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“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.”


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.


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?

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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!

Jennifer August 21, 2006, 11:36pm

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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

mofei October 5, 2006, 12:04pm

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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."

illuminatiscott June 15, 2006, 9:03am

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"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.

Cal May 8, 2007, 8:20pm

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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.

Toria September 6, 2006, 10:29pm

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Common usage does not equal correct usage.

Jess May 8, 2007, 8:33pm

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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.

Cal May 8, 2007, 8:23pm

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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!

doylesatx May 5, 2007, 11:22pm

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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.

Anonymous May 7, 2007, 11:35am

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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.

John May 7, 2007, 11:44am

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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.

chuck EEE May 21, 2007, 11:57am

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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.

John February 23, 2007, 12:03pm

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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?

Kurt August 31, 2006, 12:35pm

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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.

Shawn May 18, 2007, 6:26pm

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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.

John Anderson August 22, 2006, 10:07am

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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!

Sian May 20, 2007, 3:48am

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Potato Potaato

garthkensington June 19, 2006, 5:33pm

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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."

goofy August 25, 2006, 1:46pm

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

Anonymous June 19, 2006, 5:47pm

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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.

Anonymous May 8, 2007, 8:44pm

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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 ;)

Nora December 7, 2006, 1:34am

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"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.

David Fickett-Wilbar September 1, 2006, 11:05pm

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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."

A Nony Mouse August 3, 2007, 10:46pm

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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.

Bob June 18, 2006, 1:26pm

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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????

Lois August 25, 2006, 11:09am

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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.

goofy September 9, 2006, 12:27am

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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?

beninlima July 20, 2007, 10:54am

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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 :)


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.

Melissa July 12, 2007, 11:28pm

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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.

mj July 23, 2007, 10:56am

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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!!

Goffers February 26, 2009, 2:11pm

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Scott is correct, as is your second link from
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:

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.

porsche June 15, 2006, 3:26pm

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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.


AO June 13, 2007, 11:44pm

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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.

Abby Normal September 14, 2007, 7:13am

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An interesting note:

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

Morgan July 17, 2006, 10:08am

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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?"

goofy July 24, 2006, 7:14pm

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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....

Shibrette July 30, 2007, 5:23am

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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.

Reality Dr. September 10, 2007, 6:04pm

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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.

John May 8, 2007, 8:43pm

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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."


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."

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."

MITRE June 6, 2007, 8:31am

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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.)

Avrom July 10, 2006, 12:25am

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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.

John July 13, 2007, 6:36am

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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."

A Communications Professional

P.S. Thanks to John for his insight!

Zai February 24, 2009, 6:45pm

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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.

AO April 14, 2008, 10:28am

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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.

lstrauss May 27, 2009, 12:09am

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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."

John Abraham December 11, 2011, 6:08am

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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*

Jen June 8, 2007, 3:53am

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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.

sdbolam February 22, 2008, 2:08pm

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<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.

jessebanet May 30, 2009, 10:30am

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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.

Truculent Youth August 20, 2012, 1:51pm

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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:

John September 14, 2007, 8:55am

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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.

Derek September 15, 2007, 3:18am

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"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.

John May 21, 2007, 2:29pm

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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!

shibrette July 30, 2007, 5:10am

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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'

Ed22SAS February 27, 2012, 3:43am

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I think the 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.

Drew October 24, 2007, 9:00am

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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.

John August 25, 2006, 1:44pm

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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".

John May 7, 2007, 10:55am

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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.

Derek September 14, 2007, 3:57am

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Kay April 8, 2009, 9:07am

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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.

the bottom line November 17, 2008, 12:21am

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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.

Jo Hawke February 26, 2009, 9:32pm

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Megan February 23, 2007, 10:23am

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"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."

John June 14, 2007, 2:59pm

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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.

Krystal January 25, 2009, 8:30pm

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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.

Recently Corrected January 28, 2009, 1:39pm

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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.

J Asly September 13, 2007, 11:18am

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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.

John September 14, 2007, 7:00am

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

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

porsche July 10, 2006, 1:15pm

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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.

peternowak April 11, 2009, 7:16pm

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

mrshawke April 11, 2009, 10:42pm

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

John July 30, 2007, 11:17am

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<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.

brian.wren.ctr May 27, 2009, 2:31pm

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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.

Carmela March 19, 2008, 7:49am

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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 have to make life interesting somehow...

SamiPajamies February 2, 2012, 7:58pm

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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?

liainsf May 10, 2008, 3:07pm

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"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").

JJMBallantyne May 11, 2008, 5:19am

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

mathwiz000000009 September 4, 2007, 10:59pm

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@ 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." :)


Foie Gras April 13, 2008, 7:44pm

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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:

John September 13, 2007, 6:36pm

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"This is she" is correct. You can skip all the jargon if you want to. Here's how I remember it: add a silent "who ..." after the sentence. "She who is speaking."

The reason is, you're announcing a subject ("she") who is going to be an actor in the sentence (be followed by a verb). "It is I who come." Not "It is me who comes." "Me" can't do anything, because it's an object. Only "I" can do things like come, speak, etc.

That's also why, you also use the pronoun-as-subject in certain comparisons. "He's better at cooking than I." Not "me." Because it's shorthand for, "He's better at cooking than I am." Not "me am."

Another example: "I like cheese better than she." You're comparing the verb ("like"), not the people ("I" and "she"). You're comparing how much you like cheese to how much she likes it. You're not comparing how much you like cheese to how much you like your friend. "I like cheese better than her," means - this is the literal meaning of this construction - that if you had to choose between the cheese and your friend, you'd pick the cheese.

None of this is a matter of opinion. It's just the way these parts of speech work. Sure, you can misuse them colloquially and still be understood, and if you do use them correctly you might even risk sounding like a nerd for your trouble. Still I think it's important to understand these words for what they are.

I mean, sure, you can use a flathead screwdriver to pry a nail out of the wall - it does work - but that's not what the tool is for, and if you want to use it skillfully it's important to know what it's for and why.

Elisabeth May 22, 2015, 11:21pm

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


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

JJMBallantyne April 22, 2008, 3:38am

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"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

JJMBallantyne April 22, 2008, 10:53am

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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

msjulieyaj December 9, 2009, 4:30pm

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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.

masrowan January 8, 2010, 1:06pm

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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.

Roz October 5, 2011, 4:53pm

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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.

keithwilson23 January 11, 2010, 5:15pm

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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."

John Anderson February 25, 2008, 7:23am

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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!

amazed February 25, 2008, 12:49pm

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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".

ghiaso-miyaso September 5, 2012, 9:07am

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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!

jonathan.hilgers March 21, 2010, 12:53pm

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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".

abby_patterson July 9, 2010, 2:33pm

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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:

Warsaw Will August 13, 2012, 11:31am

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

John June 1, 2007, 1:17pm

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"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.

goofy May 28, 2009, 12:12am

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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.

goofy May 28, 2009, 6:21pm

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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.

umop apisdn September 1, 2008, 6:21pm

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

message_in a bottle January 25, 2008, 7:39am

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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."

Jonathan C October 20, 2011, 12:58am

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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.

John April 17, 2008, 8:31am

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"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.

Evan October 26, 2011, 1:33pm

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Yes     No