Posted by: Jack Henry | November 5, 2020

Editor’s Corner: It Is I, Your Friendly Editor

Good morning, everyone!

I’ve talked to a few people about whether it is correct to say, “It is me” or “It is I.” While writing this email, I took a trip down memory lane. I remember thinking about this years ago while my son and I were watching Captain Vegetable sing, “It is I, Captain Vegetable” on Sesame Street.

A lot of people incorrectly say, “It is me.” In fact, I would guess that more people say “It is me” than say “It is I.” So, what’s the scoop?

While me and I are both pronouns that we use to talk about ourselves, me is an object pronoun and I is a subject pronoun.

Let’s talk first about the object pronouns: me, her, him,and them. Object pronouns receive an action—something happens to them. Look at the following examples:

  • Give the money to me.
  • They awarded her the medal of honor.
  • When are you finally going to tell him the truth?
  • We don’t want the award to go to them.

In all the cases above, it probably seems obvious that you would use the highlighted object pronouns. Try substituting subject pronouns I, she, he,and they (respectively). Intuitively, you know it’s wrong.

Now, here are some examples of correctly used subject pronouns. Unlike object pronouns, which receive an action, subject pronouns perform the action:

  • I want even more money.
  • Do you think she will accept the medal in person?
  • I don’t think he can handle the truth.
  • They left early to watch the final episode of Stranger Things.

Those examples probably seem obvious too. So why does “It is I” seem wrong? It’s simply because of many years of incorrect usage. We’ve been hearing the incorrect phrase so long and so often that it sounds right.

Now, stick with me—there’s an easy way to determine that “It is me” is wrong. If “It is me” were correct, then we’d also be able to turn that around and say, “Me is it,” but that’s definitely not right—we’d say, “I am it.” So, that tells us that we need the subject pronoun I rather than the object pronoun me. Are you still with me?

The same goes for “This is she” vs. “This is her.” Since we would say “She is it” rather than “Her is it,” we know we need to use the subject pronoun she.

I think I’ve beaten this horseradish into a lather. Enjoy the rest of your day, and eat your vegetables!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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