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If I am asked, who is going to the wedding? can I just say "I"?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, tchrist, choster, Matt E. Эллен, MrHen Apr 7 '14 at 14:37

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  • 3
    Technically probably yes, but in reality "I am" would be more normal – mgb Apr 6 '14 at 16:31

That depends entirely on the context and whom you’re talking to.

I vs. me in general

The only place where I can be used without any fear of it being controversal to anyone at all is as the direct subject of a verb. Here, the ‘oblique’ form me is more or less universally impossible (except when mimicking baby talk):

I like coffee. (*Me like coffee.)
I am from Mars. (*Me am from Mars.)
I was beaten by a guy from Uranus. (*Me was beaten up by a guy from Uranus.)

The only place where using I is almost one hundred per cent sure to be controversial to nearly everyone is as a simple, uncoordinated object (to a verb or a preposition). Here, the ‘subject’ form I is all but universally impossible (even when mimicking baby talk):

That Uranian bugger pounded me with his pink fist. (*That Uranian bugger pounded I with his pink fist.)
He nearly beat the life out of me. (*He nearly beat the life out of I.)

In all other cases, you are bound to find prescriptivists who will only accept one or the other, descriptivists and milder prescriptivists who will accept both (one as being traditionally correct, the other as being more common in speech, usually), and scores of people who don’t know anything about grammar except what their elementary school English teacher taught them (often incorrectly) about when to use I and me. Which one this last one will prefer depends on how strongly they feel about their own language, and how much they’ve been influenced by the aforementioned English teacher.

I vs. me in your specific case

In your specific case, the pronoun is used as a kind of interjection: it is not part of any syntactic sentence. It’s on its own.

Historically, this did not matter so much, since it would be the subject if a sentence were created, and therefore the nominative form I would be used. This is how it still works in German and Swedish, too.

Since English no longer really has that true distinction between a nominative case and accusative/oblique case of the pronoun (or anything else), however, things have changed.

One of the cases where me has taken over from I almost everywhere is when used as a disjunctive or standalone word that’s not a part of a sentence. I is vanishingly rare in this use nowadays (though there are still old-fashioned prescriptivists out there who claim it as the only correct form).

Simply put:

— Who’s coming to the wedding?
— I!

– is much more likely to raise eyebrows, sound archaic and strange, and make a lot of regular speakers of English think you don’t know how to speak the language properly. Conversely,

— Who’s coming to the wedding?
— Me!

– is more likely to make the odd prescriptivist grammarian frown and mutter under his breath, but it will fly by completely unnoticed, uncommented upon, and perfectly natural to the vast majority of native speakers.

A safer alternative, which will cause no raised eyebrows anywhere and actually sounds more natural and idiomatic to me, is (as mgb writes in his comment):

— Who’s coming to the wedding?
— I am!

  • It’s even more obvious when the answer is in the plural: Us! – tchrist Apr 6 '14 at 18:04

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