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It Is I or Me?

Grammarians formerly recommended that the complement of the verb to be, when it
is expressed by a pronoun, should be in the nominative case. Today the use of the nominative
form is considered extremely formal and over-correct. We usually use the objective form.

It is me. (Rare: It is I.)

It was him.

In English, the nominative case is the case of a pronoun used as the subject of a finite verb (as I
in 7 wrote the letter) or as a predicate nominative (as we in It is we who have made the mistake).
The nominative case stands in contrast to the objective case.

personal pronouns after forms of be Traditional grammar requires the nominative form of the
pronoun following the verb be: It is I [not me}-, That must be they [not them], and so forth.
Nearly everyone finds this rule difficult to follow. Even if everyone could follow it, in informal
contexts the nominative pronoun often sounds pompous and even ridiculous, especially when the
verb is contracted. Would anyone ever say It's we?. But constructions like It is me have been
condemned in the classroom and in writing handbooks for so long that there seems little
likelihood that they will ever be entirely acceptable in formal writing.

The traditional rule creates additional problems when the pronoun following be also functions as
the object of a verb or preposition in a relative clause, as in It is not (them/they) that we have in
mind when we talk about "crime in the streets" nowadays where the plural pronoun serves as
both the predicate of is and the object of have. In our 1988 survey, 67 percent of the Usage Panel
preferred the nominative they in this example, 33 percent preferred the objective them, and 10
percent accepted both versions.

In fact, it seems an NP in English is only nominative when there is a good reason to be, i.e. when
it is the subject of a finite verb. When it isnt, it occurs in its object form. For instance, the
answer to Who wants a beer? is me, not I, and the emphatic construction is Me, Im thirsty, not
*I, Im thirsty (which is actually what it would be in a close relative to English like Swedish or
Dutch).

The nominative case forms are used as subject or predicative; when used as predicatives both
nominative and objective case forms are possible: At last he lost his way; It was he; It is him. It
keeps true also for comparative constructions: She did it better than he (him).

The pronoun it can perform functions varying so greatly that three statuses of this word should
be differentiated. They are the personal pronoun it, the impersonal pronoun it, and the
demonstrative pronoun it.

The personal pronoun it refers to non-persons, that is, to animals, things and abstract notions.
Besides its anaphoric use, it is also used with demonstrative force when preceding the words it
points to:

Its my husband.

Its Mary.

It was a red rose.

When it refers to the predicative (or any part in this position) it selves as means of producing
emphasis: the word in the predicative position becomes prominent and therefore becomes the
information focus of the sentence