it was he/him who told you...

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cfu507

Senior Member
Hebrew
"David is late. I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here"

This sentence was taken from a book. My question is would it be wrong if I said "it was him who...", or maybe "him" would be correct only if the man they are talking about was around.

Thank you
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    He told you I would be here.
    He is the subject of told.

    If you then make this into a cleft sentence, the subject of told is still he.
    It was he who told you I would be here.

    Add I suppose at the beginning:
    I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here.
     

    cfu507

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Thank you panjandrum,
    What is the difference between the sentence I gave you and the following example:

    - who did this?
    - it was him

    I made it up so maybe I'm wrong and I should say "it was he" in the example above

    Thanks
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It's not uncommon (at least in the U.S.) to hear "It was him", but it is grammatically correct to say, "It was he."

    There's a very interesting thread on a related subject - "It is I/me". I'll see if I can track it down.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Here's my answer, CFU. I am fully prepared to get my knuckles rapped for this post.

    According to the strict 'rules' of 'grammar', it is he who is 'correct'. If the author is a stickler for 'correct' grammar, or is concerned what grammarians or the grammatically-minded think of his English, he should use it is he who.

    According to usage, it's him who is 'correct' ... because that's what people actually say.

    I dare say a lot of people will now jump down my throat saying, "I would never say it's him who". My advice, as ever on these occasions, is Listen to what people say, listen to what you say ~ it'll surprise you.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    These are only theories. I bet there have been some surveys about it but none that I know of.

    I suspect the usage on this matter also depends on outside factors.

    (1) It was he who told you
    (1b) It was him who told you

    Who broke the plate?
    (2) It was he.
    (2b) It was him.

    I would expect 2b to be more frequent than 1b.

    Similarly, I think the person (1st, 2nd,..) also makes a difference.
    I mean, while you may have an even balance between
    It was he who...... and
    It was him who...

    you're probably more likely to hear
    It was me who...... than
    It was I who....
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It was he who told you...

    Things get more interesting and complicated when one asks oneself if the told is in the third person singular because of the it is or because of the him/he. In English one can only tell if one shifts into the present (which has different verb forms) and introduces another person than the 3rd singular.

    1. It is I who am told
    2. It is me who am told
    3. It is I who is told
    4. It is me who is told

    I couldn't say 2. 3. or 4, and, to be consistent, I hope I say I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here. I agree that there are people who say I suppose it was him who... but it sets my teeth on edge. Illogically, and disgracefully, I suppose, I mind less it was him, in response to the question who did it?
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    It was he who told you...

    Things get more interesting and complicated when one asks oneself if the told is in the third person singular because of the it is or because of the him/he. In English one can only tell if one shifts into the present (which has different verb forms) and introduces another person than the 3rd singular.

    1. It is I who am told
    2. It is me who am told
    3. It is I who is told
    4. It is me who is told


    I couldn't say 2. 3. or 4, and, to be consistent, I hope I say I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here. I agree that there are people who say I suppose it was him who... but it sets my teeth on edge. Illogically, and disgracefully, I suppose, I mind less it was him, in response to the question who did it?
    Which of the following would you consider correct?

    It is you, not Sam, who is mistaken.
    It is you, not Sam, who are mistaken.

    My teacher said "is" is correct but didn't explain why. I don't like "is".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Edison

    My choice would be between:
    [more formal] It is you, not Sam, who are mistaken.
    and
    [less formal] It's you, not Sam, that's mistaken. ~ or, more probably, It's you that's mistaken, not Sam.
     
    Last edited:

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hi Edison

    My choice would be between:
    [more formal] It is you, not Sam, who are mistaken.
    and
    [less formal] It's you, not Sam, that's mistaken. ~ or, more probably, It's you that's mistaken, not Sam.
    Maybe it's because "who" actually refers to Sam and not "you"?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    No, neither the "who" in the more formal version nor the "that" in the less formal one refers to Sam.

    I would have the same options without the reference to Sam:
    It is you who are mistaken.
    It's you that's mistaken.


    Similarly:
    [more formal] It is I who am mistaken.
    [less formal] It's me that's mistaken.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It is you, not Sam, who are mistaken. :thumbsup:

    "not Sam" is in parenthesis and is isolated from the sentence "It is you who are mistaken."

    Compare "David (and for that matter, his sister) is a brilliant artist."

    However, as everyone else seems to be saying, I would not be surprised to hear either and both are acceptable: usage has overcome any grammar "rules".
     
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