Wednesday, July 05, 2006

this is also stupid

Continuing with the theme "It's Stupid To Get Uppity About Grammar" -- and believe you me, that's a deeeeeep well -- I offer the following:

Sometimes there are people (even some I know and love) who, in response to "May I speak to Mary, please", think it makes sense to say "This is she." The thinking, I suppose, is that "This is her" -- which I guess we tend to say because we usually find the object form of the pronoun after a verb -- is incorrect since technically we should be using the subject form of the pronoun.
NOTE: if none of the above made sense to you, congratulations. You have paid the right amount of attention to grammar, and God shall smile upon you.
But I digress. My point is that "This is she" really makes no more sense than "This is her." "She" is not the subject of the sentence as if we're saying "She is this" -- we're saying "[The person answering the phone] is [the person you asked for]."
And when we wish to make the point that two people or names or positions or roles or whatever represent the same person, we say things like:
  • That's her.
  • I am actually him.
  • He acted as me.
We don't say:
  • That's she.
  • I am actually he (unless we're utterly pretentious and precious.)
  • He acted as I (ditto).
So I submit there's a general grammar rule (which you may call irregular if it makes you feel better) that after a verb we use the traditional object form of the pronoun. That's it. There, now you have a rule, enabling you to say "Well, okay then..." and go back to your room and dream up other ways to grind the spirit out of young people and make yourself feel informed and superior.

4 Comments:

At Thu Jul 06, 06:11:00 AM PDT, Blogger unca said...

So you're setting up your own ("the people's"?) grammar rules here?

 
At Thu Jul 06, 05:10:00 PM PDT, Anonymous si said...

i have been confused/self-conscious with saying "this is she" or "this is her", so *i* have answered "this is 'si'" when asked the above referenced query (apparently, tho, you're not lovin' this answer either...) :P

here, this is a link to pronouns that i'm sure you will LOVE...

 
At Sun Jul 09, 01:31:00 PM PDT, Anonymous si said...

recently received a call from my mom's caregiver and it reminded me of this post/our discussion about it. the caregiver is from romania; and while only being in the states a short time, speaks english quite well.

however on the phone/leaving a voicemail, she says as introduction of herself, "i am b...." not "this is b....". now this has sounded, well, foreign to me. but in light of our conversation, maybe this is the most descriptive way someone can convey who they are to the listener.

nonetheless, i'm pretty sure this manner of conversing on the phone will not trip off my tongue at all lightly...

 
At Sun Jul 09, 11:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

Thx for mentioning this, si.
That's how you do it in Spanish as well: I am Bryan.
And yet, of course, we think it's "correct" to say "It is I" rather than "It's me."
Why in the world should "It is I" be more correct? If we're saying that some entity "it" is in the act of being me, it should be "It's me." If we're saying that I is the subject of the sentence, then the verb form should be "am", as in "I am".
I say the emperor has no clothes...

 

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