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Thread: "I" vs. "Me"

  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    Talking "I" vs. "Me"

    When is it proper to use "I" and when is it proper to use "me"

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    When is it proper to use "I" and when is it proper to use "me"
    Use "I" before the verb: when it's the subject:

    I like John.

    Use "me" after the verb: when it's the object:

    John likes me.
    John gave me a CD.
    John is taking you and me to dinner.

    With the verb To Be (e.g., am, are, was, were, is, etc.), traditional grammar says that we should use "I", but native speakers tend not to. They use "me" instead:

    John: Hello? Who's speaking?
    Max: It is me, Max. (OK)
    Max: It is I, Max. (OK)

    is is a To Be verb, so "I" is the proper form traditionally, but "me" is used and accepted today.

  3. Steven D's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    is is a To Be verb, so "I" is the proper form traditionally, but "me" is used and accepted today.


    I would simply call it correct. It's what I've always said and have always heard. Does anyone think that there was ever a time when just about everyone who spoke English always said "It is I"? I somehow don't believe that was ever the case.

    It's me.

    It's her.

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    Does anyone think that there was ever a time when just about everyone who spoke English always said "It is I"? I somehow don't believe that was ever the case.
    True, true. "It's me" is attested since the 16th century, which means it's been around for a long time, even before the 16th century. It wasn't until the 17th century, when Latin grammatical concepts such as the Latin-derived rule, "to be", a copular verb, links two noun phrases of the same case, whether this be nominative or accusative, was introduced (enforced?) to teach English grammar:

    EX: I believe that he is I (nominative = nominative)
    EX: I believe him to be me. (accusative = accusative)

    According the traditional grammar (i.e., prescriptive grammar), "It's me" is not 'proper' because "It" and "me" do not share the same case, but according to descriptive grammar, "It's me" is 'correct', and not because that's what the majority of people use. It's 'correct' in the sense that it actually follows a rule.

    In English, word order determines meaning, so using "me" after the verb works. If it comes before a verb, it's a subject ("I") and if it follows a verb, it's an object ("me"):

    EX: I believe that he is me.
    EX: I believe him to be me.
    EX: It is me.

    The rule applies if the pronoun is the subject complement; it doesn't apply if the pronoun is the actual subject.

    EX: *Who are them? (Subject complement are Subject)

    With WH questions, the subject is placed after the verb, making it appear as if it's the subject complement:

    Question Formation: They are students.
    (Step 1) WH-Replacement: They are who?
    (Step 2) WH-Movement: Who are they?

  5. Steven D's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    In English, word order determines meaning, so using "me" after the verb works. If it comes before a verb, it's a subject ("I") and if it follows a verb, it's an object ("me"): <<

    Good point. I like that. I've thought that before, but somehow it escaped me.

    - same thing, but said differently: I think saying that an object pronoun follows a verb makes sense as well.

    So we can say "It's me." etc., is correct English and standard English when ESL/EFL students ask. I really don't feel I owe the prescriptivists who invent such rules any explanation for how I/we speak.

    Would you say so?

    It's me. - Correct English. That's what I say, and it's correct. English is my first language.

    In my lessons I just call it correct if it ever comes up. If I can remember the big Latin story, I might mention it.

    But you know, it's just too much to always here students say "I?" when they're not sure if someone is talking to them or if a question is being directed at them. No, not "I". It's "me". "Me?" "Yes, you".
    Last edited by Steven D; 13-Nov-2004 at 04:12.

  6. Steven D's Avatar

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    #6

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    If it is followed by "who", then that's another story I say.

    for example:

    It is he who tells you that "It's me." is correct and standard English.

    It is I who tell you so as well.


    And by the way, the academic exam people ought to wake up and stop insisting that test takers "confess" that "It is me." is incorrect. It's not incorrect. It's correct.

  7. Steven D's Avatar

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    #7

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    [QUOTE=Casiopea]True, true. "It's me" is attested since the 16th century, which means it's been around for a long time, even before the 16th century. It wasn't until the 17th century, when Latin grammatical concepts such as the Latin-derived rule, "to be", a copular verb, links two noun phrases of the same case, whether this be nominative or accusative, was introduced (enforced?) to teach English grammar:

    EX: I believe that he is I (nominative = nominative)
    EX: I believe him to be me. (accusative = accusative)
    QUOTE]


    So then the idea that a nominative must follow "be" is not really traditional. It's just something that some attempted to impose on English grammar. No one really ever went along with it in reality. How can one say it is traditional and proper when it was never used in the first place?
    Last edited by Steven D; 13-Nov-2004 at 04:11.

  8. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    same thing, but said differently: I think saying that an object pronoun follows a verb makes sense as well.
    Me, too. It's more precise.

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    So we can say "It's me." etc., is correct English and standard English when ESL/EFL students ask.
    Why bother with adjectives: "It's English" sounds good to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    I really don't feel I owe the prescriptivists who invent such rules any explanation for how I/we speak. Would you say so?
    Agreed, but there are speakers who use those rules, so I personally wouldn't discount traditional grammar; I tend to try (i.e., level and time permitting) to empower students by giving them whatever knowledge will help them understand the function and distribution of given forms. For example,

    ESL student: Hello? May I speak with John, please.
    John: This is he.

    => ESL student's question: Shouldn't he say, "This is me"?
    => ESL instructor's reply: Yes, and no. "This is he" is formal English, based on traditional rules, and speakers use it in formal situations. Determining what's formal and not formal is based on speaker choice. You have a choice: If you want to sound formal, use "This is s/he", and if you don't want to sound formal, use "This is me". "This is me" is non-formal English. It's not informal, or slang. It's what people commonly use and say in situations that are not formal.

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    In my lessons I just call it correct if it ever comes up. If I can remember the big Latin story, I might mention it.
    You and me, both. I tend not to get into the origins, though. Differentiating formal usage versus non-formal usage seems to work well, as long as the terms informal/slang are clearly defined as well.
    For, say, TOEFL, I'd take the time to explain the Latin origins of the rule, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    But you know, it's just too much to always here students say "I?" when they're not sure if someone is talking to them or if a question is being directed at them. No, not "I". It's "me". "Me?" "Yes, you".
    Well, I know, it's the same all around I believe. Doing a light-hearted skit on "you" and "I" and "me" has proven to be a good warm-up and/or review.

    With ESL students, Who's on first? is a great deal of fun, too.

    With PRO-drop languages like Japanese, you and the student could be the only two people in the room, and the student would still ask, "Who, me? Are you asking me?"

  9. Steven D's Avatar

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    #9

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    I would use the adjective "correct" and "standard" in this case just so everyone understands that I, and others, do not speak incorrectly.

    It's me. - Despite what anyone else says, this is correct English.

    I will be relentless in arguing this point if someone would like to call it "incorrect".

  10. Steven D's Avatar

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    #10

    Re: "I" vs. "Me"

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by X Mode
    I really don't feel I owe the prescriptivists who invent such rules any explanation for how I/we speak. Would you say so?

    Agreed, but there are speakers who use those rules, so I personally wouldn't discount traditional grammar; I tend to try (i.e., level and time permitting) to empower students by giving them whatever knowledge will help them understand the function and distribution of given forms. For example,

    ESL student: Hello? May I speak with John, please.
    John: This is he. <<

    But it's not really traditional. People have always said "It's me" and "That's him. - and "That's her." etc..

    The rule, as mentioned earlier, was invented. It was imposed on English by grammarians in order to conform to Latin rules of grammar.

    It's really a "rule". How can it be a rule if the vast and overwhelming majority of speakers don't abide by it in their speaking?

    If someone would like to answer the phone with "This is he." that's his problem.

    And if one would like to insist on saying 'It is I." that's their choice. I think it sounds funny.

    LOL!

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