Mrs Yifnif

SnakI Survived the Great Vowel Shift

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Mrs Yifnif

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1modalursine
sep 7, 2009, 8:52pm

Our grade school grammar teacher (she was yours too, I believe) insisted that the correct form was
"Knock knock" "Who's There" "It is I"; though I've never heard a native speaker say anything other than "Knock knock" "Who's there?" "Its me", except possibly when Mrs Yifnif was listening with ruler poised.

Assuming that contemporary grammarians agree with Mrs Yifnif, (do they still?) can anyone sort me out with a reasonable and understandable explanation for why that should be so? And can that explanation also survive the objection that in French "Tac tac tac" "Qui est la?" "C'est moi" does the trick, and never "c'est je"* (eeeeeuw!)

Just askin.

2skf
sep 7, 2009, 9:04pm

I'm no grammar expert (in fact I'm working hard on the direct and indirect object idea because I'm trying to figure out in French when to use qui and when to use que) but it does seem like the problem is along those lines:

I am here (subject)
It is me (direct object--right?)

So it depends on if you think the answer to
"Who is there?"
is
"I am here"
or
"It is me"

However, I suppose
"It is I"
is correct but I don't know why.

I'm no help!
Sorry

3pinkozcat
sep 7, 2009, 10:02pm

You are quite right - if the sentence is transposed it becomes clear which is correct. However - common usage is the killer ...

In my day, though, it was ...
"Knock, Knock",
"Who's there?",
"Forn***tion" ,
"Forn***tion who?"
"Forn***tion like this you need a MINTY"

Sorry - my grandmother told me that one. I don't know if you can still buy minties but that was one of their slogans "On an occasion like this you need a minty."

4pinkozcat
sep 7, 2009, 10:17pm

Just a quick postscript here. I think that I would probably have replied "It is pinkozcat.".

Two full stops?? Leads to another question ...

5bjza
sep 7, 2009, 10:22pm

The reason that's commonly given is that grammarians believe that "me" should only be used as a direct object or indirect object. In "It is I," the first person pronoun is being used as a predicate nominative.

This is the same reason that French doesn't use the DO/IO pronoun (e.g., "*Ce m'est"), but uses the disjunctive pronoun instead.

In the English case, "me" sounds more natural to most because in our dialects "I" is restricted to being used as a simple subject and "me" is used in all other cases.

6ambushedbyasnail
sep 7, 2009, 10:51pm

Learned it from German - bin ("to be") takes the nominative case, which is "I", not "me".

My eternal favorite:
-Knock knock
·Who's there?
-Little old lady.
·Little old lady who?
-I didn't know you could yodel!

7krolik
sep 8, 2009, 1:49am

I think it was Mencken who advised that, although "it is I" is gramatically correct, if someone speaks that way, don't open the door.

8MrAndrew
sep 8, 2009, 2:13am

for it could be a little old schoolteacher gripping a ruler.

9msladylib
sep 8, 2009, 2:39am

Oh, haven't we discussed this, or something like it, some weeks ago?

I think it's perfectly acceptable, and probably preferable, to say, "It's me." We've been saying it for centuries, most likely. We don't have Latin grammar in English. It's not even remotely a Romance language, and there is at least one Romance language, French, that doesn't follow the model. They will say, "C'est moi."

"It is I" sounds affected and, in my opinion, is. Likewise, "It is he" or "It is she." For heaven's sake, it's him, and it's her, and also it's us at the door, trying our damnedest to make ourselves clear and comfortable at the same time. So let us in and Mrs. Yifnif be damned.

10erilarlo
sep 8, 2009, 3:52pm

Yes, "it's I" is technically correct, but in English word order has mostly taken over from case anyway, so if it's not in subject position, it "feels" like an object. It's why we also have problems with who/whom. We may put "whom" after a preposition like to or for, but very rarely use it at the beginning of a question even when the objective is in question(yes, that was deliberate) just because sentence-initial position "belongs" so strongly to nominative forms.

Furthermore, "It's I" or "It's me" is not very informative anyway 8-)

11msladylib
Redigeret: sep 8, 2009, 8:05pm

Furthermore, "It's I" or "It's me" is not very informative anyway 8-)

Well, spoken, if it's me, most everyone who knows me knows it's me. They simply recognize my voice. I'm sure this is true for many others. So "It's me" can be quite informative.

:)

12MrAndrew
sep 8, 2009, 8:37pm

who are you?

You're not me, i'm me. If you continue to impersonate me in this fashion, i shall have to charge you with identity theft.

13ambushedbyasnail
sep 8, 2009, 9:20pm

Right now I'm living with my grandmother, and sometimes when I come downstairs but not into her line of vision, she says, "Who's there?"

I invariably respond, "Me!"

But you're right about it not being informative - I always wonder if she's forgotten I'm living there, in which case... who's me?!

14PhaedraB
sep 8, 2009, 9:58pm

I hate when someone calls me and says "It's me." I usually answer that much as I might like to, I can't recognize the voices of all my friends, family and acquaintances on the basis of two syllables.

15msladylib
Redigeret: sep 9, 2009, 12:45am

>14 PhaedraB: True enough. I won't answer "it's me" to anyone who is not well enough acquainted with my voice, which is distinctive enough so that my friends and family would be able to spook me out when I called by answering me by name. (This was long before caller ID!) I could never do crank calls!

"Hello! May I speak to John?"

"Sure, Alice, he's right here."

>12 MrAndrew: Oh, dear. I am not sure I want your identity. I don't know who you are. :)

16erilarlo
sep 9, 2009, 10:20am

Another problem with "it's me" can be people who sound alike 8-) My daughter and both my sisters (and I) all sound the same on the phone.

17mene
sep 15, 2009, 2:09pm

My English teacher said it should be "It is me".
"It is I" was only acceptable in a certain tv series (of which I don't remember the name).