi' and 'lui'. We only have subjective, objective and possessive forms for pronouns.

Another thing worth noting is that when it is used, the subjective form is usually used without contractions - 'It is I', whereas the objective form is normally used with contractions, 'It's me', suggesting that the difference between the two is one of register - both are correct, but the former is rather formal. I might not use 'It is I', but I can't say it's incorrect. In French, on the other hand, 'C'est Je' is definitely not correct; you have no choice. This why 'I hae me doots' about extending this this idea of disjunctive pronouns to English.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Could anyone provide me with any current references on this matter?
thank you in advance

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I must add that the disjunctive pronoun 'me .. us' is used as the complement of the verb 'be' and the Scottish examples I gave above demonstrate some examples of 'myself .. yourselves' employed in place of 'me .. you'. This does not mean that you can use it as the subject of 'be': you cannot say "Myself 'll be waiting for ye" or "Yourselves will be wantin' in, then?" for example.

My mother did hear some Glaswegian girls in the Second World War making this suggestion to some Polish soldiers:

"If youse yins'll teach us yins Polish us yins'll teach youse yins English".

So here is an example of "us" used as the subject. But despite what they said it isn't really standard English, is it now?

Glad to make a Polish connection there, Warsaw Will.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Correction: The verb "to be" does not take an object. "This is she" is the correction form.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

WW: 'I am me' sounds wrong because the subject and complement are the same person, so the reflexive form "I am myself", (you are yourself ... he is himself ...) are required.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Brus - My problem (one of them at least) is that neither 'I am me' nor 'I am myself' are natural English - nobody would ever say these, so I don't know why you'd want to use them to explain a grammatical point. 'This is me lying on the beach' or 'I'm really not feeling myself today' would give perfectly natural examples of 'me' and 'myself' as subject complements.

I'm afraid using artificial examples is one of my bugbears. There's one grammar website which, while explaining the passive, gives two examples - 'The dogs are loved by Suzanne' and 'The dogs are being loved by Suzanne', neither of which a native speaker would ever say. I write lots of grammar exercises myself, and make every effort to use natural examples. Otherwise it just confuses people.

Someone, like yourself, with a good knowledge of romance languages might find the term 'disjunctive pronoun' useful, but it doesn't seem to be a standard concept in English (except in explanations to French speakers, fro example). The entry for pronouns at Oxford Dictionaries online makes no mention of it, Collins has it but refers to French, and a linguistics book devoted to these very uses of pronouns has no reference to disjunctive pronouns at all. Those who use this term are transferring an idea from French and Italian, etc, which works for some things, but not others. And while the use of the disjunctive pronoun is mandatory in French, in English its use is frowned on by the traditionalists.

http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/pronouns
http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/eng...
http://books.google.pl/books?id=gjRV0gU1W3oC&am...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper Parts of western Ukraine were at one time part of Poland =- Lviv (or Lvow) for example was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. Other bits were part of the (Austro) Hungarian Empire until the Treaty of Trianon around 1921.
Linguistically, "Ukrainian" used to slide off toward Polish/Slovak in the west, village by village. There was a survey of language use in Eastern Europe carrried out around 1920, which was supposedly used to determine the current borders, creating Romania, Czechoslovakia and so on.
Out in the Ukrainian countryside things stil tend to look like they did in 1950.....

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

In Russia we use IT IS ME more often than IT IS I.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Recently I met a Ukrainian family. The wife is of Polish Jewish extraction, as were a whole couple of villages where everybody had the same two Polish Jewish surnames. This family live in Odessa and speak Russian, as I gather is true of a large part of the population of Odessa.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper - I don't think it's likely to spill over into Poland unless things get very nasty. The Polish people were very strong supporters of the Orange revolution, however, and have a strong affinity with the people of Western Ukraine. Although it wasn't always like that; when Lviv / Lwów was part of Poland there was a lot of very nasty fighting between Poles and Ukrainian nationalists. Most of the Poles from Lwów went to Kraków after the war, I think.

@jayles - there were large communities of Poles in the west, both in villages and in Lwów, and presumably in the large aristocratic estates as well. There was a similar situation in Lithuania, with a large Polish population of Vilnius / Wilno, which was Polish territory until the war. But it was a bit like Hungary before Trianon. At one time Poland stretched to the Black Sea, but of course many of the people who lived on Polish territory weren't actually Poles, but Ukrainians, Lithuaninas, Tartars etc (not to mention the Jews and Germans who lived in current Polish territory. Polish borders are today more or less back to where they started, reflecting the early Poland of 1200 or so.

Do you have a link to that map

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

So, if somebody asks me on the phone: "Can I speak to...?" which one is the proper answer: "This is she" or maybe "This is her"?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The map is on Wikipedia under "treaty of trianon"

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/Ethnographic_map_of_hungary_1910_by_teleki_carte_rouge.jpg

Note the area covered is "Greater Hungary" and includes parts of modern Slovakia as north as the Tatra mts, most of Romania, hunks of Croatia, Serbia, and a good slither of SW Ukraine. The red areas indicate Hungarian speaking places, and so on. Widely touted by Hungarian Nationalists - think the current PM, as well as the Rightists (Jobbik) - and still taught in Hungarian schools so the gripe lives on.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I agree Jana.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

In GB we supposedly speak the Queen's english ; HM would say ' my husband and I ' NOT me and my hubby. Would her reply to the question be 'this is I' ?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Answer "This is he (or she)" when you identify yourself on the telephone: Caller 1: "Is Lucy Peters there?" Caller 2: "This is she." ("She is this," not "Her is this.")

reference from: http://www.ehow.com/how_117260_fix-improper-pro...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Wow, I wonder if the original poster ever thought their question would trigger a five year debate of the topic."

You've got that right!

My suggestion to all? "This is her" is fine.

Now, get over it.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I just like "This is she," more. ;)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

So say we all!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Woops!

"This is he"

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

that should be "What about languages without prescriptive manuals" of course...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I never say, "Yes, this is him."

I usually say, "Yes, this is he."

I believe that sounds wrong to many ears and so I commonly use the alternative, "Yes, this is Dan"

Cannot this put an end to the entire controversy?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

THIS IS SHE is the correct terminology. To those who seek to find the right term, it would be "This is she." How funny one person actually thought "speaking" was a noun when used in the sentence "This is her speaking." LOL! -- it is a verb, dork! Speaking is a verb in this sentence. Another example would be this: This is her ball. You can say that, but not -- This is she ball. In this sentence "ball" is a noun so it is appropriate to say "her" however speaking (which is the topic of this forum - to answer a phone call, what the appropriate answer would be?) is a verb therefore This is she speaking is the correct sentence. don't get confused nor be fooled with poorly formed language or as you call it "slang" words. It is THIS IS SHE!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Maybe when I meet someone (or read a book by someone) who can actually assert such authority as to choose which is correct in this context I'll be able to agree with anyone. All I see here is "sentence a is incorrect because ____ is a ___ verb" or some other such hobknobbery. WHY is it incorrect to say "this is her" on the phone just because it's incorrect to say it in some other context? How can we be so sure that just for this one time "her" functions as some unnamed chimera pronoun that can be an object and a subject and all kinds of fancy things all at the same time? The distinctions you make are completely arbitrary and to be pragmatic, make no difference at all. There is a marked distinction between "I be Jimmy" and "this is him"

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes, "this is she" is standard, and "this is her" is also standard. Even in grammar books you will find the opinion that "this is her" is correct.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am a native Polish speaker. In my native language it wouldn't make much sense to answer the phone by saying either "this is she' or "this is her". Also, I don't believe this phrase was meant to be a short version of "This is she speaking" (or "This is her speaking") as press.uchicago.edu is suggesting in the original post since the correct expression conveying the implied meaning is simply "She is speaking" (and not "Her is speaking" btw). I think that "She is speaking" or simply saying "This is 'insert your name' " is the most grammatically correct way to reply to the caller when answering your phone. However, the expression in question is a very common way to answer the phone in modern English. I use it myself and believe the "This is she" version to be correct. I'll attempt to explain why below. What is present in my native language, was originally present in Old English and has been lost over time in the modern English is the presence of grammatical case. Modern English seems to utilize only 3 forms of grammatical case while Old English and many other modern languages use more than 3 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_case.
When a person answers the phone, whether they (not them) are trying to say that they are speaking or they (again - not them) are trying to equate themselves to the person the caller is asking for they are communicating in the nominative (subjective) case and hence "This is she" is the accurate version. If we were to debate phrases in other than nominative case the answer would probably require some more analysis since for example the modern English case of objective ("her") could correspond to either the accusative, dative or ablative case however there is no doubt that we are debating a nominative/subjective case.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Beverly says: <I>

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't we replace the entire "she could entertain" part with "her" as in her way of entertaining or her ability to entertain.Then you cannot compare the two sentences.

When I replace she with her it is mainly to shorten the sentence. To me, at least, "No one could entertain like she" sound incomplete without " could entertain"

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Correction:

Beverly said:
__ I find that the easiest way to know which is grammatically correct is to add a word or phrase, and subtract a word or phrase.
‘No one could entertain like her could entertain.’
‘No one could entertain like she could entertain.’__

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we replace the entire “she could entertain” part with “her” as in her way of entertaining or her ability to entertain.Then you cannot compare the two sentences.

When I replace she with her it is mainly to shorten the sentence. To me, at least, “No one could entertain like she” sounds incomplete without ”could entertain”

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Is the expression "cannot be beat" correct?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

As a colloquial expression, "cannot be beat" is used. However, "beat" is an irregular verb: present tense -- beat, simple past tense -- beat, past participle[with helping verbs]-- beaten. Therefore, grammatically it should be, "cannot be beaten." But hell's bells, fewer and fewer people seem to care going for the lowest common denominator.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

One is 'Blink' by Gladwell. ,

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

As a colloquial expression, "cannot be beat" is used. However, "beat" is an irregular verb: present tense -- beat, simple past tense -- beat, past participle[with helping verbs]-- beaten. Therefore, grammatically it should be, "cannot be beaten." But hell's bells, fewer and fewer people seem to care, going for the lowest common denominator.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Beat" has two forms for the past participle: "beat" and "beaten". Both are standard. "Beat" is always used in the expression "cannot be beat"; "beaten" does not seem to be used in this phrase. (According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage.)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

i learned a lot by reading your comments.

i guess people just need to check how pronouns are used. ^^ thank you so much! ^^

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I have been studying Spanish off and on for years but never quite got the hang of it untill I finally figured out how to properly use direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns. I wonder if this is the key to learning other languages.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"irritate vs aggravate, uninterested vs disinterested, and farther vs further"

These examples are all problematic. The complaints about these words are at best oversimplifications and at worst inaccurate. For instance, Merriam-Webster's usage note on uninterested/disinterested shows that the usage is much more complicated than the complainers want to believe. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disin...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes. I am aware of that.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Then I'm not sure what your point is. As for "mad"... there is nothing to give up. "Mad" has meant "angry" for 400 years.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Yes, but the rage that accompanies madness."

The entry in the OED is "Angry, irate, cross. Also, in weakened sense: annoyed, exasperated". Citations are provided from 1400. I don't see a connection with insanity.

"It may be a fine point, but with mad now meaning only angry to most people, mad meaning insane is being lost"

There is no evidence of this. All dictionaries I checked list one of the meanings of "mad" as "insane".

The process you describe with "gay" has happened to every single word in English. Words are always losing meanings and gaining new ones. But I really don't think this means English has lost any expressiveness overall. If we really were losing meanings, then that would mean we can't communicate today as well as we could in some earlier golden age, and there's no evidence of this.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Well here are some citations to demonstrate how old the "angry, irate, cross" meaning of "mad" is:

c1425 (?a1400) Arthur 234 Whan þis lettre was open & rad, þe Bretons & all men were mad And wolde þe messager scle

a1604 M. HANMER Chron. 125 in J. Ware Hist. Ireland (1633), Roderic was mad, and in his rage, caused his pledges head..to be cut off.

1611 Bible (A.V.) Acts xxvi. 11 And being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them euen vnto strange cities.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes the Biblical quote is a translation, but that's not really relevant. The point is that the translators apparently chose the word "mad" to mean "angry".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This has been mad fun. John and Marilyn have engaged in the kind of meandering yet purposeful debate that makes this site worth reading, even if – or perhaps because – they have strayed so far from the original question that I can scarcely recall it. And all of this with civility and erudition. Kudos. And carry on.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

    I am perfectly willing to believe that “many native speakers are guilty of poorly formed thought every time they speak,” given the boneheadedness I witness every day all around me.  But when I said that, I was more addressing the question of why we think of these things—in general—rather than the specific case of “This is me“ <b><i>v.</i></b> “This is I.”  I would agree that that would be ridiculous—<i>if</i> that were the only criterion contemplated.  It <i>is</i> valid to at least contemplate grammar, though.

    There is no place where the proper answer to “Who is this?” is “It is me.”  The question requires a nominativce answer; “Me” is not nominative.  This just doesn’t happen to be a dialectual distinction.

    I guess I would say that the topic is broad enough to include both social and language issues. Each case would be distinctive, some more socially oriented, some more associated with grammar, dialect, etc.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

you are wrong, in the case of answering the phone, "this is she" is correct.

and when answering the door and telling someone who it is you would say "It is they."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Of course there are situations where the proper answer to "who is this?" is "it is me." Both "it is I" and "it is me" are in reputable use. "It is me" is found in writing from the 1600s. "It is I" tends be used in more formal situations, and "it is me" in more informal writing and speechlike prose. (MWDEU pages 566-568) It seems to be a difference of register, not dialect. Yes, "me" is not nominative, but accusative pronouns can follow "be".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Come to think of it, what goes on here is "hobknobbery" [sic] of a sort, though I'm fairly certain that wasn't the original intent of the remark.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

GRAMMAR MOTHER IS RIGHT!!!

update your sight for God's sake!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

    It’s not that I don’t believe—for I do.  But the reality that there are situations where “It is me” is readily accepted does nothing to establish that it is proper.    There are vast numbers who readily accept “I seen it,” or “I been there,” but this in no wise establishes either as a proper sentence under any circumstances.    It doesn’t surprise me that anyone can cite examples of its use.  But the question is whether it is proper, not whether there are this quantity or that of individuals who either do not know the difference, or who, knowing the difference, choose to use an improper sentence to use in a given circumstance.  I myself, knowing better, use improper grammar deliberately.  (For instance, I usually use “This is me” to keep from derailing the conversation at hand.)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Thing is, you would not reply for someone else by saying "HER is not in, is there a message?", you would say "SHE is not in." So.... the correct response would be "THIS IS SHE.."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

David, should it be "they are we"?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I <i>have</i> provided evidence, evidence with which you even agree.   “I” is the nominative, “me” is not.   “It is I” is the proper response to situations requiring a nominative response, or when making a nominative declaration (eg, “Don’t be afraid: it is I”).   “It is me” is not nominative.
    Improper pronoun usage can be found all over the place (“Me and him went to the store,” “Us neighbors had a barbeque,” etc.), and people get the idea.   If those cases are used enough, dictionaries will start to cite them as common usage, so that people reading the dictionary will have explained to them what it is that they are looking up.   But that will not change the accurate statement that those pornouns are incorrect, just as using “me” as a noninative pronoun is.   My dictionary handles this case in the following fashion. “also used as a predicate complement with a linking verb, although the usage is objected to by some.”
    This does not, of course, contradict the fact that “me” is frequently used as if it were nominative.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This is for those of you who argue for the common usage concept. Every action has a thought behind it. The fact is, many think and say, "The phrase 'me and her are going...' sounds atrocious!" The very fact that it is a common thought and saying, makes it atrocious. That is if you are for the commonality argument.

You cannot argue commonality while omitting common opinions.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Two thoughts were brought to mind by this discussion:

1. There seem to be two schools of thought about grammar in general. One school puts the rules first and usage second; the other considers usage paramount and feels rules should always submit to common usage, which may be the simplest way of conveying a simple idea to another.

The people in the first group often consider those in the second group uneducated boors, and the second group frequently considers the first group to be out of touch snobs.

While I proudly consider myself part of the first group, I don't consider myself a snob; I simply love the beauty, subtlety, music and magic of language, and marvel in its form. I revel in finding the perfect word or case or combination to convey a particular shade of meaning. If someone considers language nothing more than a blunt tool for expressing basic thoughts, that is their prerogative, and I respect that. I happen to share their belief that getting your thought across is the most important thing, so I will subtly filter my speech, depending on whom I'm speaking with, and will gladly break grammatical rules if it helps to express a thought. That is one of the beauties of language; it can be as flexible as the speaker.

Having said that, I confess I do rue the erosion of simple, basic rules of grammar, which often does have the effect of watering down the subtlety of communication. For example, the case of Past Perfect seems to be rapidly becoming archaic. Many English speakers, particularly from the South, use the Past Tense (Preterite) conjugation when using "had" before the verb (Past Perfect tense). I know many educated speakers, particularly from the South, who will blithely say "I had WENT to the store". When asked about this, the most common reply is "But I had GONE to the store just SOUNDS wrong". This brings me to my second point.

2. I am a musician, and language, like music, was played (spoken) before the rules were codified, not the other way around. Unlike music though, language is not based on the immutable laws of physics (sound vibrations). The laws of music theory have no exceptions, any more than the Sun sets in the east sometimes. Language, however, is simply a product of our human minds, and so is subjective and constantly changing. The English we speak today is quite different from the English spoken 200 years ago, in the post-revolutionary US, and vastly different from that spoken 500 years ago, around Shakespeare's time. This change occurred, not in the grammar books, but on the street. This is a hard fact for many grammarians to accept, witness the Académie Française, which attempts to keep the French language "pure". This is a joke; you cannot "regulate" language. It has a life of its own, and will morph and evolve regardless of what any institution tries to impose upon it.

By definition, the way that a language evolves is by common usage, which will break whichever "rules" it wants, and then some future grammarian will come along and codify the new rules. You know a rule is archaic when a majority of native speakers, upon hearing an example of the old rule declare: "It just SOUNDS wrong".

This is simply a fact of grammatical life; a kind of "mob rule", if you will. It's up to each of us to find our own comfortable position on the continuum between the snobs and the mobs!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Ed22SAS Or she?! x

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

When someone asks "May I speak with Sam?", you may reply:

"Yes, this is Sam."

Alternatively, if we are to replace Sarah with a pronoun, then you may say:

"Yes, this is him."

Similarly, when the caller is referring to a third person (say, in a conference) by the question "Is that Sam?", then a response would likely be:

"Yes, it's him."

In parallel, the feminine follows the same pattern:

May I speak with Sarah?
Yes, this is her.

"Her" sounds more appropriate than "she" given these settings.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I looked up "gay" in the OED. Here is a selection of meanings that the word has had at one time or another:
Noble; beautiful; excellent, fine.
Bright or lively-looking, esp. in colour; brilliant, showy.
Of persons, their attributes, actions, etc.: light-hearted, carefree; manifesting, characterized by, or disposed to joy and mirth; exuberantly cheerful, merry; sportive. Also in extended use.
Of a horse: lively, prancing.
the gay science n. the art of poetry
Wanton, lewd, lascivious.
Of words or speech: brilliant, attractive, charming.
U.S. Amongst the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) or other (esp. nonconformist) religious groups: denoting a person who has ceased adhering to the plain and simple life or beliefs of the community; worldly. Esp. in gay Quaker, to go gay.
Brit. regional. In good health; well, convalescent.
U.S. slang. Forward, impertinent, too free in conduct, over-familiar; reckless; usually in to get gay.
A noble or beautiful lady.
A childish amusement; a trifle, a whim.
gay cat n. U.S. slang a young or inexperienced tramp, esp. one who acts as a scout; a hobo who accepts occasional work.

We could say that it's sad that "gay" has lost the meaning of "light-hearted", but why isn't it sad that it has lost all these other meanings as well?

This word has gone through normal processes of semantic change, something that happens to all words. It's not sad, because we can still convey whatever meanings we want to convey, even if we don't use the same words that our ancestors used.

Here's a selection of meanings that the word "silly" has had:
Happy, blissful; fortunate, lucky, well-omened, auspicious
Spiritually blessed, enjoying the blessing of God
Pious, holy, good
Innocent, harmless
Deserving of pity or sympathy; pitiable, miserable, ‘poor’; helpless, defenceless
Insignificant, trifling; mean, poor; feeble
Frail, worn-out, crazy
Foolish, simple, silly

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Lay" has been used intransitively to mean "lie" since 1300. No one really cared about it until Baker in 1770, who decided that this was wrong, and who formulated the modern prescriptive judgments about "lay" and "lie". Some more recent usage writers have decided that the distinction is not worth defending.

Language Log gives some unhelpful advice: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/arch...

Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage: http://books.google.com/books?id=2yJusP0vrdgC&a...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Anonymous,
Thank you. I am enlightened. Please further inform me. Where was my grammar incorrect when responding literally to a question? As for social obligations. I don't recall mentioning them. Unless you are assuming the social obligation of telling someone exactly to whom it is that they are speaking. A speech pattern I believe I was rather obviously against. But, again, thanks.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This is she, if you want to say it correctly.
This is her, if you want to say it incorrectly.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Really Marilyn? That old canard? I'm loath to cock a snook at even so learned a maven as you, but "lay versus lie" is not so much a grammatical issue as a social one.

I presume you are alluding to the widespread taboo on using "lay" intransitively for "lie." The simple rule is generally this: "lie" is for people, "lay" is for things. (Easy to remember: many people lie.) But whence the distinction? I'll tell you whence: from long dead grammar cops with a social agenda. You de-bag the cat yourself when you quotationize "educated." For "lay" and "lie" have long been in the same bed.

Evidence, you say? OK. From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage:

"The OED shows that "lay" has been used intransitively in the sense of "lie" since around the year 1300."

Which should, but won't, lay the issue to rest. There is more. M-W also says:

"The conflict between oral use and school instruction has resulted in the distinction becoming a social shibboleth – a marker of class and education."

I know what you're thinking: educated people talk good. Ergo people lie and things lay. But "educated" people didn't create English, or any language, except Esperanto. And when did anyone last converse in that flat tongue? No, language is created, nurtured and cultivated by poor slobs who wouldn't know an intransitive verb if it gave them a bus transfer, bless 'em.

And yes, I know exactly how snobbish that sounds.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

But if you're an American "he" you'd be more likely to say "thaaat's me!" than either "this is he" or "this is him" so the days of women saying the female equivalent of either are probably numbered?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Thank you, all!! I prefer the sound of, "this is she", but I don't cringe when I hear, "this is her", anymore. I will start saying, "speaking", however.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

OK, as I really can't get my head around when anyone would say either 'This is she' or 'This is her', how about this - which pair sound more natural?

That's her over there. This will be him coming now.
That's she over there. This will be he coming now.

Exactly the same grammatical structure - copular verb with theoretically a subject complement rather than an object - bot who would ever say the latter pair?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@ Peter (in belated Re: to your question posted Feb 24)-

Two categories:
1) The professional men in my life tend to answer with a confirmation of their identity.

"Is this John Smith?"
"Yes, this is John."

2) My homeboys answer:

"Yup"

Not to say I haven't heard "This is he." I have, just less often than I hear the women in my family use it. And admittedly, I hear "This is him." occasionally too. It may have something to do with a belief peculiar to my family that the women are raised to be the bastions of good grammar, whereas the young male children are perhaps allowed more leeway because women are thought to be the early and most influential educators of each subsequent generation. Therefore correct grammar is more important to their role in the family.

Just a random theory.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I won't assert that it is always followed, but the prescriptive rule is that "lie" is intransitive and "lay" is transitive. As for the bit about "'lie' is for people, 'lay' is for things",well, I would not classify that as a general rule. It doesn't represent common usage, nor is it any kind of accepted prescriptive rule. Frankly, it doesn't even make much sense. I'd group it with other grammar myths like the prohibition on dangling prepositions.

Of course, it only adds to the confusion that the past tense of "lie" is "lay". Just for fun, it's "lie, lay, lain", to include the past participle, and, to compare, "lay, laid, laid."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It is an example of a copulative disjunctive, which sounds really kinky. It means the same grammatical structure as 'C'est moi!' in French: subject - 'being/becoming' verb - complement. Such verbs don't have an object, they should have a nominative complement. When this is in the form of a pronoun, as is very usual in using the first person of the verb, the disjunctive (me/us) is preferred: 'It is I' or (impersonal) 'it was we who ...' sound a bit implausible, no? Especially "It is I" when answering the phone, for example. But there are times when "It is I" is okay, as in "It is I who have to shoulder the burden".

Second person: you can't tell, as all forms go "you".

Third person: 'That's him/her/them', because 'that' is impersonal, and wants a disjunctive complement, which in English looks like the accusative/object form. In French it would be 'lui/elle/eux'. "C'est lui qui doit ..." and such is the French attention to their grammar, so sadly badly taught in England, or not at all, that I would put "Ce sont eux qui doivent ...".

Back to the point: when people ask for me on the phone I say (if indeed it is me) "that's me", and if they grumble about my grammar I say I am using the disjunctive pronoun "me" because it is appropriate in a short statement, not followed by a relative clause, and if they don't like it they must put up with it.
That usually puts their gas on a peep, as we say in Scotland, and has them flocking to bookshops seeking works on English grammar for their edification.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Warsaw Will - I don't agree with everything you said, but gave you a thumbs up for the Hyacinth Bucket reference. :)

Grammar is important, and dumbing it down to 'normal spoken English' is not doing anyone any favours.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

P.S. 'This is she/he.' She/He is this. Predicate nominative.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

There has been an ongoing theme on this thread of people using the grammar of another language to prove their case in English. A general question for everyone: Is that really a valid tactic? Why or why not?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

“Lay” has been used intransitively to mean “lie” since 1300. No one really cared about it until Baker in 1770, who decided that this was wrong, and who formulated the modern prescriptive judgments about “lay” and “lie”. Some more recent usage writers have decided that the distinction is not worth defending. Again, I have to wonder where Marilyn's rules of "strictly formal English" come from, if not from the opinions of usage writers and educated speakers, not all of whom agree on this issue.

Language Log gives some unhelpful advice: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/arch...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Marilyn, I believe you are under a misconception. Regarding your statement: "... But this is a forum on correct grammar and usage as dictated by the rules, such as they are...", nothing could be further from the truth.

This is from the "about us" page of this very website: "...because the experts can never agree with one another...PainInTheEnglish.com encourages discussions of such gray areas of the English language, for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries and other reference books..."

You will find many debates on this site between strict prescriptivists and studied linguistics descriptivists, sometimes inspired, sometimes tedious, but usually interesting. Yes, often someone studying ESL is obviously looking for the "rule" and instead gets a less than useful digression into the social implications of judging regionalisms or growing acceptance of subject-verb case mismatch, but the point is, this site is not about rules, but encouraging interesting discussions and debates we might all learn from.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh, and thanks, John. I was just about to post "where is John the linguist when we need him?":) (assuming, of course, you're the same John)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I'd be wary of trusting Elements of Style. The books written as advice for college students in writing essays. Nowadays it is marketed to all writers, but the content hasn't been updated consistently.
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles...
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/theword...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Sorry to come in at the end -- but could anyone tell me what they think of this angle? You are showing someone a picture of a friend of yours and you say -- this is she and her father on vacation last year. ?? Does this REALLY sound correct to anyone?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"The ‘is’ is like an equal sign in this instance, because sentences like this, “is” shows the state-of-being relationship between the two ideas. “She” is identifying herself in this sentence. ‘This’ and ’she’ are the same thing, and therefore are in the same case (the nominative)."

in person, we point to someone and say "That's her" not "That's she" is that wrong too? should we say "That's she?" or does switching "This" with "That" change the structure of the state-of-being relationship between the two ideas ? is it because she, instead of someone else, is identifying herself ?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

In Spanish, "soy yo" does not mean "I am me." It means "I am I." The translation for "I am me" is "soy mi," which is grammatically incorrect under Spanish grammar.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

A bit off topic, but never mind. The literal translation of 'soy yo' may well be 'I am I', but that is meaningless in English and an idiomatic translation would be something more like 'it's me'. From various songs, with my efforts at translation:

Soy yo quien mira la lluvia - It's me who's looking at the rain / I'm the one looking at the rain
Alguien te amó y alguien soy yo - Someone loved you and that someone is me.
Y esta soy yo - And this is me
Soy yo, te lo digo a ti. - It's me, I'm telling you

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

As goofy pointed out no one ever points to a photograph of their childhood and says, "That's I!" It's ridiculous and any person who did that would be looked at with a rather odd expression... and rightly so.

Someone above proclaimed "Poorly formed language indicates poorly formed thought." However, thought is but one major purpose of language. One other major purpose of language is to communicate. I've known many great communicators who wouldn't touch your preapproved, prepackaged English with a space tether. The point is they are capable of conveying their meaning clearly and commanding respect through their communications better than any English professor I've ever known.

Stick that in your grammar text bible.

Until there is an truly objective scientific method for distinguishing proper language constructs I'll remain skeptical when ass-hats in conference rooms sit around deciding amongst themselves how I and everyone else should "properly form thoughts." Until then I'll continue to speak Americanese and leave the Queen's English to the snobs.

Someone above asked what "hobnobbery" had to do with this conversation. Not sure, but perhaps he meant hobnob, as in "a friendly, informal chat."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Nothing snobby about the Queen's English. If the 'Queen' part of the term confuses you, Mr. Quincy, you should know that in England the current royal family are thought of as newcomers and upstarts, or at least feel that way: there are many amusing quotes about the Queen speaking of certain of the nobility as "much too grand for the likes of us". Remember Queen Victoria spoke with a German accent, and George I could not speak English at all. Ever. Meanwhile the nobility includes families whose lineage stretches back to the Middle Ages.

Now, as for your "it is I" construction the clue is in French grammar and its labelling: "C'est moi" - 'ce' is the nominative subject, 'est' is the verb, and folk get stressed wondering what 'moi' might be, as it is nominative but it is not the subject, but the complement, and French uses the disjunctive pronoun 'moi', or 'toi' or 'lui' or whoever. The English form of this pronoun is similar to the accusative form: 'me, you, him, her, them' and so on. So we say "It's me" and that's why.

Have you met any English professors? You say the ones you've known can't communicate. The ones I've known communicated frightfully enthusiastically and well. That was long ago and far away. They raved most earnestly about literature, and showed little enthusiasm for grammar. Literature is not about grammar, and literary figures are not there to provide us with models of sound English sentence structure and grammatical forms, but about many things above and beyond this. I recall studying Chekhov as part of my A-level English many decades ago, but in fact the man penned his stuff in Russian, so we were in fact studying the drama form, not the language used. We had no need to read Russian to follow the plot of our studies.

So, Mr. Quincy, I have advised before and do so again, if you are ticked off for saying "it's me" then you must rise up, I say, to your full height, look your interlocutor in the eye, and say with hauteur, "I use the disjunctive pronoun, of course". So put that arrow in your quiver.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I googled "this is she" after reading HP's list of offending grammatical mistakes. Had no idea all of you "militant grammarians" were encamped on this website. What fun! I had been taught that "This is she" is the correct usage. Agree that is doesn't "sound right." However at 60, I have to say I'll go deaf before "Him and me are going out" sounds right either. Being a bit of a mugwamp here, I think the best advice is to waffle: "speaking" seems to fit the bill without having to make a choice to get it wrong, to offend, or sound like a pompous arse.

p.s. To stark, raving, and clearly mad Marilyn, I love your story, your style, your spunk. I am in Lawrence, Ks. I know know fly-zone very well.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Very interesting discussion (hard to find anything on the web regarding this issue).
Once again, Wiktionary illustrates it best (in my opinion):
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/me#Pronoun

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

- C'est vous?
- Oui, c'est moi.
So, the French have a word for it: moi. It means me in short phrases, such as prepositional phrases ( avec moi, chez moi ...). They say it is a disjunctive pronoun. Well, they say that in French, of course, but the point is that we too have 'me' as a disjunctive pronoun. This is why "It's me" doesn't hurt when you hear it the way "She asked Bob and I to supper", etc., hurts, or "She's coming with Lucy and I".
If in doubt use me, if you are rebuked or sense that you are thought remiss for using it just say you are using it disjunctively and not to be such a pedant.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

She is the person to whom you are speaking.
Therefore, I prefer ”this is she” as the most correctly constructed version of that response. Jm2c
What do I know? I'm in the Navy...we use a different language altogether (scuttlebutt, starboard, forecastle/fo'c'sle, etc.).

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

A few points to consider:

There is no final authority on ehe English language as in the case of French or Spanish

The purpose of a language is to communicate. If you are understood, who cares about the rules.

English is a dynamic language, constantly changing. If you are not inclined to follow a rule, make up one that suit you. If enough people find it aceptable it may become a new rule.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Speaking" can very well be a noun. "Your speaking is very clear and enunciated" works as a sentence. Similarly then one could say, "This is her speaking."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh, come on now. Isn't it obvious that when someone says “This is her speaking”, that "speaking" is not a noun? Surely no one actually believes that it's a declaration of "TA DA! I am presenting you with the spoken words uttered by her", and by her, I mean me (don't you hate when someone refers to themselves in the third person? how pretentious!). It doesn't make any sense. While hypothetically, I suppose you could, in some twisted, mangled way, parse the sentence that way, it would be a complete non-sequitor. The only way it would make any sense at all is if the conversation went something like this:


::::: ring, ring :::::
"Hello?"
"Yes, hello Rene. I know it's you. I recognize your voice. You just said 'hello'. Is this 'hello', as well as the words you are about to utter, an example of your, meaning Rene's, actual speech, the audible vibrations created by your vocal cords representing English words?"
"This is her speaking"


Why in the world would anyone delclare that the words they are speaking are examples of their own speech?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

By the way, my name is not Rene, and I am male, but the original question is about "...her speaking..."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The other thing I look to add is some people think 'this is she' is more formal for some reason.. I think there's a term for that in linguistics, when people think they know the real way but they really don't. It usually comes as a result of 'this is she' being more foreign and, therefore, more correct, or more formal. Ok, I know that is not a good explanation, but if you know what I'm talking about, you will understand.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I think saying "C'est Moi!" is really better. Just speaking another language and do away with these pesky things

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Why not just answer the question?

Usually when you're answering the phone somebody asked the question, "May [or more casually, 'can'] I speak to so-and-so?"
So and so: "Yes."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

But in so doing, you don't inform the caller of your identity. "Yes" merely means that the caller may, indeed, speak to the asked for person. Of course, one can choose to melodically intone, "Yes. This is Cruella, Cruella Deville," or whatever, making one's self known by name. However, if a pronoun is used, "she/he," the nominative case pronoun, is correct.

The militant grammarian is waving to in Lawrence, Kansas, a picture perfect small town I love and know well. When passing through, I eat at Tellers, since they tarted up the charming old Free State Hotel, which has been called the Eldridge in recent years. Academician? I'm in the greater St. Louis area.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Dang! The name of home before dark disappeared out of my posting, to wit: ". . . waving to home before dark in Lawrence, Kansas . . ."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Peter Reynolds,

You don't have knowledge of formal grammar, do you?

"This is she/he/it/I" is the formal form of "This is her/him/it/me". Your anecdotes are meaningless. It's not an Americanism nor a Britishism; it is formal grammar use.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Sorry if I ask something wrong. I am Russian so English is foreign for me.
Suppose someone asks me what my brother looks like. I show him photo. What should I say in this case: "this is he (i.e. my brother)" or "this is him"?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

*site

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Count me as one of the people who found Peter's post to be adding positive value to the discussion. Never before had I viewed the response "This is s/he" to be a feminine trait. Peter's post made me stop and think about it, and I did enjoy a little moment of revelation where I thought maybe his observation might be valid.

For what it's worth, I am female and have always, always, answered the telephone inquiry in question with "This is she." I have never considered it snobby, I don't do it in an effort to impress. I can only assure everyone that I am not from high breeding, nor do I aspire to be. I answer the phone that way because that's how my mother did it when I was a child. My grandmother did it, my aunts did it, and all of my friends did as well. I had never heard it in any other way I cared to emulate. Upon discovery of this thread years ago, I was positively flummoxed to learn that it is such a hotly debated issue.

Regardless of whether or not popular current usage ever manages to prove me "wrong" to use "This is she"; I think I would remain partial to its use because it is a definitive, unarguable statement that sets a tone of confidence for the conversation to follow. Other responses can too easily fall into a pit of being hesitant or unsure, setting a faltering tone for the coming conversation.

*"Is this Jane Smith?"
"Ah... yeah. That... would be me, I guess... What do you want?"*

Are you sure you know who you are?

In contrast, no one may argue with the confidence of
*"This is SHE!"*
Speak and be heard.

I think the discomfort many people have with correct usage in this case stems from the phenomenon that there is a mini-moment at the beginning of the conversation where the receiver is forced to think of himself in the third person. He may, after all, not be the person in question at all, which leads to the aforementioned hesitation in response. Many people's daily lives don't present much opportunity to view themselves from a detached perspective. Hence, I would like to proffer the hypothesis that the unfamiliarity of the concept breeds contempt of the use.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Shy and tired-eyed am I today."
-Laura Marling

It is this line she wrote after the eyes that she called hers gazed upon all posts written by those who typed them on the page that you, I and we are all reading.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Warsaw Will,

Yes, I was wrong about the anecdote. I will concede to that, but I will not concede to my despisal of his ignorant judgment of another person.

@Joy,

What my main issue is is stated in your own post (brackets for emphasis):

"Hence, I would like to proffer the hypothesis that the [unfamiliarity of the concept breeds contempt of the use]."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper "ignorant judgment of another person" - only unaware of how some women on another continent speak - if a British woman spoke like that she'd have to be a very odd one - and I *have* had some genuinely odd reactions from US customers who thought I was a telemarketer, apparently a breed which the US is seriously more plagued by than here in UK (even here we get quite a few). In any case I have learned since then (and before participating on this forum) that "This is she" is not odd in USA.

@Joy How would the men in your life and background answer the same questions to which you answer "This is SHE"?

Actually I am somewhat aware of the pronoun issues since some 20 years ago I tried translating "It's me" into Dutch when speaking to my Dutch host's children (should be "Ik ben het", not "Het is mij" which makes no sense to a Dutch person). Of course correct English says "It is I" (as can be seen in the King James version of the Bible). Do you wonderfully correct people who insist on using "This is she" because of grammar also say "It is I" because of the same grammar? Or at least do you NOT say "It's me"? ;)

I learned a fair bit about grammar from learning Dutch, a language which is very similar to English, although English and Dutch have developed in different ways, even since the 16th/17th century English of the King James Bible.

Another instance of correct grammar being insisted on by Americans in actual common speech is the use of "whom" in a much wider variety of circumstances than we use it in Britain, even to the point of compound words such as "whomever". This too sounds stilted to a British ear, though some of us too are aware of the theoretical grammatical distinction.

On the other hand my Texan wife and in-laws frequently use adjectives in place of adverbs in speech (even though they know not to write like that), and use "a" instead of "an" before a vowel (though there again they probably wouldn't write like that.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Paul Reynolds,

There is nothing to correct in "It is she" vs. "It is I". They are two different personal pronouns. The only thing that could be seen as awkward is the use of the third person instead of the first person. Also not once have I criticized the use of "It is her/him/it/me/them" in comparison to "It is he/she/it/they/I". My issue was with what I interpreted as a slight twinge of superiority in your judgment. I pointed out formal grammar because of how you reacted to someone using 'she' instead of 'her'.

On 'whomever', the propagation of it might have increased since its use. This was typically found in the archaic form of 'whomsoever' and 'whosoever'.

I want to say your second-to-last paragraph seems like a generalization. I don't think prescriptivists are just Americans.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Now I'm confused. I'm sorry I came across as superior. I don't think I was really comparing "this is she" "with "this is her" - I would be unlikely to hear either except when phoning USA. If I heard "this is her" I would think it sounded a bit awkward/clumsy (wouldn't make a grammatical judgement); whereas uninformed as I was to the frequency of its US usage when I first heard "this is she" (a good number of years ago), it sounded to my uninformed British ear as though the person was being ironic and trying to sound like someone from the 19th century or further back.

I'm familiar with "whomsoever" as I was brought up on the King James Bible and still use that Bible. In Britain "whosoever" has become "whoever", and dictionaries and Google testify that "whomever" does exist even in UK, but I've never heard anyone use it in speech. I'd be vaguely aware that to use "whoever" as an object would be ungrammatical, but would feel it was too stilted to replace it with "whomever".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I thought I, She, He, We, They are used as subjects and Her, Him, Her, Them, Us are used as objects (not sure if object is the term)
ex: It's me. - in this sentence the subject is It and the sentence is saying that It is Me or in another case like in the sentence This is a pen, This is equal to It and pen is equal to me.
Correct sentences for me:
She and I are going out. (subject:She and I object:going out)
It is between her and me. (subject:It object:her and me)
I am her. (subject:I object:her)

Her can be used in more than one way right? Not just for possession. Why don't other people know that?! Isn't that weird? Her can be an object too aside from using it for possession (her ball, her hand, etc.). Ex: I told her. (subject:I object:her)

And you can't just interchange the subject and object in the sentence. Ex: "It is me." cannot be "Me is it." To make the sentence this way, it will be "I am it." So you can't use that "interchange" thing as a basis for making a rule like "She is me." is wrong because "Me is she." is wrong, because we all know that the first sentence is right and the 2nd is wrong.
"This is her." is not wrong. I've read a post saying that it is wrong because when you interchange the nouns, it will be "Her is this."! What?! When you interchange the nouns in "This is her.", it will be "She is this." (meaning: she is this person right here) "She" is used as a subject and when it becomes an object, it becomes "Her". Get it?

You are smarter than I is different from You are smarter than I am and it's not a short version. If you're going to use the first sentence, it should be You are smarter than me. In You are smarter than I am, "I am" refers to how smart the person referred to is. It is not the same as the "I am" in the sentence "I am a person". which is the subject in this case and not the object.

I've heard characters in tv and movies use "This is she." for me, this is not grammatically correct because there is no rule that can say that it is correct. Maybe some people are just used to saying it or heard it from supposedly smart people and trusted them right away. It's not wrong to use it as long as other people understand, but, you shouldn't use it in arguments like this.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper - I really think you're making an interpretation I just don't see. Peter's 'offending' sentence was:

'The first time I heard "this is she" I thought the customer was being ironic because she was being asked if she was, say, Janet, by an unidentified caller'

I don't see any sense of superiority there at all. As Peter hadn't heard this expression being used before, he was puzzled, that's all. And even joy, who uses 'This is she' herself, far from taking umbrage, found Peter's observation interesting.

I hate to say it (because it really seems out of character), but I'm only getting a feeling of superiority from one person in this discussion: I quote - 'You don't have knowledge of formal grammar, do you?', ' I will not concede to my despisal of his ignorant judgment of another person.'

As regards 'whomever', its use seems to be on the increase:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=wh...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

There is no accusative form in English; you meant "objective". Not the same thing.

And the only "true" nominative forms occur only as a tiny corpus of pronouns: I, he, she, we, they and who - if you are one of those who still use "whom".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Warsaw Will,

Yes, you're right. By my second post, I defended my position, distorting it at that, for the sake of defending it. I will admit to that and be judged accordingly. I acted in a bellicose and outright vulgar manner.

@Peter Reynolds,

I apologize. My behavior was unacceptable and uncivil. I don't expect you to accept it, nor do I want you to, only for the fact that my behavior was inexcusable. I hope you will continue post here on Pain in the English, despite my vitriol.

I think I won't be posting on Pain in the English for awhile. My apologies to all here.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh dear, all this talk of 'bellicose' and 'unacceptable' and 'vulgar'. 'Inexcusable' and apologies all over the place. Not a clue as to what need there is for apologies in the preceding debate about the correctness of saying "This is she".
Is this something to do with this new thing they teach children about not being 'judgmental'? Can't make head nor tail of it myself. Makes no sense at all. I believe 'political correctness' comes into it somewhere, an American thing now but originating as one of Lenin's little jokes. (Bad news to study the law and end up becoming a judge, only not to be allowed to be judgmental!)
Calm down, children, and have another glass of wine, I say! Come back, Jasper, and post away, come on, do.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Your Comment