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Should I say “not I” or “not me”?

I got into a good argument with myself when a Lecturer asked:

"Who said that?"

and I replied


Actually, I didn't just want to stop there, but I felt there was no need to continue and that it was correct. However some argued that "Me" was the correct reply.

Since the reply was not a sentence, it was difficult for me to conclude whether I should refer to an objective Me or a subjective I.

So in short, I want to know whether there is any other clear parameters that defines when to use which and how?

  • 4
    Me is the norm, unless it's the subject of a verb that is actually said, and not just implied. If you'd continued with a verb (you note you didn't want to stop there -- that was the rule operating), I would be the correct form. And it's not exactly incorrect here, just not modern English -- sort of like thou or ye. – John Lawler Jul 30 '12 at 16:12
  • It's not a duplicate @Cameron. See it yourself. The question does not address my issue properly. – Chibueze Opata Jul 30 '12 at 16:17
  • @Carlo_R.No, that one is utterly unrelated. – tchrist Jul 30 '12 at 16:22
  • While I agree that that particular question does not address your issue properly, there are questions that do. Indeed, this has been asked, and answered, many times before. It all boils down to what John Lawler said. Have a look at these three answers: one, two, three. – RegDwigнt Jul 30 '12 at 16:49

Either works fine in this case, although me is better. The person who responds with I is actually saying I did but holding back the did. The person who responds with me is simply using the customary emphatic form.

But yes, certainly I is for subject forms and me for object forms. There are just a few situations where what appears to be an object form (but isn’t), are called for, such as “Me, I wouldn’t say it works that way.”

Note that French works the same way in this regard, whereas Spanish does not.

  • I've always been taught that using me in this case is grammatically incorrect (although it is more common). I find it more natural to say I did rather than *me. – American Luke Jul 30 '12 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Luke It really is not “grammatically incorrect”, although you do see grammar-school teachers parroting that tired old view. It isn’t defensible. – tchrist Jul 30 '12 at 16:18
  • *me did is definitely incorrect, so what makes a stand-alone *me in this context right? – American Luke Jul 30 '12 at 16:22
  • @Luke Because nobody is construing there to be an elliptical construct where the answer acts as the subject. Rather, we use the emphatic form of the pronoun when giving a one-word answer or complement: It’s me. It’s him. If somebody asks, “Who’s up first?”, you normally get an emphatic pronoun back in response, because they are emphasizing that person. Nobody would answer that question with a one-word *we. It just isn’t heard. That would have to be us there. – tchrist Jul 30 '12 at 16:26
  • @Luke Think of it this way: if somebody asks Who’s going? and somebody else answers Me, I’m going, no one would dispute that that is perfectly grammatical and normal. If they stop after the first word of the response, there is no reason to change the case of the pronoun from an emphatic form back into a subject form; me is good enough by itself. – tchrist Jul 30 '12 at 16:41

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