EN: c'est moi qui ai

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by mari06, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. mari06 Senior Member

    "It's me who" me semble incorrect et calqué sur le français. Je dirais plutôt "I'm the one who". Ai-je raison ? Ou est-ce acceptable ? Merci de votre aide.
  2. sebastiano. New Member

    English, Danish
    Non, on peut aussi dire "it's me who".
  3. Donaldos

    Donaldos Senior Member

    French - France
    Je pense que I'm the one who ... reste préférable (du point de vue grammatical notamment).
  4. afbyorb Senior Member

    It's me who .... :cross: incorrect grammar
    It is I who .... :tick:
  5. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    "It is I who have ..." - very formal.
    "I am the one that has ..." - standard.
    "I'm the one who has ..." - standard, informal because of the contraction.
    "It's me who has ..." - colloquial.
  6. tedgale Senior Member

    "I'm the one who has to do the singin'! I'm the one who has to take the raspberries!"
    - Susan Kane, the failed opera singer in Orson Welles' film "Citizen Kane"

    I support afbyorb's endorsement It is I who. Yes, I really do say "It is I who am sick, not you" in normal conversation.

    I like Forero's explanations except I really do not think "it's me who has..." should be considered acceptable English.

    Of course, I accept "It's me", as in: Who is there? It's me.

    But in any more complex sentence, I think standard English should prevail.
  7. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Isn't it odd that It's me who has rather than have" is used? Just part of the colloquialism, I suppose.

    Just for the record, I would also say It is I who have...
  8. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    There is a reason has is used in the colloquial version instead of have.

    The more formal version "It is I who have ..." comes from traditional Latin-based analysis, which says, though the subject with which the verb is agrees is it, that what follows the is is meant to be in nominative case ("predicate nominative" is the traditional term). Then since the who clause, taken to be a relative clause, appears to modify I, the who becomes first person (singular) nominative and the verb should agree.

    But the English language was not based on Latin. Latin-based analysis of English sentences and the prescriptions that go with it were created to help Latin grammar make sense to young students who spoke English natively but needed to learn classical Latin to communicate with the Enlightenment community beyond Great Britain.

    None of the versions I listed is "calqué sur le français". The formal "It is I who have ..." is based on Latin grammar but is not really a calque of Latin either since "It is I/me" in Latin is "Ego sum."

    In Old English, people did not say "It is I" or "It is me" but "Hit æm ic". Divided usage between "It is I" and "It is me" began when the verb ceased to agree with ic/"I". This divided usage continues today.

    Both French and English are noted for what are called "cleft sentences".

    An English "cleft sentence" such as "It is ... that ..." resembles a sentence with a relative clause, but the it is actually a placeholder for the clause that follows, and that clause is really an interrogative clause, similar to, but different from, a relative clause.

    Consider the sentence "I don't know who took the book." Even if you took the book, this sentence does not usually mean "I don't know you." The reason is that "who took the book" here is usually taken as interrogative, referring not to you the person but to the answer to the question "Who took the book?"

    A cleft sentence with an adverbial interrogative works like this:

    How is this done?
    - Only slowly. (How this is done is only slowly.) It is only slowly that this is done.

    Here only slowly, I dare say, is not a good candidate for nominative case. Also note that the interrogative word how becomes that in the cleft sentence.

    Similarly, "It is me ..." cleft sentences can arise as similarly:

    Whom do they trust?
    - Me.
    (Whom they trust is me.) It is me that they trust.

    Who has the key? [Notice the third-person verb.]
    - Me. (Who has the key is me.) It is me that has the key.

    Who was the key given to?
    - Me.
    (Who the key was given to is me.) It is me that the key was given to.

    Here the person answering is not thinking of me as an object or subject but just as the answer to a question, like only slowly in the adverbial case. No attempt is made to have a verb agree with me. Because "who has the key" is interrogative, it takes the third-person singular verb is and can be represented by it. Again the interrogative word becomes that since the referent of the interrogative clause is not "I", the person, but "me", the answer to the question.

    The colloquial version with who shows confusion about the nature of the interrogative clause, but is essentially a cleft sentence. The same thing can sometimes happen, less commonly, in a cleft sentence with an adverbial interrogative: It is only slowly how this is done.

    Sentences like "It is I who has the key" can also be found in the speech and writing of native speakers, apparently confused about the Latin-based usage. What I have never heard from a native is anything like "It is me that/who have the key."

    I will add that, even in a normal relative clause, the verb can be confusing: He gave it to me, who have?/has? no idea what to do with it.

  9. Chris' Spokesperson Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    I think anglophones just like referring to themselves in the third person. When you say something like He gave it to me, who has no idea what to do with it. You are talking about yourself from a remote perspective, you are relating a tale that features you as a participant while sharing the view point of the person you are relating the tale to. A few months ago this vagary of English prompted me to ask whether in French one would say 'C'est moi qui ai' or 'C'est moi qui a' - and of course I was told it is the former.

    However I find it a little odd the number of suggestions that are being thrown about without any clear context given. I can see almost all of them being correct in certain situations and some not at all in others.
  10. Grop

    Grop Senior Member


    I think that in French we often say C'est moi qui... only to emphasize the subject. In such situations in English you may merely stress it:

    C'est moi qui ai fait la vaisselle. -> *I* washed the dishes.

    (Likewise L'état, c'est moi is often translated as I am the state).

    French doesn't play on stress as easily as English.
  11. lrosa Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    Are you sure this mightn't be a Hibernicism?
  12. Chris' Spokesperson Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    Do you think a British person would say He gave it to me, who have no idea what to do with it ? I don't think anyone would say that except maybe in pidgin English :p

    No, it's not an Irishism, it's grammatically correct and stands for all verbs; I go home first / It's me who goes home first. I take the blame every time / It's me who takes the blame every time.
  13. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    The thing is, I wouldn't say either of those sentences. Neither of them sounds very good to me, regardless of what is grammatically preferrable, so I avoid the problem entirely. :p Instead, I'd end up saying something like:

    He gave it to me - the one/person/etc. who has no idea what to do with it.
  14. Chris' Spokesperson Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    Haha, well, you're right there - but it wasn't my example!

  15. lrosa Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    Indeed, I was thinking that non-Irish people might not be mad about either of those sentences! I can see where you're coming from, though

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