Ask the Editor
Archive
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
It Is I or It Is Me? Subject and Object Pronouns after Copular Verbs
Friday September 14th 2018
Question
Which is correct, "The group members are Peter, Tom, and me" or "The group members are Peter, Tom, and I"? — Mel, Canada
Answer

The better choice is b) The group members are Peter, Tom, and I. It looks like "Peter, Tom, and I/me" is the object of the verb "are," and normally you would use "me" in object position. However, the verb "be" behaves differently than other verbs. When the verb is "to be" the rule is that the object is renaming the subject, and so the subject pronoun is used. 

 

With a different verb you would use "me" as in the examples below.

  • The group nominated Peter, Tom, and me.
  • The leaders chose Peter, Tom, and me.
  • The committee selected Peter, Tom, and me as the group members.

 

But the verb "be" acts like an equal sign, stating that the object is the same person or thing as the subject. In fact, the subject and object are interchangeable in these types of sentences. You can see this in the examples below.

  • The group members are Peter, Tom, and I. [the group members = Peter, Tom, and I] [Peter, Tom, and I are the group members.]
  • The callers were Peter, Tom, and I. [the callers = Peter, Tom, and I] [Peter, Tom, and I were the callers.]

 

This is the rule taught by English teachers, and it should be followed in formal and academic writing. However, many native English speakers use "me" after the verb "be" and it sounds very natural.

  • It was me on the phone. [I was the one on the phone.]
  • The cake thieves were Beth and me. [Beth and I were the cake thieves.]
  • The group members are Peter, Tom, and me.

 

 

I hope this helps. For more posts about words, idioms, grammar, and usage, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

 

Don't forget to subscribe to our Word of the Day e-mails!

 

Click here to try one of our vocabulary quizzes before you go! 

 

Archive