“It is I” vs. “It’s Me”: Which One Should You Use?

Hello, it is I. Those are the lyrics, right? Should they be? The phrase it is I is correct for formal writing. It’s me is considered an informal style. Today, most native English speakers use it’s me instead of it is I.

Classic, Formal Usage

Traditionally, the use of I is appropriate when it follows a linking verb like is, was, or were. Linking verbs express a state of being rather than describing an action. They’re usually paired with subject pronouns. Subject pronouns include I, he, she, they, and we. They reference the person performing the action in the sentence.

In writing, it is I sometimes shows ranks or formal relationships. For example in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, John Willoughby says to Mrs. Dashwood, “It is I who may rather expect to be ill—for I am now suffering under a very heavy disappointment!” Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811, a time period where a proper young man was expected to speak formally to an older woman.

Modern, Relaxed Usage

Me is usually an object pronoun. In most cases this means it’s on the receiving end of the action in a sentence. For example, “My sister gave me the book,” where the speaker is the recipient of the giving. The use of me in the phrase it’s me isn’t typical usage of the pronoun, since there is no action to receive.

It’s me is used more often in casual speech. Judy Blume’s book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, uses the informal phrase in the title and throughout the work. In this young adult novel, Margaret deals with the questions and challenges in her life by talking to God. Since Margaret is an 11-year-old girl, she speaks casually: “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. We’re moving today.” She’s talking to someone she trusts and confides in, so there’s no need for formality.

In general, both it is I and it’s me are valid ways of introducing yourself. It’s just that it is I is more formal, and can sound old fashioned to the modern ear. It’s me is more casual and relaxed, and you’re more likely to hear it in present-day conversations

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