Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


9.8.05
  Grammar Question of the Week

A tricky one:

It is me.
It is I.

Honestly, I never get that one.

Yes, I know I could look that stuff up, but I want to incite people to use the comment function here. *grin*
Nor would I mind some discussion, I know there isn't always a simple answer.
 
Comments:
This is easy. Despite the fact that 'I' is the object of 'is', the correct phrase is, "It is I." When it comes to verbs, "is" is sort of an equals sign. So if you reverse the equation, "Me is it" does not make sense.

That said, 99% of Americans will say, "It is me." (Or, really, "It's me," since no one I know would say "It is me.") "It is I" suggests a very precise speaker, a British twit.

So: "It's me" is wrong, but that's what I'd go with.
 
Aha! A grammar pedant. You'll be starting sentences with conjunctions and ending them with prepositions next.
 
Doug, no wonder I didn't find any rule for that if 99% get it wrong, lol. But I can use it to distinguish the characters, the Roman Horatius would say it is I while the tribal warrior Talorcan who has only some basic Latin, could say it's me.

James, I sometimes do start a sentence with a cunjunction if that makes for a better flow within context. ;)
 
A pedant writes...

Despite the fact that 'I' is the object of 'is', the correct phrase is, "It is I."

The verb "to be" is a copulative verb, rather than a transitive verb, and as such has no "object" - instead it takes an "oblique complement" which, as far as pronouns go, is the same as the predicate. So Doug is right to say that "It is I" is the usual form.

I say "usual" rather than "correct" because English has no real rules; however readers of English will draw inferences about the text, and the inference of "it is me" is that the text is less formal (and possibly the writer less well educated) than would be the case with "it is I".
 
Ooh. Copulative verb. I like that.

I appoint Stephen the Local Grammar Expert. He clearly has his shit down far more than me!

best, y'all
 
Gabrielle, being the pedantic kind, I'd point out that Horatius would actually rather say "sum" than "it is be", being english a barbaric language of doubtable reputation *grin*...
Even more, depending on his inclinations, family history, rhetorics teachers, etc, he could even say even "sum mihi", or "mihi sum", which, apparently (but I may be mistaken, it has happened a couple of times before), would be a pretty common use of the ablative, even in the upper classes, after 100 BCE or so; while Talorcan would say "sum me", "est me", "esse ego" or simply reaffirm his identity with a knock of his sword pommel, or club (on the door, table, or head, where applicable :-)

yes, adorable is me ;-)

but using language to differentiate characters origins, if not abused, and not a big burden, is a good idea... Keep it up! (btw, I'm back from holidays, bummer)
 
Yas, but if you say "It is I" to anyone around here, you'll get the crap beat out of you. Well, kind of.
 
Too true!
 
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The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK and other places, with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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