"It was them who cleaned the classroom."


"It was they who cleaned the classroom?"

  • 1
    Who Killed Cock Robin? Not I, said the sparrow. Not me, said the grammarian. May 18, 2018 at 13:41
  • What's the point?
    – math
    May 18, 2018 at 13:52
  • The point is grammarians tell us we should say Not I, but in practice the vast majority of native speakers tend to ignore that anyway. Unfortunately, the standard nursery rhyme has the sparrow saying it "correctly", so what I wrote isn't strictly correct (if the sparrow had been a normal Anglophonic talking bird today, he's have said Not me!, and it would be the grammarian correcting him to Not I!). May 18, 2018 at 14:41
  • Possible duplicate of "Who wants ice-cream?" — Should I say "(not) I" or "(not) me"? May 18, 2018 at 14:53
  • It was they cleaned the classroom.
    – Nigel J
    May 18, 2018 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


Grammatically speaking, the second one (It is they) is correct. According to Grammar Girl:

... when a pronoun follows a linking verb, such as "is," the pronoun should be in the subject case.

Later on, she elaborates on the subject by saying:

Linking verbs are words like "is," "was," "were," "appear," and "seem," which don't describe an action so much as describe a state of being. When pronouns follow these non-action verbs, you use the subject pronouns such as "I," "she," "he," "they," and "we."

She also gives us a few examples:

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.


"It was them who cleaned the classroom."

Same as: We wouldn't want them to think we were doing anything immoral. He bent over, picked up her clothes and tossed them to her. Why had he hidden them - and why had he decided to reveal them?

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