2

I was who sent you the letter.

Is this sentence grammatical?

I believe it is correct to say

It was me who sent you the letter

which seems like a similar structure.

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    Voting to reopen and migrate, as "I was the one who sent you" or "It was me who sent you" are the obvious Standard English constructions, while "I was who sent you" is not. – ЯegDwight Apr 27 '16 at 19:44
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    Related: "It was me" or "It was I". The entry 131 from Practical English Usage I included in my answer should be helpful. – Damkerng T. Apr 27 '16 at 20:35
2

Why not:

I sent you the letter

Or, to preserve drama:

It was I.

I sent you the letter.

  • Your second sentence is grammatically incorrect. You need to say "It was me." and not "It was I." – ostrichofevil Apr 28 '16 at 2:24
  • @ostrichofevil: I would agree that his second example is incorrect, but I believe you got it switched. Do we actually agree? – zondo Apr 28 '16 at 2:28
  • @zondo Your second example is also incorrect. You can't put "me" after the verb "to be" or its conjugations. – ostrichofevil Apr 28 '16 at 2:32
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    @ostrichofevil: I must admit that I am confused. I gave no examples. I realize that you can't put "me" after the verb "to be" or its conjugations. That is why I left my comment. You said "You need to say 'It was me.'...", but that is wrong. It should be "It was I". You started your comment by saying that the second sentence is wrong. Therefore, your comment was contradictory and I was trying to clarify. – zondo Apr 28 '16 at 2:35
  • Good catch, I have fixed it. – Elle Fie Apr 29 '16 at 21:16
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"It was me who sent you the letter" is actually wrong, grammatically. You want "It was I who sent you the letter."

"It was me. I sent you the letter." as suggested by Elle Fie is also wrong. It is a common misconception that you can say "It is me" or "It is him." The correct forms are "It is I" and It is he."

When the verb "to be" is followed by a pronoun, that pronoun is a subject pronoun. That's just a rule of English grammar.

"I was who sent you the letter." doesn't work either. You need something between "I was" and "who."

Here are some example sentences that work:

  • It was I who sent you the letter.
  • It was I. I sent you the letter.
  • I was he who sent you the letter.
  • I was the person who sent you the letter.

EDIT - A similar question that might explain this. An article on this topic.

  • "When the verb "to be" is followed by a pronoun, that pronoun is a subject pronoun." That's wrong as a general statement. Even in "traditional" grammar, object pronouns are prescribed after "to be" when it's preceded by an object pronoun (for example, in the sentence "They wanted it to be me"). – sumelic Aug 17 '16 at 0:49

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