The First Year Teacher’s Thoughts on Grammar

One of my best friends, Lisa, is in her first year of teaching both high school and college, with the occasional kindergarten class. She’s started a great blog detailing some of her experiences called First Year Teacher Resources. The other day, she wrote about outdated grammar rules and why she considers them to be that way.

Here’s a selection:

6. “He’s taller than me.” This is something I OVERHEAR all the time, and it’s starting to become a case of the who vs. whom debate. The “grammatically correct” term is “He’s taller than I” or “She’s smarter than I.” However, if someone is on the phone and a person asks, “Who is it?” The correct response would be “It is I”, when it’s really more socially acceptable (and much less haughty) to say, “It’s me.” Another issue of our language evolving, perhaps.

Click here to read the rest of them.

This is one subject on which I’m torn.  I don’t think that people are wrong when they say, “It’s me.”  To put it simply, there just following language as it has evolved.  There is only one time when I think I’ll do so — when I say “This is she” when answering the phone.

How about you?


9 responses to “The First Year Teacher’s Thoughts on Grammar

  1. Alexa Moutevelis

    “He’s taller than me.”

    I always thought if it came at the end of the sentence, it was “me” and if it’s at the beginning it’s “I.” As in “Lisa and I are taller than Kate” and “Kate is shorter than Lisa and me.” Or is this a different rule?

  2. I’m going to pretend that you didn’t just use the word “there” when you meant “they’re”. I’ll pretend that it was a test. Or an April Fools Joke.

  3. @Alexa, I always thought it was “I,” even at the end of a sentence, because the natural word that comes next is “am” (or in your example, “are”: Kate is shorter than Lisa and I are.).

    Does anyone know if there is such an exception? I’m very curious.

  4. I still say “It is I.” But I’m pretentious like that. 😉

  5. I saw a funny word choice error at the gym the other day. They had posted a sign about an upcoming customer appreciation day with offers of free food, free 5-minute massages, and free metabolic consolation. I entertained myself all day with images of the trainers patting people on the back, telling them that everything would be okay and that everyone’s metabolism slowed down eventually.


    You got it, Mac. I kind of expected you guys to be screaming and finger-pointing in the comments.

  7. “It is I!” How can that be right? If “I” is the subject, the correct form of “to be” is “am”. If “I” is not the subject, then it should be “me”!
    For example, in Italian one says, “Sono io”, i.e. the first person singular form of “to be” followed by the first person singular subject pronoun.
    In French one says, “c’est moi,” i.e. third person singular demonstrative pronoun followed by third person singular form of “to be” followed by the first person singular object pronoun.
    If “It is I” is correct in English, it’s just because of usage over time, not some abstract rule.
    Which suggests that prescriptive grammar just prescribes the descriptive grammar of an arbitrarily chosen state of a language.

  8. When I was in grammar school (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) we were told that ending with “me” was wrong. I remember the lesson being that you could say, “She is taller than I am” but you couldn’t say “She is taller than me is.” It was a strange school.

    The “it’s me” answer is a real bug for me. It doesn’t identify the person speaking and when somebody says it to me, generally it’s not helpful.

  9. Laura is right. It has nothing to do with the order of the sentence. It has to do with the subject of the sentence, or the subject of that particular clause, anyway.

    Will brings up a really puzzling point, but maybe Laura has the answer to that one, too. “It is I” who am here, or “It is I” who shot Cock Robin. “I” still denotes the subject, the actor in the sentence. “It is I” is there only for emphasis. Does this make sense?

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