“Who is at the door?” your mom asks, or your manager questions, “Who is presenting the next project?” “Who is bringing donuts tomorrow?” your co-worker asks as you head toward the door. The answer to all of these questions could be “It’s me” or “It is I.” As a phrase, “It’s me” is in constant use in our culture, but is it correct to say “It’s Me”?
It is acceptable to say “It’s me” in most informal contexts in American English, but, with formal writing, the preference would be to use “It is I” without a contraction. Native speakers use “It is me” or “It’s me” in a variety of informal situations, though most use “It’s me” more in spoken English than in written English.
This article will explore how and when to use “It’s me,” what other options exist, and when not to use “It’s me.” The rules that govern the use of “It’s me” are very fluid. In the sources we’ve listed below, you will find that the phrase can function in a variety of contexts and forms.
Which Is Correct: “It’s Me” or “It’s I”?
If someone is asking, “Who is next?” the grammatically correct answer would be “It is I” to mean that “I am next.”
It’s essential to distinguish between subjective case pronouns like “I” and objective case pronouns like “me.” When “I” is the subject of a sentence’s verb, it is in the subjective or nominative case. In contrast, we would use “me” when the pronoun is the object of a transitive verb or the object of the preposition.
Because “is” is a linking verb and not a transitive verb, we would use subjective case pronouns on both sides of the verb in this sentence. This would give the meaning “I am it,” which correlates to the statement “It is I.”
However, if you spend time with native English speakers, you will quickly learn that few of them follow the subjective/objective pronoun rule.
Even well-trained grammarians have had to accept that casual and informal speech is often not grammatically correct. For this reason, it has become perfectly acceptable to say, “It’s me” instead of “it is I,” regardless of the fact that the sentence demands a subjective case pronoun.
In light of the rules governing formal and informal speech, you should never use “It’s I.” This phrase combines the informality of a contraction (it’s) with the formality of the subjective case pronoun (I).
Instead, you must either use the grammatically correct and formal “It is I” or the casual and less proper “It’s me.” But do not combine the two, using a casual contraction and a formal subject.
What Does “It’s Me” Mean?
“It’s me” is often the answer to a question asking “Who” or “Which.” Its design is to differentiate between the speaker (me) and the questioner. It can also differentiate between the speaker (me) and a group of people.
If someone asks a question and the correct answer would be that you are responsible, you would answer “It’s me” or, more accurately, “It is I.” This is true whether the question is “Who is responsible?” or “Which of you is the one responsible?”
The phrase “It’s me” is actually a composite of three words. The contraction “it’s” works to combine the words “it is.” As such, we use the contraction in less formal speech, such as a casual conversation (source).
When we combine two words by leaving out one or more letters, an apostrophe takes the place of the missing characters. Therefore, “it’s” carries the meaning of “it is,” while we only use the word “its” without an apostrophe as a possessive pronoun.
How Do You Use “It’s Me”?
You can use “It’s me” as a stand-alone sentence without any other modifiers. Because “it’s” is a contraction of the two words “it is,” the word already contains both a subject and a verb.
Complete sentences require both a subject and a predicate, which the contraction “it’s” provides. Incidentally, you cannot use “it’s” as a sentence on its own because contractions do not function in that way.
When a contraction represents the word “is,” the linking verb demands a second named noun or pronoun in the predicate. Therefore, when you add the word “me,” you have a proper sentence, complete with a subject (it), a verb (is), and a direct object (me).
When Can You Use “It’s Me”?
In spoken English, you will use “It’s me” in response to many types of questions. For example, if someone asks you, “Who is doing such and such?” you can answer either “It’s me” or “It is I,” depending on your desire for formal or informal speech.
If you are speaking to an employer or someone you want to impress, use “It is I” to show your understanding of grammar rules. If you are talking to a friend, peer, or someone you do not care about impressing, you can use the more casual “It’s me” to answer such a question.
You will rarely, if ever, use “It’s me” in written English. There just are not many circumstances of a question and answer in the written format. Both formal and informal written questions would tend to receive an answer with a single word, such as “me” or with your actual name.
In What Context Can You Use “It’s Me”?
An unlimited number of ways exist to use the sentence “It’s me.” As we’ve already said, it can be a casual answer when someone asks, “Who is next in line?” or “Who is providing the meal?”
When you are speaking with peers, and in situations where grammar is not the highest priority, you can use “It’s me” to fit in with the natural flow of speech.
You might even find some humorous ways to use the phrase “It’s me.” What if someone asks, “Who is making that annoying sound?” or “Who smells like roses?” These situations, too, would call for the informal answer, “It’s me.”
Depending on whether what you are doing bothers the original speaker, you might have to follow up with an apology or a statement of gratitude.
You can also add additional modifiers to the sentence “It’s me.” For example, you can intensify the meaning by saying, “It’s definitely me.” Or you can qualify your answer by responding, “It’s probably me.” Both are reasonable ways to adjust the meaning of your answer slightly.
Remember, though, that adding a modifier does not make the sentence grammatically correct. It still uses improper grammar, but in a casual or informal setting, you can experiment with adding different words to adjust your meaning.
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “It’s Me”?
Because the phrase is technically incorrect grammar, we would consider “It’s me” more informal. As a result, it will be most appropriate in casual speech (source).
In the sentence “it’s me,” the first word is a contraction of the words “it is.” The verb “is” serves as a linking verb between the subject and the predicate noun.
In sentences with linking verbs, we can replace the verb with an equal sign to check whether we have used the correct pronouns on both sides of the verb. We should also be able to trade the positions of the subject and the predicate noun if we’ve used them correctly.
For example, in the sentence “He is a student,” we could say “he equals a student,” and the fact would be true. It sounds strange, but the statement is accurate that he is, indeed, a student.
Again, we could also trade the positions of the sentence pattern and say, “A student is he” without changing the meaning. Yes, it sounds unusual, but trading these positions shows that we have used the linking verb correctly in the context.
Applying the Rules for “It’s Me”
Let’s apply these two rules to the sentence “It’s me.” First, we can check to see whether we could use the word “equals” in place of the verb “is.” Even though it sounds strange, the sentence “it equals me” is still factually correct.
Second, we can trade the positions of the subject and the predicate noun. For example, would you ever say “me is it” or “me am it”? A native speaker instinctively cringes if someone uses “me” in the subject position because, grammatically, the sentence requires a subjective pronoun, “I.”
We could easily trade the positions to say “I am it” without changing the meaning of the original sentence. The various uses of “me” and “I” can be especially difficult for English learners. Some of our articles, such as “You and I or You and Me,” can help clear up the confusion.
These two rules easily show us that “It’s me” is not grammatically correct. “It is I” is a better choice, but many perceive it to be too formal. Inevitably, you will get funny looks if you use grammatically correct speech patterns, but at least you will be correct!
When Not to Use “It’s Me”
As we’ve stated, the sentence “It’s me” is both grammatically incorrect and casual. In many verbal situations, the listener will judge a casual phrase as an aberration and will not judge your grammar knowledge too harshly.
However, there are situations in which you should speak both formally and with proper grammar application. For example, a job interview or a formal speech you must deliver in front of an audience would require the use of “it is I” rather than the more casual “It’s me.”
Be sure to correctly identify your audience before choosing whether to use contractions and other signs of sloppy grammar.
What Can You Use Instead of “It’s Me”?
In spoken English, the best choice is to use proper grammar. For illustration, if someone asks you, “Which person is bringing the food?” you should answer “It is I” or “I am.” Each of these options is preferable to the less accurate “It’s me.”
“It is I” communicates that the “which person” you can replace with the pronoun “it” is equal to yourself, meaning you can replace it with the pronoun “I.” In the second example, “I am” follows a similar sentence pattern to the question someone asked.
When we answer “I am” to the above question, we are allowing the original speaker to fill in the rest of the sentence in his own head, ending up with the understanding that “I am bringing the food” or “I am the person who is bringing the food.”
Using “It’s Me” in a Full Sentence
The best news about the phrase “It’s me” is that it is a full sentence. Because the word “it’s” contains both a subject (the pronoun “it”) and a verb (the linking verb “is”), the phrase “it’s me” can stand alone as a complete sentence.
You cannot use “it’s” as a sentence alone because the linking verb “is” requires a predicate nominative or noun. “Is” serves as an equal sign between the noun named in the predicate and the noun (or pronoun) named in the subject.
In the same way, “It is I,” the more formal and grammatically correct version of this statement, is also a complete sentence. We are not used to hearing a subjective pronoun such as “I” in the position after the verb, but, for many reasons, this is the correct way to answer the question “Who is ___?”
“It’s Me” in Internet Culture
“It me,” as a derivative of “It’s me,” has permeated the online culture. First represented as “Me IRL” or “me in real life,” the idea of “It me” represents the face we want to share with our social media contacts (source).
For the most part, those who use “It me” do not actually intend to portray an honest version of themselves. Instead, they only use the meme or image to show what they wish were real life or what they would love to be able to do.
Someone may use the phrase as satire or humor. The absence of the contraction “it’s” in exchange for the grammatically incorrect “it” is another means of informalizing the concept.
Personal Pronouns and Nominative vs. Objective Case
In English grammar, we distinguish between the subjective case pronouns, which include “I,” “he,” “she,” and “we,” and the objective case pronouns, such as “me,” “him,” “her,” and “us.” “It” and “you” can function as both nominative/subjective and objective pronouns. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
You’ll find that most English speakers are quite careless with nominative vs. objective case pronouns, but mastering the difference will make you seem all the more proficient in English.
Many phrases in spoken English are dependent on the relationship between the speaker and the listener. “It’s me” is just such a phrase. You will be able to use “it’s me” in more casual spoken situations with peers, in which others are not likely to judge your grammatical accuracy harshly.
On the other hand, you now have a set of rules to follow when you really must be grammatically proper. “It is I” is the best option for formal settings, both written and spoken. A native speaker might raise his eyebrows at your proper use of the phrase, but he will not be able to argue with your grammar!