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Garga

Grammar Question: I vs Me

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This is _____ you’re talking to.

A.  I

B.  Me

My son has a grammar teacher this year and I disagree with the answer she is giving for this little quiz. 

She says the answer is I.  “This is I you’re talking to.” She’s saying this because when there is a linking verb, you use the nominative pronouns.  Like when someone calls on the phone, “Is this Sara?”  “This is she.”  OR:  “Is this you, Bill?”  “Yes. This is I.”  

I say the answer is me.  “This is me you’re talking to.”  My reasoning? Because the “me” is the object of the preposition “to”  You’re talking to (me).  I think that the entire phrase “me you’re talking to” is what is being linked with the is.  Not just the single word “I” or “me.”  

Since I think the “me” is the object of “to”, then the objective case “me” should be used. 

But I’m getting myself all confused and doubting myself.

Who is correct? 

 

Edited by Garga

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10 minutes ago, Garga said:

This is _____ you’re talking to.

A.  I

B.  Me

My son has a grammar teacher this year and I disagree with the answer she is giving for this little quiz. 

She says the answer is I.  “This is I you’re talking to.” She’s saying this because when there is a linking verb, you use the nominative pronouns.  Like when someone calls on the phone, “Is this Sara?”  “This is she.”  OR:  “Is this you, Bill?”  “Yes. This is I.”  

I say the answer is me.  “This is me you’re talking to.”  My reasoning? Because the “me” is the object of the preposition “to”  You’re talking to (me).  I think that the entire phrase “me you’re talking to” is what is being linked with the is.  Not just the single word “I” or “me.”  

Since I think the “me” is the object of “to”, then the objective case “me” should be used. 

But I’m getting myself all confused and doubting myself.

Who is correct? 

 

She's correct as far as the Sara and Bill examples.

Not sure on your second one. Of course, we all know we shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition; perhaps that's why we're confused, as the sentence in question is grammatically incorrect. I might agree with you.

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3 minutes ago, Ellie said:

She's correct as far as the Sara and Bill examples.

Not sure on your second one. Of course, we all know we shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition; perhaps that's why we're confused, as the sentence in question is grammatically incorrect. I might agree with you.

Hmmm... 

So to correct the preposition error:

This is _____ to whom you’re talking.  

This is I to whom you’re talking.
This is me to whom you’re talking.  

So....maybe she’s right after all!!  

Edited by Garga
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I am not a grammar expert, but I think you are correct.

I think in the phasing being asked about, I would say "This is her you're talking to."  I would not say "This is she you're talking to."

The whole sentence feels awkward though.

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5 hours ago, Ellie said:

Of course, we all know we shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition; perhaps that's why we're confused, as the sentence in question is grammatically incorrect. I might agree with you.


But is that really true? I've seen many places that say that's an incorrect rule. Here is one.

I think I agree with the OP's position. However, I am in no way, shape, or form an expert on grammar. Or maybe the answer is that either way is acceptable. 

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I am not a grammar expert, but because I do not think anyone would ever say that sentence, the whole premise is invalid. You are speaking to me. You are speaking to AB. It is AB to whom you are speaking.

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I feel like this kind of question is the reason some people hate grammar :P. It doesn't matter what the answer is, because this is an awful sentence that should never appear in any of your writing! 

Also, I agree that the preposition rule is too rigid. 

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in my opinion, the writer should reword the stinkin' statement.  it is awkward and if the whole point of the discussion is simply to dissect it, then that's just snooty.  I can stay with a grammar question with the best of them when there is a point other than to be a grammar snob.  :-)  "You are talking to me."  (Which sort of also answers the question.)

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Interesting.  Is it even proper to say "it is" when the thing that follows is basically a prepositional phrase?  Maybe so, but I must admit I'm not sure how to parse that.

"It's you I want to spend my life with."  How is this parsed?

"It's my mom they're talking about."

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1 hour ago, SKL said:

Interesting.  Is it even proper to say "it is" when the thing that follows is basically a prepositional phrase?  Maybe so, but I must admit I'm not sure how to parse that.

"It's you I want to spend my life with."  How is this parsed?

"It's my mom they're talking about."

So much going on here.  For one thing, there are two clauses in each of those sentences.  In other languages, there would need to be a relative pronoun to separate the clauses; in English it's 'understood'.   It is you (that) I want to spend my life with.  It is my mom (whom) they are talking about.  Each clause has its own subject, and its own verb.  Technically, both should be whom - you use whom if referring back to a person and if the person referenced is the object of the verb, but in everyday speech that sounds wrong (as does "It is I" instead of "It's me" - technically the former is correct, as the teacher says, but literally no one speaks like that in living English unless they're being a pretentious git, and a descriptivist grammarian would argue that that ship has sailed, but technically "to be doesn't take an object" is still the rule, so on an exam, you have to answer the weird-sounding way).  So, yeah, in your first example if you did add the optional relative pronoun, it 'should' be whom, but it sounds weird - but luckily you can just leave it out altogether - that's totally okay in English.

And then there's the whole 'ending the sentence with a preposition'.  That's a holdover from when a bunch of old white guys decided that English grammar should be more like Latin grammar.  But English is Germanic, not Latin, and has phrasal verbs.  Yes, I know they're not taught in virtually any English-native grammar books, but believe me, in ESL books there are chapters.  There are even separable and non-separable phrasal verbs.  Phrasal verbs have things that look like 'prepositions' attached to them, but they actually alter the meaning of the verb and function a bit more like adverbs in that way.  And a preposition is not a preposition if it is not in a pre position to its object, hence it's impossible to end a sentence with a preposition!  A way to 'fix' this is to use a Latin synonym instead, but there's nothing wrong with a nice Germanic phrasal verb.  It does get confusing as to whether a preposition like thing is part of a phrasal verb or a preposition when it does have an object after it (since in English there's only one object form of a pronoun - in other languages there are separate forms for direct object, indirect object and in some a case for object of a preposition, in others prepositions take direct or indirect cases - but either way it's easier to find clarity).  Anyway, all English grammars I've seen will have you label those bits as either adverb or preposition as the context best indicates - if there's an object of any kind, the last bit is labeled a preposition, and anything hanging out in the wind can be labeled an adverb.

Think on this... 

To put  - means to place something somewhere  "I put it on the table"
To put up - means to resist "He put up a fight"; "Put up or shut up"
To put up with - means to tolerate "I just can't put up with him anymore"; "That's something I can't put up with"

In the original example, it's important to remember the object of a preposition is with its preposition, not wandering around in the sentence.

He gave me the ball.
He gave the ball to me.

They mean the exact same thing, but in one 'me' is an indirect object, and in the other it's the object of a preposition.  But the original sentence also has two clauses, and you can't have an object of the second clause hiding in the first clause.  A relative pronoun would make that clearer.    This is I (whom) you are talking to.  The real problem why this sounds so awful is, as I said above, no native English speaker uses nominative case in this kind of sentence, so it sounds all kinds of wrong.  It's kind of a 'gotcha' sentence, because much of grammar can be figured out by a native speaker intuitively by what sounds right, and that doesn't work here... As at least in grammar classes and on tests, the prescriptivist rule stands.

Edited by Matryoshka
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23 minutes ago, SKL said:

What if it was "It's my mom they are discussing"?

Not sure what you're asking - it's the exact same thing.  It is my mom (whom) they are discussing.  Mom is the predicate nominative in the main clause; my is a possessive adjective/pronoun (not object or nominative case). 

Two clauses, each with its own subject and its own verb:

1. It is my mom
2. They are discussing

ETA: that's also a great example of using a Latin verb in order to not end the sentence with the confusing bit of a phrasal verb.  "It's my mom they're talking about" you'll notice means the exact same thing - it's a phrasal verb that means exactly the same thing as the one word verb 'to discuss'; 'about' is not a preposition here.

Edited by Matryoshka
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7 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Not sure what you're asking - it's the exact same thing.  It is my mom (whom) they are discussing.  Mom is the predicate nominative in the main clause; my is a possessive adjective/pronoun (not object or nominative case). 

Two clauses, each with its own subject and its own verb:

1. It is my mom
2. They are discussing

What kind of verb is "discussing" - does it have or need an object ... if so, what is the object....  I guess it is "whom"?

Edited by SKL

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8 minutes ago, SKL said:

What kind of verb is "discussing" - does it have or need an object ... if so, what is the object....

"To discuss" is a transitive action verb, here used in the present progressive "are discussing".  Action verbs may have - but are not required to have objects - they can be 'understood'.  Some are intransitive and can't have objects.  If you were to use the optional relative pronoun (whom), it would function as the object, which is why it would need to be in objective case.

In the OP's original sentence, you could also use "to address" to replace the phrasal verb "to talk to".

Edited by Matryoshka
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Can't you just call this an idiom? We say "Hey girl, come on, it's me you're talking to! I know exactly what you mean." Like "to boldly go where no man has gone before..." It's not technically correct but it's an idiom people recognize in our language. We want to raise kids who can communicate well and professionally; we don't want to raise pedantic kids. My kid should be able to write beautifully and still say, "You talkin to me?" I don't want him to say "To whom are you speaking?"

 

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36 minutes ago, Emily ZL said:

Can't you just call this an idiom? We say "Hey girl, come on, it's me you're talking to! I know exactly what you mean." Like "to boldly go where no man has gone before..." It's not technically correct but it's an idiom people recognize in our language. We want to raise kids who can communicate well and professionally; we don't want to raise pedantic kids. My kid should be able to write beautifully and still say, "You talkin to me?" I don't want him to say "To whom are you speaking?"

Actually,  there is absolutely no reason not to split an infinitive either. That's yet another of the "old white guys who thought English should follow Latin grammar rules." You can't split an infinitive in Latin, therefore it is also forbidden in English, went their 'logic'. 

Well, the reason you can't split infinitives in Latin is because they are only one word. In English, yes I know they say to 'treat infinitives as if they were one word' - those old guys are where that came from. But we naturally say things like 'to boldly go' *all.the.time*. 'To go boldly' in that famous phrase would sound kinda flat in comparison,  no? English is not Latin. Avoid doing that if you know you have a teacher that thinks this is a legit rule, or on standardized tests - but it's how we all speak English, and like the 'preposition' rule, trying to avoid this natural English speech pattern can make writing sound stilted and artificial. Guess we should all be glad the old guys didn't try to resurrect case endings...

Edited by Matryoshka
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On 11/19/2019 at 4:47 AM, Garga said:

This is _____ you’re talking to.

A.  I

B.  Me

My son has a grammar teacher this year and I disagree with the answer she is giving for this little quiz. 

She says the answer is I.  “This is I you’re talking to.” She’s saying this because when there is a linking verb, you use the nominative pronouns.  Like when someone calls on the phone, “Is this Sara?”  “This is she.”  OR:  “Is this you, Bill?”  “Yes. This is I.”  

I say the answer is me.  “This is me you’re talking to.”  My reasoning? Because the “me” is the object of the preposition “to”  You’re talking to (me).  I think that the entire phrase “me you’re talking to” is what is being linked with the is.  Not just the single word “I” or “me.”  

Since I think the “me” is the object of “to”, then the objective case “me” should be used. 

But I’m getting myself all confused and doubting myself.

Who is correct? 

 

Yes me because you are receiving the talking not doing it.  I think.  Turn it around. You wouldn’t say “you are talking to I”.  You’d say “you are talking to me”.

Edited by Ausmumof3

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Thank you Matryoshka for the lovely exposition of the Germanic foundations of English grammar. The whole "trying to impose Latin grammar on English" thing drives me crazy.

I see no sense in any approach to grammar other than a descriptivist one so to the OP's question I would definitely go with "me" because that is what speakers of English actually say. Nobody, but nobody, who has learned English by listening and speaking rather than from the kind of grammar book that insists on things like no split infinitives and no prepositions at the end of a sentence would even consider saying "this is I you are talking to". "This is me you are talking to" is a colloquial phrase in actual use by real, live speakers of the living language we call English.

Ergo it is grammatical, because the way native speakers speak their own language cannot be ungrammatical; that's not a thing.

Suitable for formal writing may be a different question, but I can't think of a reason it would come up in formal writing except as a quote.

Edited by maize
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You are correct; others, above, have given good explanations as to why. 

The ‘do not end a sentence with a preposition’ is an oversimplification of the rule which is in place to keep away the basic error of not completing a prepositional phrase at the end of a sentence.  For example, perhaps “Max is who I went with.” is a bit casual, but it is a grammatically proper complete sentence.  One should not write, “I went for a walk up the hill with.”, as a complete sentence because it leaves the reader hanging by not completing the prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence. 

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At the risk of bouncing the rubble, the hoary "copulative verbs require pronouns in the subjective case" rule seems defeated by the fact that if a grammatical rule has to be consciously acquired by all native speakers of a language, there is no sense in which it is a "rule." 

(I did enjoy 3rd grade grammar class, listening to our Language Arts teacher struggling not to use our regional dialect's second person plural form throughout the week in which we were being taught that it was Ungrammatical, Dang It! What a relief for everyone when that week was over.)

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