8

What is the most appropriate answer (American way)?

Yes, John speaking.
Yes, it is him.
Yes, it is he.
Yes.
Yes, speaking.

I need to answer calls when interviewers/hiring managers call.

  • 13
    "No, this is Jeff." – JeffSahol Jan 29 '12 at 2:54
  • 6
    "No, this is John". ;) – Guffa Jan 29 '12 at 6:30
  • 4
    "Who wants to know?" – mplungjan Jan 29 '12 at 7:03
  • 2
    "Yeah" would be more the American way, wouldn't it? :) – bitmask Jan 29 '12 at 20:43
  • You can also avoid this by immediately identifying yourself upon picking up the phone: "John speaking." – Muhd Aug 14 '12 at 2:10
14

I would avoid “it is him” and “it is he” if you are trying to stick to idiomatic American English. They are not grammatically wrong, but you would not normally hear someone speak of themselves this way on the telephone.

Your other choices are good ones. Another is: “This is John” (or, “Yes, this is John”).

  • 1
    'Yes, speaking' is used by Americans? – Nemo Jan 29 '12 at 2:15
  • 9
    This American does on occasion. "Speaking" or "Yes, speaking". – MetaEd Jan 29 '12 at 2:22
  • 2
    Canadians, too. – Karl Knechtel Jan 29 '12 at 13:31
  • 1
    "Speaking" is usually used to respond to "Can I speak to <name>?" – Polynomial Jan 29 '12 at 18:27
  • I'm not voting this up because it isn't what I personally do (see Fraser's answer), but it is probably good advice. Whenever I say that, there's usually an audible pause while the other person tries to parse my answer. – T.E.D. Aug 14 '12 at 19:00
8

The technically correct answer is "This is he". This is because the verb "to be" is mostly used in a special form called the copula, or less precisely "linking verb." With copulative verbs no action is indicated, rather a state of being is indicated, and so the second substantive, called the predicate, doesn't take the objective case. Which is to say, both take the nominative form, the second being called the nominative predicate.

I think it is a curious rule in English, but it seems to be common in other languages too. However, "this is him" is very common too. Some pedants might bristle at it, and your hiring manager might be one such pedant. On the flip side "this is he" has a slightly hyper correct, pretentious tone to it, and that might tick off your hiring manager too. Of course your hiring manager might be a reasonable person and not care one whit.

I suppose it is easiest to avoid the problem by simply answering, "Yes, this is John."

  • +1 for "this is he". This is what I've usually heard as a polite, formal, way to answer a question like "Is this John?" It also avoids confusion as much as possible. – Tim S. Nov 16 '14 at 22:26
  • 1
    -1 for 'technically correct'. Geoff Pullum has the best advice on how to deal with people giving the 'technically correct' "It is I." – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '18 at 9:35
6

Yes, it is him/he doesn't sound like a good way of talking about oneself, I'd drop that one immediately.

Yes sounds too short and impolite.

Yes, John speaking and yes, speaking both sound perfectly fine. I'd stick to those!

3

Since you are looking for an answer to "Is this John?", this implies that you must have initially answered the phone with "Hello". This is indeed the normal default telephone greeting in the US.

I'd suggest that if you're expecting an important call that's directed to you, that you simply answer the phone with "John Smith" or "This is John".

I.e., instead of:

Ring...
"Hello?"
"Is this John?"
"Yes, this is him, er, he, er, I'm John."

You could just have:

Ring...
"John Smith!"
"Hello, John, I'd like to offer you a prestigious, highly paid sinecure!"

It's not out of the ordinary at all, in fact it's commonly used in business. It answers the implied question immediately, leaving little room for confusion or awkwardness.

  • 1
    You're right. I answer all phones with "Kate Gregory" and most of the time that spares any asking who I am. However a nontrivial number of strangers (typically those who want to sell me something) completely ignore what I just said and ask for me. Not even "is this Kate" but "May I speak to Kate Gregory please". It's a little offputting. – Kate Gregory Aug 14 '12 at 12:31
2

It is would be quite unusual. Rather,

[Yes], this is he.

[Yes], this is John.

[Yes], [John] speaking.

  • I agree. I answer the phone, "Yes, this is she." It doesn't seem pretentious or get a bad response. (I'm American.) – Julia Jan 30 '12 at 2:21
1

I would use: Yes, this is John speaking.

1

"Yes," or "Yes, speaking" both do nicely. There might be particular conventions depending on the country you're in, but to my Canadian ear, both sound fine to me.

0

I would tend to answer "That's me". Probably grammatically completely wrong but idiomatic here in Scotland. The other answer I often hear is "Speaking".

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