October 20, 2019

Why You Should Say IT WAS I, not IT WAS ME

Why You Should Say IT WAS I, not IT WAS ME

Although most persons say 'It was me.' when speaking, the correct expression is 'It was I.' Where the verb to be is accompanied by a personal pronoun forming the object of a sentence or clause, the personal pronoun must be in its subjective case. Subject personal pronouns include Iheshewe, they. Read more about pronouns here.

It is also important to state that the verb to be (or the BE verb) has eight variants: beamisarewaswerebeing and been. And where any of these variants is accompanied by a personal pronoun forming the object of a sentence or clause, the subjective form of the personal pronoun should be used. It is wrong to use an object pronoun in this regard. Object personal pronouns include mehimherus, and them.

Please, note that you and it are personal pronouns which appear the same in both their subjective and objective forms. Thus they can function as subjects and objects in sentences. Let's look at some examples of the wrong and correct use of personal pronouns in relation to our subject matter.

Wrong Usage
1. This is him (or her).
2. It was me.
3. I am him (or her).
4. The people you saw were us.
5. Those are them.

Correct Usage
1. This is he (or she).
2. It was I.
3. I am he (or she).
4. The people you saw were we.
5. Those are they.

However, this rule has changed. It is not surprising because English, as a language, is dynamic. Most English dictionaries now endorse the use of “It was me” only in an informal setting or context, and the use of “It was I” only in a formal setting or context. Therefore, you should feel free to use them accordingly. 

Informal Usage 
1. This is him (or her).
2. It was me.
3. I am him (or her).
4. The people you saw were us.
5. Those are them.

Formal Usage 
1. This is he (or she).
2. It was I.
3. I am he (or she).
4. The people you saw were we.
5. Those are they.

NOTE: The fact that this rule is often broken in conversation and in an informal setting is no excuse for breaking it in writing unless dialogue is being quoted.

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