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Which is correct to say: “It's me” or “It's I”?

Tonight I watched a movie (The Gospel of John) in which Jesus said (as quoted from the written Gospel of John), "It is I."

How does this expression differ from "It is me?"

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marked as duplicate by Robusto, kiamlaluno, Mitch, Alenanno, Kosmonaut Jun 18 '11 at 22:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Side note -- I don't know about the New Testament, but in the Torah, when you see something like that, the Hebrew is probably hineini which means "Here I am" or "I am here" -- solves the problem. ;-) –  Martha F. Jun 18 '11 at 17:24
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Disagree with this question being closed as an exact duplicate; the duplicate question linked is more specific (asking for a specific question). This question is more general. –  lindon fox Jun 19 '11 at 1:21
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6 Answers 6

Both expressions mean the same thing.

However, both of these pronouns have different rules of usages. In this case, they are both correct, because in some cases, like this case, they are interchangeable, but there are also instances when one of them can be used, but not the other:

"I" is a first person singular subject pronoun.

"Me" is a first person singular object pronoun.

Usually, there are interchangeable, as in the above example, but the bottom line is, don't use a subject pronoun and an object pronoun together. For example,

He and I = correct

but

He and me = wrong.

In the case of nouns, like "John and I" vs. "John and me", just substitute the appropriate pronoun for "John", and determine whether it is correct or not. For example:

John and I/He and I
John and me/He and me.

So, you would know that "John and me" is an incorrect usage in this case.

Edit: As @MT_Head very kindly pointed out, there are cases when the noun can be replaced by a subject pronoun, and in other cases, by an object pronoun. In each case, substitute the correct pronoun and determine whether or not it is correct.

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He and me would always be incorrect; John and me is only wrong if used as the subject rather than the object of the verb. John and I will be talking about grammar today is correct; so is Thank you for inviting John and me to speak here today. –  MT_Head Jun 18 '11 at 5:35
    
Thanks! Didn't see that! –  Thursagen Jun 18 '11 at 5:51
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This question about English pronoun case after copula (be) is a duplicate of Which is correct to say: "It's me" or "It's I"?, which links to a clear explanation.

Note that many answers on this page (such as Bill and Ham_and_Bacon) describe English pronoun case after conjunction (and), which is not necessarily the same as after copula (be).

To quote from the clear explanation:

The rule for what [Fowler] and others consider technically right is ... that "to be" should link two noun phrases of the same case, whether this be nominative or accusative. ...

Sometimes in English, though, "to be" does seem to have the force of a transitive verb. ... The occurrence of "It's me", etc., is no doubt partly due to this perceived transitive force. ...

The final factor is the traditional use of Latin grammatical concepts to teach English grammar.

To summarize the situation, It is me is the more commonly spoken form, while It is I is commonly written, taught in school, and sometimes spoken.

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There is no difference - I think it is just grammar. You just use them in different places. For example;

leave my wife and me alone.

vs

my wife and I will go.

So I you should use me and I depending on the context:

"Who is the person who I should leave alone?"

"It is me" (who you should leave alone)

vs

"Who is the person who will go?"

"I is I" (who will go)

Another example.

"Who is there?"

"It is I, Severus Snape" (I am Severus Snape)

This (I vs me) is something that native speakers constantly make mistakes with. I would not be surprised if there were mistakes in my own examples.

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I'm pretty sure that "It is me" is wrong. To be is a copular verb and doesn't take an object. –  Neil G Jun 18 '11 at 5:19
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It is I, Leclerc! –  mplungjan Jun 18 '11 at 5:49
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Am I correct in missing the word whom in one of the above examples? –  mplungjan Jun 18 '11 at 5:52
    
Depends which one. –  TimLymington Jun 18 '11 at 12:34
    
@mplugjan Which one? –  lindon fox Jun 18 '11 at 12:47
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In a stage of life where I was more patient with the world, I would have tried to say this more politely. But basically, there is a class of people poorly educated in language/lingusitics but who wish to pretend otherwise that insist, for various spurious, easily falsifiable reasons, that instead of saying "It is me" (which is a natural, grammatical utterance in English), one 'should' say "It is I". The same people probably believe that homeopathic remedies will cure their brain cancer.

Maybe read "Language Myths" ed Bauer/Trudgill to see why it's a load of nonsense...

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A good point, that many should take to heart. The purpose of language is to communicate, and whatever accomplishes that goal is "correct." And language is defined by its use; rules are there to explain, not modify, the use of language. However, in a forum whose purpose is discussing the rules of language (among other things), I still find pleasure in learning the "correct by the books" rules for things like this. Even though I'm unlikely to ever answer the door "It is I!" –  Flimzy Jun 18 '11 at 6:23
    
The thing is, though, that this is a particular case where the "correct by the books" rules are built on particularly faulty logic (though in most cases they are). I think it's impossible to actually "believe" in the reasons for needing to say "It is I" and at the same time have a basic understanding of how languages work. And I am going to posit that "fostering a basic understanding of how languages work" (in order to have a basic understanding of English, if you insist on separating the two notions) is also a reasonable goal for answers in this forum. –  Neil Coffey Jun 18 '11 at 12:12
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Would you then permit "Whom is it?" or "It is whom?" Or do you believe that the inquisitive "whom" doesn't match the pronoun "me"? –  Ben Voigt Jun 18 '11 at 14:12
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I don't think I've ever heard speakers say "Whom is it?" or "It is whom?" and both sound decidedly odd to my ears. (Incidentally, if that's a spurious argument for saying "It is I" is 'correct', then I can also invent a spurious argument for saying that "David married I" is 'correct'...) –  Neil Coffey Jun 18 '11 at 14:33
    
Bodgan -- yeah I know, it's just after so many decades this spurious nonsense really starts to wear one down... –  Neil Coffey Sep 2 '11 at 5:35
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The way it was explained to me when I was a teenager, that finally caused the penny to drop was:

The 'me' or I has to stand alone. If you take the other elements out of the sentence does one or other of the pronouns sound right.

eg.1. "Sally and me went to the movies." does not sound right if you take Sally out of the story. (Me went to the movies.) So, this sentence should be: Sally and I went to the movies.

eg.2. "Benny met Sally and I in the mall." Once again, if you take Sally out the the story, it doesn't sound right. (Benny met I in the mall.) You would more naturally say, "Benny met me in the mall. So the correct way to say this sentence would be: Benny met me and Sally in the mall.

Thirty years later I still have to sometimes mentally make the me or I stand alone before I commit myself to a sentence.

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As do I, constantly. –  MT_Head Jun 18 '11 at 6:03
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Yes, that works well in many situations. But not the "It is me" vs. "It is I" situation. "It is he" vs. "It is him" is just as confusing. Both sound right. So even if I were to say "It is he and I" vs. "It is him and me", all I conclude, based on your rule, is that I can't mix I and him and me and he. –  Flimzy Jun 18 '11 at 6:20
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"It is me" is ungrammatical. Transitive verbs, like speak take a subject and an object. Thus,

You (subject) will speak to me. (object)

The verb to be is not transitive, but copular. It takes a subject and predicate. Thus,

It (subject) is I. (predicate)

Also, it must be

We'll soon find out who (subject) is who (predicate.)

rather than

We'll soon find out who (subject) is whom (object.)


Edit: Please see @krubo's excellent answer below.

Edit: RegDwight is right that “It is I” is very formal for speech, and few people talk like this anymore.

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Does the same hold true in subjunctive mood? "If it were I" wins over "If it were me?" –  Flimzy Jun 18 '11 at 9:50
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-1 for "'It is me' is ungrammatical", and if I could, another -1 for "I think it has to be 'It is I in that picture'". Objective pronouns are the default form in English. This has been discussed over and over and over and over again. –  RegDwigнt Jun 18 '11 at 10:12
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@Ben: "me" is not incorrect. Follow the second and the fourth links I posted, which expressly address linking verbs. –  RegDwigнt Jun 18 '11 at 13:06
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@Reg: The second link does address linking verbs, and reinforces that "I" is correct in formal grammar. The accepted answer on the fourth doesn't address linking verbs in the slightest, it only discusses objects of verbs, and as Neil notes, "to be" does not take an object. The other answers on the fourth question do address this case specially, and correctly note that "I" is correct. I like your references, but they back up Neil's answer, not your claims. –  Ben Voigt Jun 18 '11 at 13:15
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@Ben: the NOAD reference says, "me is used after the verb to be: hi, it's me". And the answer to the second link does not even mention the word "mistake" or anything to that extent, and nohat would certainly never claim that "it is me" is even remotely in the same ballpark as "in there car". Please don't put words in his mouth like that. –  RegDwigнt Jun 18 '11 at 14:25
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