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A: "Cablegram for Mr.Smith"

B: "I am him."

B: "I mean, I am he."

Why the correction? What difference does it make?

Similarly: "I am not her" / "I am not she"?

marked as duplicate by sumelic, Cascabel, tchrist word-choice Apr 10 '17 at 2:10

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  • 1
    "Cablegram for Mr. Smith" is not a phrase used in Modern English. You must be reading British novels from the early 20th century. Many of the characters in these novels talk like upper-class twits, including goofy sentences like "It is I". – John Lawler Apr 9 '17 at 14:40

Him and her are the objective case forms of the pronouns he and she, respectively. The objective case is used nearly exclusively for direct and indirect objects, objects of prepositions, and objective complements. In the sentence I am him, the pronoun is functioning as a predicate nominative, so it must be in the nominative case; hence, it takes its nominative form, he.

  • Now suppose I were a grammar book, this is how I would answer. Can I bother you for a dumbed-down version for people like me who haven't learned these fancy definitions by heart? =) – User1291 Apr 9 '17 at 16:58
  • 1
    Sure! In short, the subject of a sentence, the one performing the action, is in the nominative case, which is the same as its objective case for all nouns. For some pronouns, however, the forms for the two cases are different (in this case, he is nominative and him is objective). Additionally, the "objects" (they're properly called predicate nominatives) of any verbs that deal with the subject's state of being (these are linking verbs; examples include to be, to seem, to look [adjective]) will be in the nominative case as well. – Khuldraeseth na'Barya Apr 10 '17 at 12:26
  • 1
    Looking at the sentence I am him, we see that him is the "object" of a form of to be, am in this situation; therefore, it is a predicate nominative and must take its nominative form he instead of the objective him. – Khuldraeseth na'Barya Apr 10 '17 at 12:26

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