|San José State University|
& Tornado Alley
Nominative Pronouns are Wrong
A couple of examples of the use of predicate nominative pronouns are "This is she," or "It is I" rather than "This is her," or "It's me." Such use is presented as good or formal English but it is not English at all. It derives from applying a rule that is valid for Latin in English where it does not apply.
Thus the formal grammarians foisted a rule from Latin on English and convinced people that "This is she" is proper. It is not proper English; instead it is Latinized English. "This is her" is real English and likewise for "It is I" versus "It's me." The proof is obvious from the pronoun they.
Imagine a gathering where someone wants to know if Mr. and Mrs. Smith are there. No English speaker can bear to say, "That is they over by the salad bar" rather than "That's them over by the salad bar." If the use of they as a predicate nominative is wrong then so is the use of I, he and she as predicate nominatives. However after generations of brain-washing and browbeating by the formal grammarian their use now sounds almost right although a bit stilted.
The basis of the use of the predicate nominative is that words connected by forms of the verb to be are not only equal semantically but also grammatically. That might be true for Latin and it does seem to be logical but it is not true for English. Languages obey their own logic. The stilted use of predicate nominative pronouns is not proper English; it is some sort of mongrelized English.
The real abomination is that now often people are substituting I, he, she for me, him her in other places. It seems to be some generalization of the notion that if "It's me" is wrong then in other places where me, or her or him are used and sound right, they must also be wrong. For example, people saying such things as, "They bought dinner for Joe and I" when they would not say, "They bought dinner for I," because it is obviously wrong.
We who love the real, natural English should point out to anyone that uses the stilted predicate nominative pronouns that it is not real English but mongrel English. Languages are spontaneously evolving systems and the attempt to force a rule from Latin on English is having the unintended consequence of inducing people to make gross grammatical errors.
Thus not only are predicate nominative pronouns wrong their advocacy is destroying the integrity of the English language.
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