Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

“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?

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Comments

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 Sep-06-2006

76 votes   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.

David_Fickett-Wilbar Sep-01-2006

22 votes   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?

Kurt1 Aug-31-2006

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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 Aug-25-2006

26 votes   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.

John4 Aug-25-2006

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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????

lois1 Aug-25-2006

21 votes   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.

John_Anderson Aug-22-2006

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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!

Jennifer3 Aug-21-2006

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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?"

John4 Jul-24-2006

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An interesting note:

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

Morgan1 Jul-17-2006

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

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

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

porsche Jul-10-2006

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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 Jul-10-2006

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

anonymous4 Jun-19-2006

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Potato Potaato

garthkensington Jun-19-2006

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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.

Bob3 Jun-18-2006

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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/fxitsmev.html

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 Jun-15-2006

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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."

Scott1 Jun-15-2006

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