In my language we can change the referring to a pronoun from 1st to 3rd simply by putting a relative pronouns, for example:

"I am the man who was there"?

  • (I= 1st person. was=3rd person)

"I am the man who takes it every day"

  • (I= 1st person. takes=3rd person)

"I am the man who writes here answers"

  • (I= 1st person. writes=3rd person)

"I am a man who likes to travel"

Are these type of sentences the same and correct in English?

If they are, then what is the name for that kind of sentence structure?

  • 3
    Yes, the sentences are correct.
    – Khan
    Dec 21, 2016 at 2:57
  • 2
    Yes, they're correct (although the third one would be better phrased as "the man who writes answers here"). For a famous similar example, see the line "I am the one who knocks." (Skip to about 1:32 if you don't want to see the whole thing.)
    – stangdon
    Dec 21, 2016 at 3:00
  • 1
    Thank you. Is it right also for the sentences with changing from the 2nd person to 3rd person? (for example: "You are the man who was here") Dec 21, 2016 at 4:51
  • 2
    @Industrious Yes, that's okay too. The same principle applies. The difference in person is reflected in the contrast between the verb-forms "are" and "was". "Are" is 2nd sg agreeing with "you", while "was" is 3rd sg agreeing with "who", which takes its person-number properties from its antecedent "man". Generally with predicatives there is no requirement for agreement of person.
    – BillJ
    Dec 21, 2016 at 10:05
  • 2
    Surely not always, Max. For example, in It is I who am master now, "who" is 1st person.
    – BillJ
    Dec 21, 2016 at 14:51

4 Answers 4


They are correct.

But they carry a lot of emotional and dramatic weight because of the "I am the man who" structure.

Scenario 1: I'm in an elevator, the power goes out for 5 minutes, I use the emergency phone to talk to the building manager, and then everything is ok. When someone mentions it the next week, if I say "I am the man who was in the elevator", I would sound pompous and ridiculous. The more normal expression would be "That was me."

Scenario 2: I'm an assistant on a dig in the Great Pyramid, and am the first person to see a relic that eventually proves something momentous about the ancient Egyptians. 30 years later, I overhear someone disputing that fact. I respond by saying "I am the man who first uncovered the whatsis of Ramses: you, sir, are wrong!" In that case, "I am the man" would be appropriate.


Your added example of "I am a man who..." is less dramatic, although still not idiomatic. People are more likely to say "I like to travel" or "I'm the kind of person who likes to travel".


The sentences are correct. I would recommend not thinking of the switch to third person as being caused by the relative pronoun; rather, it's the noun phrase "the man" (the antecedent of "who" in your sentences) which licenses third-person singular agreement.

"I am the man who was there"

(This would be fine in any case, since "was" both the first and the third person singular form)

"I am the man who takes it every day"

"I am the man who writes here answers"

(the placement of "here" in this sentence is not correct)

"I am a man who likes to travel"

(These are all correct in terms of verb agreement because "a man who takes...," "a man who writes...", and "a man who likes..." are all correct)

Similarly, "you are the man who was..." or "you are the one who was..." are correct.

However, when the relative pronoun "who" comes directly after a personal pronoun such as "I" or "you", speakers generally prefer to use first or second person agreement. Note that this structure sounds rather formal and it may be inappropriate for ordinary speech.



Your sentences are all understandable, though your last sentence might read better as

I am the man who writes answers here.

Also, "I am the man" may sound aggressive, depending on intonation.

If you wanted to continue being a more aggressive and have a "gangsta" sound you might use

I be the man...
I be the one...

I be the one who was there!
I be the man who takes it every day! Y'all!
I be the one who writes the answers here!

  • 1
    I've added another example that I can't imagine it be aggressive: "I am a man who likes to travel" Dec 21, 2016 at 3:23
  • 3
    The "I be ..." confection doesn't have a "gangsta" sound at all. If anything, it has more of a jokey pirate sound. True "gangsta" would use the African-American vernacular's "zero copula."
    – Robusto
    Dec 21, 2016 at 4:05

I want to reiterate what sumelic wrote:

the noun phrase "the man" (the antecedent of "who" in your sentences) licenses third-person singular agreement

You can fully understand why the 1st person and the 3rd person in your examples may not be as closely related as you indicated by using a group of entities to build an example in the 3rd person plural:

The queen cannot be seen as a single entity, she is a collective consciousness whose thoughts are shared and dwell in all the entities of the hive.

She is the bees who are at work everyday, who seek the best flowers in the garden and who together define the hive.

In order to understand this, she once told me:

  • "I am not just this physical body you see, I am also my children who are watchful, fight and care for the hive. I see what they see, I feel what they feel."

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