So occasionally I'll see something like this:

– Who did this?  
– Me.

Sometimes they'll go a little further and say Me. I did., but not always.

This is one I see often:

– Hey! You!
– Who? Me?

In cases like these, why is me used instead of I? Are these usages actually correct, or merely acceptable in informal English?

In the first case, I can maybe see it as a shortened/alternative form of [the one] who did this was me. Is this a correct sentence? Or should it be the one who did this was I?

As for the second case, I can kind of get it. The reply might be thought of as a condensed form of Who are you calling out to? Me?, which can be thought of as an alternative way of saying Are you calling out to me?, in which case the need for the object form is obvious.

Is my reasoning correct? Or is it just a rule that "me" is acceptable as a response to "who" clauses?

  • 2
    This is completely unscientific, but I think that for some reason, native speakers of English (AmE, at least) feel uncomfortable using the standalone I. Isolated, exposed, vulnerable, it seems to want to be anywhere else than where it's used. That's probably partly due to its normal role, which is at the beginning of a sentence or clause. Me mostly happens farther down the line. So when you put forms of address (questions, shouted commands, etc.) at the beginning of an exchange, it just "feels right" to use me to complete them. At least it does to me. ^_^
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


Don't think of the "me" in those cases as being a subject or object of anything. It's just a word used on its own by a speaker to refer to themselves. It doesn't really fit into sentence structure - because it's not in a sentence. You can imagine any sentence you like around it, but the practical fact is it's just a label for the first person.

  • 1
    I see. But in that case, couldn't 'I' also be used, since it's also a label for the first person? However, it sounds wrong. Is it just a matter of custom?
    – San Diago
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 16:04
  • 1
    If you really get down to it, language is all about custom. Unlike some languages, English has no "official" correct version, so it's all about describing what people do. Me is the word we use in that sort of situation; it can be analysed, probably several different ways, but it is the way it is.
    – SamBC
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 16:11

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