I was taught at school that the following expression is not grammatically correct:
Who is there? It's me.
The correct one is:
Who is there? It's I.
Can you let me know which one is accurate?
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As reported from the NOAD:
pronoun [first person singular]
- used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself as the object of a verb or preposition:
Do you understand me?
Wait for me!
used after the verb to be and after than or as:
Hi, it's me.
You have more than me.
informal to or for myself:
I've got me a job.
It's then correct to say it's me.
"It is ME" is not grammatically correct in the academic sense, but is used in spoken English.
"It is I" is grammatically correct in the pure sense, but would never be used in spoken English - or very rarely by people who speak in an ultra-formal dialect.
"It is I" would have been correct in Shakespeare's time, in spoken English, but not now.
This question is related to I can run faster than... In that exchange nohat describes the pronouns being used in the nominative and accusative cases. Modern English speakers have become more comfortable using the accusative case in comparisons even though traditionally comparisons have used the nominative case. It is further noted that "both forms are standard."
Modern English has slurred the distinction between cases, using word order to denote case rather than declension. We still use different words for most personal pronouns (he/him, I/me, we/us), but have lost it for you/you. "I talk to you." "You talk to me."
When asking "Who is there?" it would be correct to answer in the nominative case, "I am here." Likewise, asking "Who is it?" should elicit "It is I" or "I am it."
The war and the battles for It is I as opposed to It is me, have been going on for a long time.
Old English did not use the object me after the verb to be. We said ic sylf hit eom (I self it am – it is myself), and Chaucer (who wrote in early Middle English) frequently writes "it am I", but never "it am me".
However, the Normans spoke a form of French and French is different and was an influence on English. French makes liberal use of the disjunctive form of the pronouns moi, toi, lui, eux, etc. after “to be” and other verbs that in Old English would have taken a nominative complement (I, thou, he, they). These were used in English as me, thee, him and them or as myself, thyself, himself and themselves.
In 1877, Ebenezer Cobham Brewer wrote in the entry on “me” in “Errors of Speech and of Spelling, Volume 1”
‘Me” is used after the verb To be, and after the words than, but, like, and as, with such pertinacity it is at least doubtful whether it is not correct. C’est moi is the French Idiom, not Cest je, and It is me is far more common than It is I.
So again, the French say il est plus riche que moi, -> “more rich than me,” or plus riche que je ne suis, -> “more rich than I am.”
Which is exactly the same as English.
Now it is important at this point to understand that “me” is not the accusative case, but the dative case. (Old English “me”)
Old English Singular. Nom. ic,
This is important as “Give it me!” = “Donnez-le moi! And “Give it to me!” = “Donnez-le moi! The indirect object (dative = me) becomes a prepositional phrase (to me) that is a complement.
These two points relate well to the use of “It is me” that developed in early modern English.
The disjunctive pronoun of French and the dative pronoun of English had a great overlap. They are both capable of being a complement.
It is also useful to look at the pronoun “myself” and consider if “It is me” and “it is myself” are equivalents.
At this point, it is helpful to have a look at the “official” French dictionary, Larousse: (My translation and with less relevant definitions omitted
• In apposition to I or me
• After a preposition,
• after “It is”
• In phrases, “How do you want us to march?” - “Me at the front and them at the rear.”
• as the complement of an imperative – Give it me
• After like and as: You think like me.
You will note the similarities.
Ebenezer Cobham Brewer continues and gives “errors” that everyone would consider normal:
Who shall decide when doctors disagree,
And soundest casuists doubt, like you and me. (Pope, 1688 –1744)
Yet oft in Holy Writ we see
E’en such weak ministers as me
May the oppression break (Sir Walter Scott, 1771 – 1832),
Who’s there? It is me.
You know it was not me who told him.
It is me that has been the ruin of you.
it is me that has brought you to this misery.
It is not me who will be a trouble to you.
It is me, your friend and master, who advises it.
And then adds that he does not object to the following:
You did not suspect it to be me. You did not know it was me.
That picture Is just like me (like to me -> dative).
He likes you better than me (than he likes me).
He likes you better than I (than I like you).
It Is I, be not afraid.
In the intervening 140 years, all of the above examples have become acceptable.
The war for “It is I” is lost. We must move on.
It varies on context.
Who called Jodie? It was he.
Who told you about it? It was I.
Who had the phone conversation? It must have been they.
Who cares? It is we.
An aside: when you knock at a door, and someone from inside asks "Who's there?", Don't answer "Me" or "It's me". Aside from being ungrammatical, it conveys no information (unless the other person knows your voice).
We need to make the distinction between written and spoken English, especially informal spoken English - as between friends. Almost everyone says things like "Me and my brother went to the beach", but you certainly wouldn't say that giving a speech in a public forum.
Here's a good exlanation of the "it's me/I" construction:
"The traditional grammar rule states when a pronoun follows a linking verb, such as "is," the pronoun should be in the subject case. It’s also called the “nominative.”