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?

Here is a good explanation about both forms.

  • Yeah you have a valid question. But you could circumvent this whole dilemna, by saying your name : D Who is there? Hazro City... – Arjun J Rao Jan 30 '11 at 10:36
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    When I was little my mother took a pen to a children's book and replaced every instance of "it's me" with "it's I." That didn't stop me from using the former though in conversation. – tankadillo Jan 30 '11 at 18:55

As reported from the NOAD:

me /mi/
pronoun [first person singular]
1. 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.

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    Well, NOAD (and dictionaries in general) report usage, not correctness. You would need to get a ruling from the Supreme Worldwide English Authority to know what is correct. – GEdgar Nov 25 '11 at 17:51
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    There isn't such authority for English, differently from other languages. For French there is the Académie française, and for Italian there is the Accademia della Crusca ("Academy of Chaff"). – apaderno Nov 25 '11 at 19:49
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    Usage determines correctness, both historically and today. – jnm2 Dec 12 '16 at 13:16
  • @towry See this comment from Kosmonaut, who is a linguist. – apaderno Sep 6 '17 at 10:24
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    @jnm2 Whose usage? How much usage? – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '20 at 15:07

"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.

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    I think 'Shakespeare's time' is pushing it a bit. I would probably say late 19th/early 20th century in some circles. – user3444 Jan 30 '11 at 10:47
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    Just to add to tegner's answer, there are two other errors in the examples: - It should be "it's", not "its", as you are using this as an abbreviation for "it is". ("Its" means "belonging to it" or "part of it", etc). - "Me" is not capitalised (unless it's at the start of a sentence). – Steve Melnikoff Jan 30 '11 at 11:58
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    "It's I" is not standard in written English anymore either. – Kosmonaut Jan 31 '11 at 16:34
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    @tegner: Please give evidence that "'it is I' is grammatically correct in the pure sense" and "'it is me' is not grammatically correct in the academic sense" — these two claims are not backed up by usage or convention. – Kosmonaut Feb 1 '11 at 14:29
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    I think "academic" is maybe not a good word to use. The people bandying about the notion that 'It is I' is "correct" are essentially twaddle-mongers, not academics. – Neil Coffey Jun 18 '11 at 14:02

The answer to the question 'Who's there?' is 'It's me.' 'It is I' would normally be heard only when something else follows it, and then only in rather formal contexts, as in 'It is I who have done all the work, so it is I who should get the compensation.'


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."


"It is me," is more common, and correct. However, "It is I who am here," is also correct, and "who am here" can be left off and implied, making "It is I," also correct.

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    Maybe good to note the change of person when using "me" (I think): "It is I who am responsible" but "It is me who is responsible" (the latter with "am" just sounds wrong). – Marc van Leeuwen Jun 12 '14 at 8:44
  • But your examples just show how grammatically incorrect "it is me" is. "I am responsible" is correct, but one would never say "me is responsible". – Dustin G Jul 3 '19 at 3:32

While it is formally correct to say "It's I", while informal or popular usage allows "It's me", it would be incorrect to say "It's him and I" (as in the title of a currently popular song), which mixes objective and nominative cases; it could be either "It's he and I" or "It's him and me".

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    Why is “It’s him and I” wrong? It’s inconsistent, but how do you know inconsistency is wrong? – herisson Jan 4 '18 at 19:43
  • This would make an excellent question. It is most definitely wrong, constituting a faulty parallel, but I'm hard-pressed to cite chapter and verse on it. – user191721 Jul 1 '19 at 13:01
  • 'It's we' is pushing it. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '20 at 15:10

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.

A more thorough explanation

  • Nobody talks like that anymore. "It must have been they" sounds ungrammatical to me. – siride Aug 25 '13 at 16:51
  • @siride - It sounds ungrammatical because people have acquiesced to the usage of the incorrect version, so over time that's what sounds correct. For example, decades ago I started saying something like, "You did good", instead of the correct, "You did well", so as to not to sound too formal, but after a while it becomes natural to say it that way; but "You did good." actually has a different meaning, as in you did something good (for others). – Dustin G Jun 4 '20 at 12:39
  • @DustinG I've never had any confusion on the matter. Context has always made it clear. There's no Platonically correct form of the language. Whatever the current convention is is correct. That's it. That's the end of it. – siride Jun 4 '20 at 17:18
  • @siride - Usually convention changes through ignorance, or expediency, so depending on how recent the change is, whether one wants to intentionally use something or not may depend how ignorant, or hip, they want to appear during the transitional period. "Good" as an adverb is still considered informal. It seems like you stated at the end "That's it. That's the end of it." to avoid the cliché and rather arrogant current use of "Period". (I intentionally use the British usage of quotation marks that do not include the period or comma if it is not part of the quote, as it makes more sense.) – Dustin G Jun 5 '20 at 19:09

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.”

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    "It's me" does convey information because when you say it, you are using your voice, and your voice often identifies you. As such, it's the most minimal way to respond without revealing any other information. – siride Aug 25 '13 at 16:52
  • @siride: One could answer "Guess who!" to make the guessing game obvious. – Marc van Leeuwen Jun 12 '14 at 8:46

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