'Be' is not a transitive verb, but a linking verb. A pronoun after 'is' or 'was' is not a direct object but a complement. Use the subject pronouns after 'is' and 'was'.
It is him who must decide.
It is he who must decide.
It was them who won the competition.
It was they who won the competition.
The newscaster's “Baker acknowledged that it was him
who sent the anonymous note,” shows the common problem of using an objective pronoun after some form of “to be” — is, are, was, were, been
. The preferred practice is to follow a “be” verb with a subjective
pronoun: This is she. Was it he? It is he who should apologize
. If that seems over-fastidious, we can always use a proper noun rather than a pronoun: This is Mary. Was it John? It is Frank who should apologize.
Some experts say it's high time we accepted such structures as it is me, that’s her, it’s him.
I don’t disagree, especially in speech, but the problem is our audience. Many see those constructions as wrong and — worse — ignorant. That perception is hazardous to any communicator but especially in writing, even in such “informal” workplace communication as e-mail, which is often printed and distributed to others. A mistake in writing is a mistake in a possibly permanent record — in which the real or perceived error remains to offend again and again. Our message is damaged when the reader gets caught up in form rather than content.
The best solution to such problems is to use neither a construction that might be seen as ungrammatical nor one that might be seen as stiff or stuffy. We can always write around the problem. In the “Baker” sentence above, for example, the writer could have deleted “it was he” and said simply: “Baker acknowledged that he sent the anonymous note.” Both in speech and in writing, such choices are easy, quick, and
Kedrika Communications Tips and Tactics
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