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    #1

    Are you she?

    I know that the subjective pronoun is what we use in non-interrogative sentences that use the verb "to be". For example, "It is she."

    I have two questions:

    1. Do we still use subjective pronouns in interrogative sentences? (For example, "Are you she?")

    2. Is there some "rule" having to do with changing around interrogatives to declaratives that justifies the use of the subjective pronoun in theses cases? (I seem to vaguely remember some rule about turning questions around to statements in order to determine if a pronoun should take the subjective or objective form in the question.)

    Thanks :)

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    #2

    Re: Are you she?

    Quote Originally Posted by donnach View Post
    I know that the subjective pronoun is what we use in non-interrogative sentences that use the verb "to be". For example, "It is she."

    I have two questions:

    1. Do we still use subjective pronouns in interrogative sentences? (For example, "Are you she?")

    2. Is there some "rule" having to do with changing around interrogatives to declaratives that justifies the use of the subjective pronoun in theses cases? (I seem to vaguely remember some rule about turning questions around to statements in order to determine if a pronoun should take the subjective or objective form in the question.)

    Thanks :)

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Donnach:

    (1) You are the ESL tutor, aren't you?

    (2) You ask: Do we still use subjective pronouns in sentences with a

    linking verb.

    (a) I think it all depends on who "we" are.

    (i) If "we" are the majority of speakers in the States, I think that the

    answer is a resounding NO WAY!!!

    (ii) If "we" are the few people (especially "mature" people like me)

    who try to speak what we were taught to be standard English, then the

    answer is: OF COURSE!!!

    (3) "Are you she?" is analyzed -- as you said -- by putting it in

    correct order: You are she. Of course, the "are" means nothing.

    It is like an equals mark. You = she; she = you. (I hear that some

    languages do not even use linking verbs for many sentences.)

    (4) I think it is fair to say that if you telephoned and asked for

    Mona, she would answer: This is her./ This is Mona./ Speaking.

    Very few would answer: This is she.

    (5) If you heard a knock on your door and asked "Who's there?"

    do you think a big tough American football (not soccer) player

    would reply "It is I"? (Even if he knew the rule.) He would be committing

    social suicide. People would call him a sissy or .... (That's how

    people are. We can't change human nature.)

    (6) The irony of all this is that if you use "correct" English (e.g., "The

    guilty man is surely he."), many native speakers (not knowing the

    rule) would accuse you!!! of speaking "bad" English.

    (7) The bottom line:

    I most respectfully suggest:

    (a) You teach your student the "correct" way and then explain that

    most native speakers no longer follow this rule.

    (b) You use the "correct" way in your own life when you are dealing

    with people who would appreciate it; you use the popular (i.e., the

    incorrect) way when you are dealing with other "regular guys."

    (I have heard that even Her Majesty in England has changed

    some of her pronunciation over the years in order to make some of

    her words sound closer to the "ordinary" people. We all have to

    adjust our language in order to get along with others.)


    James

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    #3

    Re: Are you she?

    Oh, woe is I!

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    #4

    Re: Are you she?

    Trying to be too 'correct' can make you sound pompous. People just don't knock on a door and say 'It is I'. If someone asked 'Which one of you is Bob?' I wouldn't say 'I am he'; I'd just say 'Me', or - if the occasion seemed to call for formality - 'I am'.

    b

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    #5

    Re: Are you she?

    Hi TheParser,

    Thank you for your answer, and to answer your question, I am an ESL tutor.

    What about my second question? Am I remembering correctly about about changing questions to statements for parsing purposes? (We had an explicit rule about that, I believe. We diagrammed sentences back then too.)

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    #6

    Re: Are you she?

    we still use subjective pronouns in interrogative sentences?

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    #7

    Re: Are you she?

    Quote Originally Posted by donnach View Post
    I know that the subjective pronoun is what we use in non-interrogative sentences that use the verb "to be". For example, "It is she."

    I have two questions:

    1. Do we still use subjective pronouns in interrogative sentences? (For example, "Are you she?")

    2. Is there some "rule" having to do with changing around interrogatives to declaratives that justifies the use of the subjective pronoun in theses cases? (I seem to vaguely remember some rule about turning questions around to statements in order to determine if a pronoun should take the subjective or objective form in the question.)

    Thanks :)
    You seem to be confusing technical correctness with idiomaticity/general usage. It is always possible, when speaking/writing formally, to complement a copula with a nominative pronoun, irrespective of whether the form of the sentence is a question or a statement, positive or negative.

    To do so in daily conversation, however, as others have pointed out, would probably be considered somewhat pompous, although it is interesting to note that the level of conversational acceptability tends to increase considerably where the pronoun is followed by a relative clause, so that many speakers might well consider e.g.

    It was she who first suggested it.

    preferable to

    It was her who...

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    #8

    Re: Are you she?

    Quote Originally Posted by donnach View Post
    Hi TheParser,

    Thank you for your answer, and to answer your question, I am an ESL tutor.

    What about my second question? Am I remembering correctly about about changing questions to statements for parsing purposes? (We had an explicit rule about that, I believe. We diagrammed sentences back then too.)

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****



    Hello, Donnach:

    (1) Sorry that my post was not clear: Yes, you are 100% correct. In

    using the old-fashioned Reed-Kellogg diagramming system, you always

    put a question back into "regular" order. That is something that ESL

    students might not realize.

    (a) For example, why is "Who do you live with?" "wrong"?

    Because in regular order, you get "You do live with who." And

    "who" is "wrong." As you look at that sentence, you know that

    "good" English requires an objective form after a preposition. Thus

    the "correct" sentence is "Whom do you live with?" (Or even better:

    With whom do you live?) Changing questions back to "regular" order

    will really help your students to better understand the sentence.

    ***

    (2) I have great news for you. This is "Ask a Teacher" forum. There

    are many forums here. One is called the "Diagramming" forum. There is

    a teacher there who is an expert in diagramming sentences, and he will

    show you the actual diagram. If you post a question there, he will show

    you the correct diagram. Most (98%?) of our schools no longer

    teach Reed-Kellogg (and many people now ridicule it as a waste of time),

    but some ESL students really appreciate learning it.


    Best wishes.


    James


    P.S. Yes, your student might tell you that "everybody" says "Who do

    you live with?" And then you can tell him/her that in real life, most

    people do not use "whom" in many instances. (Besides, it takes a lot

    of lung power to pronounce "whom" at the beginning of a sentence!!!)

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    #9

    Re: Are you she?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****



    Hello, Donnach:

    (1) Sorry that my post was not clear: Yes, you are 100% correct. In

    using the old-fashioned Reed-Kellogg diagramming system, you always

    put a question back into "regular" order. That is something that ESL

    students might not realize.



    (2) I have great news for you. This is "Ask a Teacher" forum. There

    are many forums here. One is called the "Diagramming" forum. There is

    a teacher there who is an expert in diagramming sentences, and he will

    show you the actual diagram. If you post a question there, he will show

    you the correct diagram. Most (98%?) of our schools no longer

    teach Reed-Kellogg (and many people now ridicule it as a waste of time),

    but some ESL students really appreciate learning it.
    Glad to know that I didn't just conveniently come up with that rule myself. A few years ago I checked out the book Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences. Great book! Also, I read a short story (essay? article? interview?) once in which the author mentioned that in his childhood bathroom there was a poster of a diagrammed Proust sentence. I remember searching for something similar online and couldn't find anything.

    I intend to hang out more in the diagramming forum. I love that someone will actually diagram out your sentence if you have a question. Fabulous!


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    #10

    Re: Are you she?

    Quote Originally Posted by donnach View Post
    Glad to know that I didn't just conveniently come up with that rule myself. A few years ago I checked out the book Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences. Great book! Also, I read a short story (essay? article? interview?) once in which the author mentioned that in his childhood bathroom there was a poster of a diagrammed Proust sentence. I remember searching for something similar online and couldn't find anything.

    I intend to hang out more in the diagramming forum. I love that someone will actually diagram out your sentence if you have a question. Fabulous!
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Donnach:

    (1) Yes, I have the book. It's most helpful. It quotes the poet Gertrude

    Stein, who said: "I really do not know that anything has ever been more

    exciting than diagramming sentences." Well, I agee that she is

    exaggerating a bit!!!

    (2) You realize, of course, that most people think that we must be

    nuts to be interested in Reed-Kellogg. But it has really helped me so

    much because it forces you to account for every single word in a

    sentence.

    (3) This helpline permits members to link to other websites if this

    privilege is not abused. I'm too stupid to know how to link, so all

    I can do is to tell you to google: Sentence Diagrams Eugene R. Moutoux.

    (a) His website has hundreds of diagrams, starting with the most

    elementary. By studying those diagrams, you will develop more confidence

    in your own understanding of English, and this confidence will be

    noticed by your student. His website is awesome!!!


    James

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