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  1. #1
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    Default "but it wasn't he" ?

    Here's a sentence from a book entitled "The Sandler Inquiry" :

    He wasn't killed in 1954. I don't know who was, but it wasn't he

    Shouldn't it be "him" ???

  2. #2
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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    Actually, the author is correct. In this espionage thriller, is the speaker someone in the British Foreign Office? The use of the nominative case after the verb "to be" is correct, but would be most likely used by someone being 'terribly correct' in their speech. In normal casual conversation, just about everyone would disregard this rule and say, "It wasn't him."

  3. #3
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    Consider if the sentence if continued: It wasn't he who was killed.

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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    That certainly 'tones down' how 'correct' it sounds to the listener's ear, because it's like the "he who" becomes a kind of joint nominative case with the verb "was". If you would like my best guidance on this, then avoid sentences like, "It wasn't she/he." On their own, they sound far too pretentious. However, in such sentences as you now quote, "...but it wasn't he who was killed", stick with good grammar: it won't stick out like a sore thumb, and is better-educated English!

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    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    hi there,

    i was watching an American movie the other day when i heard a guy saying "it's he" when answering a phone call.

    the person on the other side of the line probably asked to talk to somebody and the guy in this side of the line replied "it's he".

    the sentence sounded odd to me, but i am only a student...

    could he have answered "it's him"?

    thanks

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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    I don't know whether it was the same movie, but such a reply to a phone call is rare, so it must be - I do see a lot of movies!
    I remember thinking that it was typical of the character in the movie, who was a bit of a pretentious type.

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    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    I don't know whether it was the same movie, but such a reply to a phone call is rare, so it must be - I do see a lot of movies!
    I remember thinking that it was typical of the character in the movie, who was a bit of a pretentious type.

    hi David,

    i am not sure i understood your reply.

    the name of the movie is "what lies beneath", with Harrison Ford and Michele Pfiffer and the character who answered the phone call was played by Harrison Ford.

    so, the correct English is "it's him"?

    thanks a lot.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    Ahhhhhh....American movies! Hollywood The Dream Factory and Mince-Meat Grinder of English Grammar.
    They go out of their way to say, "It's he", and in the next breath will say, "between you and I".
    Be very careful trying to learn grammar from movies!

  9. #9
    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "but it wasn't he" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Ahhhhhh....American movies! Hollywood The Dream Factory and Mince-Meat Grinder of English Grammar.
    They go out of their way to say, "It's he", and in the next breath will say, "between you and I".
    Be very careful trying to learn grammar from movies!
    hi,

    yes, i agree with you... Hollywood movies are not a good English teacher!

    but, as to my doubt, the correct grammar is "it's him" opposed to "its he", right?

    thanks
    jc

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