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In this sentence taken from the movie AI is 'us' the correct form of the pronoun? It certainly sounds better than if it were written with 'we' instead of 'us'. Also, I can sort of see why 'is' is used instead of 'are', and I think this is why 'us' is used rather than 'we', but would be interested in a clear explanation.

All that will be left is us.

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I can't really comment on the correct grammar, but the full quote makes more sense:

"They made us too smart, too quick, and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes all that will be left is us. That's why they hate us."

Us is not really being used as us traditionally but a placeholder for the entire concept of AI because there really isn't another word for it. I believe the grammar is bent for the purpose of emphasis. look at this pattern:

They made us
All that will be left is us
they hate us

it forms a pattern that makes more sense if spoken with dramatic inflection.

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I like the idea of 'us' being used to keep a consistent pattern rather than being grammatically correct. –  mcheema Jan 20 '11 at 14:53
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@mcheema, Well, it's likely both. it could have been phrased "we will be all that is left" or "we are all that will be left" –  Stephen Furlani Jan 20 '11 at 14:58
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We is a nominative pronoun, while us is the objective (accusative) case of we.

In "X is us", X is the subject, and us is the object (hence the objective case). Compare that with "We are X", where we is the subject (hence the nominative case), and X is the object.

On a more general note, see this answer to a related question.

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Thanks for an answer on the actual grammar. I just noticed the pattern. It could also be phrased "We are all that will be left" correct? –  Stephen Furlani Jan 20 '11 at 14:45
    
@Stephen: exactly. –  RegDwigнt Jan 20 '11 at 14:47
    
deleted because of an error –  mcheema Jan 20 '11 at 14:51
    
@regDwight thanks for the link i will check it out. I was interpreting us as being predicative nominative after the linking verb "is" and am not sure whether I am wrong about that. –  mcheema Jan 20 '11 at 14:53
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But does the copula put the following pronoun in the objective case? Question: "Who's at the door?" Answer: A. "It is I." or B. "It is me." I would say A as my response is correct, but in everyday speech I'd say "It's me." I think this is a gray area. But I don't think the copula puts anything in the objective case. –  Robusto Jan 20 '11 at 17:47
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RegDwight starts out right but, I think, gets confused on a special case.

"I", "we", "he", "she", and "they" are used when the person referred to is the subject of the verb, i.e. the one doing the action. "Me", "us", "him", "her", and "them" are used when the person referred to is the object of the verb, i.e. the one being acted on. So, for example: "I threw the ball to him," but "He threw the ball to me." Or "We saw her" but "She saw us". ("It" is used for both subject and object. "You" is used for both subject and object, singular and plural. Very versatile word there.)

But when the verb is a form of "to be", then the object is called a "predicate nominative" and takes the subject form of the pronoun. The idea, I think, is that when we say "is", nothing is being acted on, we are just expressing identity, so the subject and "object" are equivalent. So the correct usage is, for example, "It is I," NOT "It is me." Or, "The chosen person was she," NOT "The chosen person was her." Many people get confused on this because we're used to using the object form after a verb, and forget that "to be" is special.

All that said, in the example you gave, "us" is correct. The verb is "left". The object of that verb is "us". As this is an object, and the verb is not a form of "to be", then it should use the object form. Don't get confused by the "be" in front of "left" -- that's modifying the tense of the verb, not a stand-alone "to be".

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No, no, no. The verb is clearly "is". The subject is the entire clause "all that will be left". You can see this by transposing the complement and the subject. "We are all that will be left" makes sense. "We will be left are all that" does not, nor does any of the other possibilities. –  Peter Shor Nov 2 '11 at 12:59
    
@Peter: Umm, no. In the sentence, "We will be left", if the verb is "will be", then "left" must be the object of the verb. Meaning what? Like, "I will be made into a shoe. And I will not be right; I will be left" ? –  Jay Nov 3 '11 at 5:35
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