Friday, January 30, 2004

Reader Persnicketiness

I received the following e-mail message this morning (referring to my entry on R. M. Hare):

"Later, when I saw a picture of Hare, I realized it was him." HE! Will Nehs, Oconomowoc, WI

Thanks for writing, Will. I'm not a perfect writer (nobody is), but in this case I stand my ground. Here is Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern American Usage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 388-9:

it is I; it is me. Generally, of course, the nominative pronoun (here I) is the complement of a linking verb (this is she) (it was he). But it is me and it's me are fully acceptable, especially in informal contexts: "both forms, 'It is I' and 'It is me,' are correct--one by virtue of grammatical rule, the other by virtue of common educated usage." Norman Lewis, Better English 186-87 (rev. ed. 1961). And, of course, those with even a smattering of French know that It's me answers nicely to C'est moi. Good writers have long found the English equivalent serviceable. . . . Similar problems arise in the third person, as in it is him.

The thing stays! Bryan Garner is my authority on such matters.

Postscript: I need some coffee. I had "persnicketyness" instead of "persnicketiness" in my title. The Oxford English Dictionary (2d ed.) set me straight.

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