Buck's English: Is it 'I,' or is it 'me'?

Buck’s English
By Gene Owens Modified: May 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm •  Published: May 4, 2014
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“‘It’s I’ or ‘it’s me’?” asked James Worrell, of Oklahoma City.

Good question, James.

If you were to ask Miss Prunella Pincenez, Buck’s eighth-grade English teacher, she would tell you “It is I,” in a heartbeat.

Yet, respected English usage authorities will tell you that “it is me” is perfectly acceptable. Queen Elizabeth II, presumably an authority on the Queen’s English, has used “It’s me.” So did Sir Winston Churchill, who was credited with marshaling the English language and sending it off to war.

If you’re a stickler for formal rules, Miss Prunella is correct. “Is” is part of the verb “to be,” which is a copulative verb (the prim lady prefers to say “linking verb”). Traditional grammarians will tell you that “I” is a predicate nominative, the same person indicated by the subject “it.” As a nominative, the pronoun has to be in the nominative case — which means “I.”

But many usage authorities beg to differ.

As the Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage notes, “The accepted colloquial idiom favors ‘it’s me.’”

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