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Referring to a picture, the question is "Who is he?" The answer I got back was "he is me". Is that correct? Shouldn't it be "It is me"?

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The bit about "quality standards" is an automated thing. When a question is very short, for example, it may get that response. See here meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/2227 or here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/92074 – GEdgar Jan 14 '13 at 14:57
If you want to sound ridiculous and persist in the belief that English 'rules' stopped evolving (just) before you went to school, use 'He is I.' (complement with a link-verb, not object, Jon) – Edwin Ashworth Jan 14 '13 at 15:17
It is I, Leclerc! – Mr Lister Jan 14 '13 at 16:06
They have different rules in wartime France. They mongle their grimmer. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 14 '13 at 19:35
@Jon Hanna: Becoming more common? At universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/4225 : Myth: Expressions like "It was me" and "She was taller than him" are incorrect; the correct forms are "It was I" and "She was taller than he." Pullum responds: The forms with nominative pronouns sound ridiculously stuffy today. In present-day English, the copular verb takes accusative pronoun complements and so does "than." My advice would be this: If someone knocks at your door, and you say "Who's there?" and what you hear in response is "It is I," don't let them in. It's no one you want to know. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 14 '13 at 19:41

There seem to me to be two reasonable and idiomatic native-speaker answers to the question "Who is he?"

"He" is me. [This, of course, is written English, and the bold font and quotation marks indicate that when spoken, the word he should be emphasized. It's almost the same as responding to Who's that guy in the white jacket? with "That guy's" me.]

That's me. [A native speaker probably wouldn't say "It is me" or even "It's me" but "That's me".]

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"It [the subject of the portrait] is me" and "He [the person who is the subject of the portrait] is me" are both correct.

Some people may favour the latter, because it's already established that the portrait is of a person (and perhaps, that it is of a male person).

Some may favour the former because in most contexts "he" and "me" would be mutually exclusive, which makes it sound a bit strange.

Sounding strange doesn't make something wrong. It's strange to be talking of the same person with the third and first person in the same clause, because contexts in which that makes sense are very rare, and in most exceptions the neuter third person ("it") are more appropriate for some other reason. This is though a case where it would make sense.

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The it used in response to "Who is he?" would have to be the delexical one (unless the picture showed a very blurred dog, say). Certainly, in "It's me," it is the delexical variant: French ce, not French il, as in c'est moi not il est moi. Compare "It's us" and contrast "We [the subject of the portrait] ... – Edwin Ashworth Jan 14 '13 at 15:31
@EdwinAshworth Yes, that just occurred to me, and it would cover a lot of other "it is me" and "it is I" cases. – Jon Hanna Jan 14 '13 at 15:35
+1 for being technically and popularly correct at once. – Kris Jan 14 '13 at 15:43

It's fine, just an attempt at a tiny bit of humor. In a similar vein you may have run across statements such as "... the cavalry is us" (Mystery Men), "We have met the enemy and he is us" (Pogo), etc. It's a wry comment on the irony of the unexpected.

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The Pogo quote is an allusion to Admiral O. H. Perry's victorious battle report during the War of 1812: We have met the enemy and they are ours – Andrew Lazarus Jan 15 '13 at 1:16

"I am he" is also grammatically correct, although its emphasis is slightly different.

"I am looking for Andrew Lazarus."
"I am he."

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