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I still have problems to figure out when it's right to use I or me in an answer.

For example, what is the right answer to "Who did this?"

If I did it, should I say I or me? I've heard native speakers using both. Is there a rule?

And what are some examples when to use me, and when I?

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    You use "I" as the subject of a sentence, and "me" as an object in a sentence. When replying with a one-word response, most speakers say, "Me" – the leading "It was" is implied. I think it would be rare to answer, "I" – usually, that would be spoken as "I did." – J.R. Mar 13 '13 at 17:10
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    When to use "I" and "me" is quite a complex question and I suspect most native English speakers would not be able to give you a proper rule for doing so (I can't!). As a general rule for English Language Learners, I would say that you would never use "I" on its own, but you can use "me" on its own. – FakeDIY Mar 13 '13 at 18:16
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    All in favor of the theory given by @FakeDIY, say "aye." :^) – J.R. Mar 13 '13 at 19:46
  • I'd appreciate it if someone could comment on my updated example. I wasn't sure how to deal with that because a new question would only be a duplicate. I hope that's fine. – Michael Härtl Apr 9 '13 at 16:39
  • The updated example is, in fact, a different (but somewhat related) issue. Since the speaker is the object, not the subject, me should be used instead of I. The author of the example has used the incorrect word. – yoozer8 Apr 9 '13 at 16:49
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Since a full response would be "I did this" (or "I did it"), "I did" and "I" are both correct responses.

However, it is common in cases like this to simply say "me" (although it would not be correct to say "Me did it").

I'm not sure I've ever actually heard "I" as a response to such a question. I certainly wouldn't respond in that way. I would use one of the following:

I did.

I did it.

Me.

It was me.

  • Thanks. Maybe my example also wasn't perfect. Is there a case, where "i" would be possible and "me" would be wrong? Or vice versa? – Michael Härtl Mar 13 '13 at 17:06
  • Any case where the answer is an actual sentence (such as "I did it") requires "I" as the subject. Using "Me" as the subject would be incorrect. – yoozer8 Mar 13 '13 at 17:09
  • Eliding "did" from the sentence "I did" is unnatural, so I don't think "I" should be listed as a correct response. Apart from that, the whole answer seems good. – snailcar Mar 13 '13 at 17:17
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    The response "It was I" is technically correct, but hopelessly dated/poetic in most spoken contexts today. – FumbleFingers Mar 13 '13 at 17:38
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    @FumbleFingers: Reminds me of a joke I once heard: St. Peter hears a knock at the Pearly Gates. He says, “Who goes there?” A voice replies, “It is I.” St. Peter says, “Go away! We don’t need any more English teachers.” :) – Matt Apr 9 '13 at 19:05
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The original question and the update are two different situations. The example in the update is simply wrong. The object should always be "me". As was said, the rules get fuzzy in colloquial English and people usually ignore such rules violations. If you find yourself telling a story and you are unsure of which one to say, just say one and keep going, it's not worth stopping your story to figure out. However, if you are writing, it doesn't interrupt the story to fix it and you will be judged more critically, so do take the time to get it right.

We could simply pretend that the same answer (except "I" for the subject) applies to the original question too, but there is actually something else happening in the specific example given. When we ask the name of a book, we state the answer as "The name of the book is The Big Event" even though we ask, "What is the name of the book?" We switch the subject and object in the question and the answer. Same thing for the question, "Where is the book?" The answer is, "The book is there." "Who's book is it?" "It is my book." These questions CAN be answered in the same order as the question ("The Big Event is the name of the book." "There is the book." "The book is mine."), but it is not the standard. Actually, you would probably most often just get a simple answer, "The Big Event," "There," "Mine." The confusion doesn't exist for these simple answers because they don't change based on whether they are the subject or the object, but the common answers show that they are acting as the objects even though the question seems to put them as the subjects. Similarly for the question, "Who did it?" the most common full answer is "It was me." It is not incorrect to say, "I did it," but when we shorten it to one word, we are usually shortening the, "It was me," answer, so we just say, "Me."

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