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When I arrived for a scheduled meeting, I was asked if I was Mr. Smith. I replied, "That would be I." It sorta sounds OK, if not awkward, just more formal. Would "that is me" or "that is I" both be acceptable?

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    Hello, SF. I'm relieved to see that the only Google Ngram results I've found for that would be I are of the form 'that would be i.____.....ii.____' etc. It's awful and should be avoided like the plague. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 25 '19 at 18:46
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    I is only used in contractions with auxiliaries (I'm, I'd, I've, I'll), and when it is immediately before a verb that it is the subject of. Or when it's immediately after an auxiliary that it is the subject of, in cases of subject-auxiliary inversion. Any other use, especially after the main verb, requires me, which is the default shape of the pronoun. Similar remarks apply to we/us, they/them, he/him, and she/her. – John Lawler Jul 25 '19 at 19:27
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    @JohnLawler That seems very wanting. “There but for the grace of God go *me” is plain gibberish, and as evidenced in the question sumelic links to, there is considerable variation in statements of the type “it is I/me” and “this is she/her”. Subject forms are also increasingly (though still jarringly to me) used in pronoun coordination regardless of syntactic role (“she saw he and I”, etc.). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 25 '19 at 23:28
  • Me no like... – nnnnnn Jul 25 '19 at 23:57
  • @Janus: There but for the grace of god go I (a) is archaic English, (b) is a fixed phrase, and (c) has a subject I inverted with a verb it agrees with, though without benefit of auxiliary. That's the way the rule used to be, but we use not auxiliaries in the same ways now. Modern English would be There I go, but for the grace of god. – John Lawler Jul 26 '19 at 2:09
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Most people would say "That's me" or "That would be me".

"That's I" and "That would be I" are following a rule that somebody made up a couple of hundred years ago, and fooled everybody into thinking was English. So yes, they are grammatical according to the grammar that everybody was taught when people were taught grammar. But hardly anybody says them.

  • Come on, with your reputation you can give us a bit more than that. Surely this is a duplicate of a serious question. When did “it’s me” drive out “it’s I”, and should we consider it a valid equivalent to “c’est moi” in French? A genuine question from a position of ignorance. – David Jul 25 '19 at 18:53
  • What rule makes this grammatical? "That" is clearly the subject, making the person the object. The correct pronoun for first person object is "me". What would make it different from that? – DJClayworth Jul 25 '19 at 20:49
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    @David: The earliest instance the OED has of predicative me is 1592, but I find it hard to believe that it was new then. Shakespeare used both me and I in that context. French is not comparable, because moi is different from both je and me. – Colin Fine Jul 25 '19 at 22:33
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    @DJClayworth: that is not the usual analysis. In other languages where nominal declension is salient in the language, the copula does not take an accusative. Emond's analysis (Grammatically Deviant Prestige Constructions) is that case is so vestigial in English that the difference between I and me is purely syntactic: "The subject pronouns I, we, he, she, and they are used as a noun phrase (NP) if and only if the phrase is an immediate constituent of a sentence (S) which contains an inflected verbal element." – Colin Fine Jul 25 '19 at 22:38
  • Sometimes a copula can take—well, something that isn't the nominative. If you ask "Who is it?" to a Spaniard they might well answer ¡Soy yo! "I am!" (inverted) with the expected nominative pronoun governing the corresponding inflection of be, but do that same thing to a Frenchman and you might get a curiously English-like C’est moi! "It's me!" with a tonic pronoun like you’d use for the object of a preposition, which isn't the same as the nominative pronoun—nor the dative/accusative clitics either. Different languages are different. – tchrist Jul 26 '19 at 0:47

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