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When you answer the phone, I'm wondering if 'This is speaking' is correct instead of 'This is he speaking.' please tell me the correct expression.

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    Non-native opinion: I wouldn’t understand either of those sentences. “Yes, that’s me” is what I would naturally use. – Grimmy Dec 14 '17 at 9:44
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    Whatever it should have been, it's been worn down to "speaking" by native speakers. – Joshua Dec 14 '17 at 14:44
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    You need to clarify the context a bit. To me, "answering the phone" means that it starts ringing, you have no idea who it is (assuming a classic land line), you pick up the handset and say something. In this case I don't think you'd ever say "This is speaking", even if it was correct. On the other hand, if they call you, you answer without saying your name, and they say they want to speak with <your name>, then an answer like "this is speaking", though incorrect, makes sense. I think you could edit the question to clarify that you refer to the second case, not to the first one. – Fabio says Reinstate Monica Dec 14 '17 at 16:45
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    I am not sure whether "This is speaking" is grammatically correct, but I can assure you that no native English speaker would understand what you are trying to say. – Malvolio Dec 15 '17 at 1:28
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You wouldn't normally refer to yourself as "this" without using a personal pronoun in the predicate. I usually say, "This is she," but my usage is probably a bit overly correct. Probably, most people say "That's me." (Even though the objective "me" is technically incorrect here.)

Regardless, "this is speaking" is neither correct nor natural grammar.

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    Considering that a very large number of people consistently say "That's me" instead of, say, "This is (s)he", wouldn't it be fair to just accept that "That's me" is correct? – Clearer Dec 14 '17 at 8:04
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    @joiedevivre I feel that in almost all contexts nowadays, "to be" is much more regular than it once was, in that it takes a subject and an object that are declined as such. "It's me" is so much more common to hear than "it is I", and I'm struggling to think of any examples where the nominative sounds better/less wrong to me than the objective. All such uses just sound archaic these days. – Muzer Dec 14 '17 at 10:10
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    @Muzer Nominative is correct in Latin (and probably derivative languages like French and Spanish, I don't know). Accusative ("objective") is correct in germanic languages, like German and the Scandinavian languages. English is an amalgam, so it's difficult to say what is truly "correct". – Arthur Dec 14 '17 at 12:48
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    It isn't a matter of whether it's "correct" to say "this is he/she/" or "that's me" [it's at least arguable that the latter is incorrect under certain prescriptive rules, but as another commenter points out, the construction's ubiquity makes it "correct" in a certain sense], but that it's considered by many to be more formal to use the first construction. It also provides more information to the caller, particularly the speaker's preferred gender identification. – Darren Ringer Dec 14 '17 at 13:56
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    Obligatory XKCD: xkcd.com/1771 – Fabio says Reinstate Monica Dec 14 '17 at 17:07
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Like @joiedevivre, I was taught from an early age to say This is he, but this is rather formal, deriving from centuries of directive that only nominative pronouns should follow a copula. In practice, this is unnatural for a native speaker; a well-educated person who is careful to state that is he in writing will say that's him in casual conversation and not think twice about it. The nominative forms are nowadays used almost exclusively as subjects.

On the other hand, This is he is far better than It is I, which may provoke uncontrollable laughter unless you are quoting the Bible, or perhaps a comic book superhero.

There is no single formula for responding to a question like May I speak to Jinsook? or Is Jinsook available? Any of the following might be acceptable:

This is Jinsook speaking.

You're speaking to Jinsook / You're speaking to her.

Jinsook speaking.

Speaking.

This is Jinsook.

This is she.

This is.

Jinsook here. (not Jinsook is here)

I'm Jinsook / I am Jinsook.

That would be me.

That's me.

You can insert Yes in front of any of these, with a pause, and some people will also use them in combination with one another, separated by a pause. Thus, if you have heard other people saying This is speaking, it may have been a conflation of two separate responses that should have been separated:

This is, speaking

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    No. "This is." would not be used by a native speaker. Nor would a native speaker say "This is speaking", with or without the comma. – RedSonja Dec 14 '17 at 9:19
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    As a native speaker, I have heard and used "This is." It seems to have an implied "this is [that person]". There is a slightly elevated emphasis on the "is" (the "this" is still emphasized more than the the "is"), as in "I don't need to go get that person because this is that person". – taz Dec 14 '17 at 13:36
  • Maybe there's a dialect difference going on here. There should be a general rule on this site if there isn't already that advice on colloquial usage should always be labelled with dialects known to use it. As a UK native, if someone said "this is", I'd reply with a confused "this is what?" – IMSoP Dec 14 '17 at 14:56
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    @choster The OP also didn't specify the exact question being asked. It's easy to see how "This is" is a legitimate answer to "Is this Jinsook?" – joiedevivre Dec 14 '17 at 19:05
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    Upvoted specifically for "This is..." and "Speaking" which are the two most common usages in my experience. – barbecue Dec 14 '17 at 20:32
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This is speaking in any way sounds incorrect to me.

In addition,

If you are answering the call, you don't refer yourself as a 'third person!' So, it should be 'This is Jinsook Lee speaking.'

However, I'd refrain myself using that, and rather would go with the commonest one:

This is Jinsook...

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    Or one can just say "Speaking" and be done with it – CinCout Dec 14 '17 at 3:15
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    @CinCout exactly! I do that! :) – Maulik V Dec 14 '17 at 3:15
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    Another possible common variant to "this is Jinsook" would be "I'm Jinsook." – joiedevivre Dec 14 '17 at 3:18
  • It is also common, more in business settings, to just say "Jinsook speaking." It's usually not a response, but something you say when you first come on the line, either answering the phone or someone being transferred to you. For example, "Corporate accounting, Bob speaking," or just "Bob speaking" if it's Bob's office and someone was just transferred there, or "Thank you for calling Some Business, Larry speaking" when answering the phone. – taz Dec 14 '17 at 13:39
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    Ironically, if you say "this is speaking" out loud, it's always a true statement. Just not the one the OP intends to make. – JimmyJames Dec 14 '17 at 15:32
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I definitely concur with Bob, and disagree with Maulik V about not using the third person. On the phone is about the only place I find using the third person about me as a natural thing, normally when specifying who in the household or business is "on the phone".

"ACME Industries, Ted speaking." would be a perfectly acceptable opening, as would:

"ACME Industries, this is Ted"

You could stretch it out by saying:

"ACME Industries, this is Ted speaking"

but you cannot abbreviate it, by removing the name. "This is he" works as a confirmation of who is on the line, but it is still a bit awkward, but "This is him" is even moreso. Talking on the phone does not always involve natural language. We often use hand gestures while on the phone. While that may be natural, it is not very useful.

  • Do we really have common understanding of what is third person! in grammar? – Maulik V Dec 15 '17 at 4:05
  • I don't know. Do we? I think using a name is usually 2nd or 3rd person, but the usage does not fall directly in line with our use of pronouns. Examples: "Hey Ted" can be replaced by "Hey you", but "My name is Ted" cannot be replaced by "My name is me"..We do say third person pronoun, which must specify something (in addition to 3rd person). Perhaps it would be clearer if I said 3rd person reference. Again, telephonespeak is not identical to other speach. I read recently that referring to oneself by name is a Buddhist thing. In this case, on the telephone, it is expedience. – T.E.D. Dec 15 '17 at 20:49
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I'm going to go out on a limb here.

Q: Is this John Smith?

A: This is, speaking ...

makes perfect sense, but certainly isn't all that common. Simply saying "Speaking." as suggested by @CinCout is what I grew up hearing my father say on the phone, though.

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I am a native speaker, and I usually say "This is Bob"...I have heard "speaking" from time to time, and also "this is" but I have never ever heard "this is speaking" the construction does not make any sense without the comma as suggested above, but even that would be extremely rare. In informal situations "it's me" would probably be used, especially with younger people, but in business it would be considered very informal

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"This is speaking" sounds completely incorrect to me. I would wonder if I had misheard or missed part of the conversation due to a faulty phone line. "This is ..." would normally be used like:

This is fun.

This is a knife!

Personally I answer the phone with my full name and nothing else, so that the caller knows immediately they have reached me (assuming that is their goal). In your case you could say:

Jinsook Lee.

Or variants:

Jinsook here.

Hello, Jinsook here.

Jinsook Lee speaking.


Once again, don't say "This is speaking". If I heard that I might think you had said "Therese speaking" and wonder if I had dialed the wrong number.

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