What are the grammatical terms to describe the two different ways of using the words "me" in these two sentences?

  1. This is me
  2. Kill me

I found out that there is a difference between these two in another language and they use two different forms of the noun "I" in these two cases. What are the linguistic terms to explain the difference?

  • 1
    There is no difference. But historically we wrote "this is I", not "this is me".
    – The Photon
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 4:32
  • 1
    My point is that today's English doesn't recognize that difference although a few decades ago it did.
    – The Photon
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 4:41
  • 1
    Google the word copula for an explanation of how it used to work (and how it still works in some other languages)
    – The Photon
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 4:42
  • 3
    In 'Kill me', me is the object of the verb. In 'It is I', 'This is I', I is effectively the subject. Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 8:27
  • 1
    I upvoted one comment and I would have posted an answer if I knew. For those commenting, kindly read the question body (=NOT only the header). <title> Yang asked about the grammatical terms.
    – Tuomo
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 15:12

1 Answer 1

  1. The "me" in your first sentence is a subject complement.

    Normally, "I" is a nominative pronoun, which means it has the role of subject. And normally, "me" is an accusative pronoun, which means it has the role of an object.

    In your first sentence, "this" is the subject, and by definition a noun after "is" is a part of the subject too because of the copula "is". We say this third word "completes the subject", so we call it a subject complement. Now, since it's a subject, and "I" is our nominative pronoun, we should expect the sentence "This is I", as it is in other languages, and as it used to be in English. But nowadays we almost always use "me" as a subject complement. Saying "This is I" or "It is I" these days is laughably formal.

  2. The second "me" is the direct object of "kill". This follow normal rules of grammar as "me" is the standard accusative pronoun, so it's no surprise to find it in the role of object.

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