No, he's Mike

Sun14

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello, my friends,

I was wondering whether the underlined part is idiomatic:

A: Is he Tom?

B: No, he's Mike.

Thoughts and context: A asked B whether the man they saw is Tom but B said no and gave another answer. I thought the way to answer yes or no question should always be like this: No, he isn't. He's Mike but I still want to know whether the underlined part could also be a good way to answer.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Your question is flawed. You say "A asked B whether the man they saw is Tom" <- this describes an incident that has finished.

    So it would be

    A: "Was that Tom?" -> here, to make this idiomatic, Tom would have had to have been the subject of an earlier conversation - perhaps someone whom B was trying to describe.
    B: "No, that was Mike." -> Note how "that was" and "was that" are parallel - this is how a question is (usually) answered.

    If B is showing A a photograph of several people, then A could point to someone and ask:

    A: Is he Tom?
    B: No, he's Mike. :tick:
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Your question is flawed. You say "A asked B whether the man they saw is Tom" <- this describes an incident that has finished.

    So it would be

    A: "Was that Tom?" -> here, to make this idiomatic, Tom would have had to have been the subject of an earlier conversation - perhaps someone whom B was trying to describe.
    B: "No, that was Mike." -> Note how "that was" and "was that" are parallel - this is how a question is (usually) answered.

    If B is showing A a photograph of several people, then A could point to someone and ask:

    A: Is he Tom?
    B: No, he's Mike. :tick:

    On reflection, this sounds better for the reasons explained by Paul in Post 4:

    Is that Tom?
    No, that's Mike.

    How about in this situation Tom is a new student and no one knows who he is. A asks the question when A saw a man might be him in class one day:

    A: Is he Tom?

    B: No, he's Mike.
     

    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    How about in this situation Tom is a new student and no one knows who he is. A asks the question when A saw a man might be him in class one day:

    A: Is he Tom?

    B: No, he's Mike.

    I agree that "Is that Tom?" "No, that's Mike." is more natural and likely.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Your question is flawed. You say "A asked B whether the man they saw is Tom" <- this describes an incident that has finished.

    So it would be

    A: "Was that Tom?" -> here, to make this idiomatic, Tom would have had to have been the subject of an earlier conversation - perhaps someone whom B was trying to describe.
    B: "No, that was Mike." -> Note how "that was" and "was that" are parallel - this is how a question is (usually) answered.

    If B is showing A a photograph of several people, then A could point to someone and ask:

    A: Is he Tom?
    B: No, he's Mike. :tick:

    Does No. He's Mike and No, he's Mike mean the same thing?
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    Hi, Dear Teachers,
    I am having some trouble understanding why "that" has been suggested in the above posts instead of "he" - why cannot "he" be used?

    I see nothing wrong with "he" here:
    Was he Tom?
    No, he was Mike.


    Can someone explain the reason why "that" has been used in place of "he"?
    Thanks!
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    This and that are conventionally used for introductions and identifying people.

    We say, 'May I introduce you to my friends? This is Jane, and this is Mary.'
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I am having some trouble understanding why "that" has been suggested in the above posts instead of "he" - why cannot "he" be used?

    I see nothing wrong with "he" here:
    Was he Tom?
    No, he was Mike.


    Can someone explain the reason why "that" has been used in place of "he"?

    As Nat said, we use "this" and "that" to introduce people and avoid "he" and "she". Hindi might not differentiate between them but English certainly does.
    It has more to do with natural and idiomatic English than with grammar -- it's just the way it is.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    This and that are conventionally used for introductions and identifying people.

    We say, 'May I introduce you to my friends? This is Jane, and this is Mary.'

    In the occasion I describe I didn't want to introduce someone why should I still use that?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I am having some trouble understanding why "that" has been suggested in the above posts instead of "he" - why cannot "he" be used?

    I see nothing wrong with "he" here:
    Was he Tom?
    No, he was Mike.


    Can someone explain the reason why "that" has been used in place of "he"?
    Thanks!
    That just sounds odd. It almost suggests to me that he's changed his name, and he's now called Fred. :eek:
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I did say that we use this and that to identify people too.
    This is true - "that" seems to be a contraction of "that person." However, it may be that some versions of English take objection to this: I remember asking "Is that him?" in the presence of a Nigerian English speaker and referring to another Nigerian speaker - both of them took exception to the use of "that."
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    This is true - "that" seems to be a contraction of "that person." However, it may be that some versions of English take objection to this: I remember asking "Is that him?" in the presence of a Nigerian English speaker and referring to another Nigerian speaker - both of them took exception to the use of "that."

    Got it. Thank you very much.
     
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