This Is She or Her: Understanding Correct Usage

In English grammar, pronouns play a crucial role in forming coherent and understandable sentences. However, the correct usage of pronouns, especially “she” and “her,” can often be confusing. This article delves deeply into the correct …

In English grammar, pronouns play a crucial role in forming coherent and understandable sentences. However, the correct usage of pronouns, especially “she” and “her,” can often be confusing. This article delves deeply into the correct usage of “this is she” versus “this is her,” unraveling the intricacies of these pronouns and their grammatical contexts. Understanding when to use “she” or “her” correctly not only refines your grammatical prowess but also ensures clearer communication. Read on to explore common mistakes, rules and exceptions, practical examples, and even test your knowledge in a short quiz.

Introduction to Pronoun Usage

Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns, and they are essential for avoiding redundancy in sentences. Among the pronouns, “she” and “her” often lead to confusion, particularly when forming statements like “this is she” or “this is her.” The distinction becomes more pronounced as we pay close attention to their grammatical functions. “She” is a subject pronoun, meaning it acts as the subject of a clause, while “her” is an object pronoun, serving as the object of a verb or preposition. Misusing these pronouns can lead not only to grammatical errors but also to misunderstandings in everyday communication.

Common Mistakes: “This Is She” vs. “This Is Her”

One of the most frequent mistakes involves the use of “this is she” versus “this is her.” Many people tend to use these phrases interchangeably, even though they are grammatically different. Saying “this is her” when answering a phone call may sound correct to some, but it is, in fact, incorrect according to traditional English grammar rules. The confusion stems from the misconception that “her” can be used in place of “she” in all contexts, which is not the case. The use of “this is she” correctly follows the rule of using a subject pronoun when the pronoun acts as the subject of the verb “to be.”

Rules and Exceptions

Understanding the grammatical rules governing the usage of “she” and “her” will clear up much confusion. According to standard English grammar, when a pronoun follows a linking verb like “is” in “this is,” the pronoun should be in the subjective case, meaning you should use “she” instead of “her.” Therefore, “This is she” is correct because “she” functions as the subject complement, linking back to the subject “this.”

However, casual spoken English often bends these rules. In everyday conversation, people frequently use “this is her,” which has become somewhat accepted in informal contexts. Despite this, it’s essential to adhere to the grammatical norm, especially in formal writing and speaking situations. English doesn’t have many exceptions to this rule, which makes it fairly straightforward once you grasp the concept.

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Practical Examples

To further elucidate the correct usage, let’s examine some practical examples:

Correct Usage:
1. Telephone introduction: When answering the phone and someone asks for you, the grammatically correct response is “This is she.”
2. Formal situations: In a business meeting or formal setting, you should say, “It is she who will present the report.”

Incorrect Usage:
1. Casual conversation: Though common, “This is her speaking” is not grammatically correct.
2. Grammatical error: “It is her who is responsible for this project” is incorrect; the correct form would be “It is she who is responsible.”

By practicing with these examples, you can improve your understanding and usage of “she” and “her” in different contexts.

Quiz Yourself

An excellent way to solidify your understanding of these rules is through practice. Try answering the following questions to test your knowledge:

1. When introducing yourself on the phone, should you say “This is she” or “This is her”?
2. In the sentence “It was she/her who made the final decision,” which is correct?
3. Which pronoun completes the sentence correctly? “I heard it from you and __ (she/her).”

1. “This is she.”
2. “It was she who made the final decision.”
3. “I heard it from you and her.”

By engaging with these exercises, you will deepen your comprehension and be better equipped to use “she” and “her” correctly across different scenarios.

More in ‘Grammar’

For those interested in further honing their grammatical skills, exploring additional grammar resources can be invaluable. Whether it’s understanding other pronouns, mastering verb tenses, or improving punctuation, a robust grasp of grammar can significantly enhance your writing and speaking abilities. Books, online courses, and grammar-focused websites offer extensive resources for both beginners and advanced learners.

Historical Evolution of Pronoun Usage

Pronouns have undergone significant evolution throughout the history of the English language, and understanding this evolution can provide valuable context when distinguishing between “this is she” and “this is her”.

The Old English era had a much more complex system of pronouns that would change form based on grammatical gender, case, and number. For example, the pronoun system was divided into nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative cases. Over time, these distinctions began to blur. By the Middle English period, the various cases had consolidated significantly, simplifying the language.

During the Early Modern English period, which spans from the late 15th to the early 17th century, grammatical standards started to become more codified due to the influence of grammar texts and increased literacy. It was in this period that many of the “rules” we recognize today, including the proper usage of subject and object pronouns, began to solidify.

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In modern usage, “this is she” follows the traditional grammatical prescription where the pronoun after a linking verb like “is” should be in the nominative case. However, colloquial usage often favors “this is her,” reflecting a broader trend towards simplification and relaxed grammatical rules in spoken English. This ongoing evolution continues to create tension between prescriptive grammar (which dictates how language should be used) and descriptive grammar (which describes how language is actually used).

Understanding the historical evolution of pronouns helps explain why certain forms exist and why there may be discrepancies between formal and informal usage. It also highlights the flexibility and adaptability of the English language, which continues to evolve in response to social and cultural changes.

Influence of Formal English vs. Informal English on Pronoun Usage

The distinction between formal and informal English plays a crucial role in the usage of pronouns, especially when it comes to choosing between “this is she” and “this is her”.

Formal English

In formal English, grammatical correctness is often prioritized to maintain clarity and elegance. In this context, “this is she” is deemed correct because “she” is a subject pronoun and follows the grammatical rule that the pronoun after a linking verb should be in the nominative case. Formal English settings include academic writing, official reports, and professional communications, where adherence to traditional rules is expected.

Informal English

Conversely, informal English allows for a more relaxed approach to language. In everyday conversations, people often use “this is her” because it feels more natural and less stilted. Informal English settings include casual conversations, text messages, and social media interactions, where the focus is on ease of communication rather than strict adherence to grammatical norms.

The influence of media also perpetuates informal usages. Television shows, movies, and internet content tend to reflect spoken language more accurately than formal writing does. As a result, audiences become more accustomed to hearing and using phrases like “this is her” in their daily lives.

Furthermore, the context and audience often dictate the level of formality required. For instance, when answering the phone in a professional environment, saying “This is she” may project a sense of professionalism and adherence to formal English standards. In contrast, among friends or family, “This is her” is more likely to be acceptable and understood without judgment.

Ultimately, understanding when to use formal vs. informal pronoun usages can enhance effective communication. While strict grammatical correctness has its place in formal settings, recognizing the fluidity of informal English allows for more natural interactions in everyday life. Knowing the difference empowers speakers to navigate various social contexts with linguistic flexibility and accuracy.

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Sure, here are five FAQs related to understanding the correct usage of “This Is She or Her”:

FAQ 1: What is the correct usage: “This is she” or “This is her”?
Question: When answering the phone or introducing oneself, should I say “This is she” or “This is her”?

Answer: The grammatically correct phrase is “This is she.” This usage follows traditional grammar rules where the pronoun after the verb “to be” should be in the subject form. Although “This is her” is commonly used in informal contexts, “This is she” is considered proper English.

FAQ 2: Why is “This is she” considered grammatically correct?
Question: Why do grammarians insist that “This is she” is the proper form?

Answer: “This is she” is considered grammatically correct because in English grammar, the pronoun following a linking verb (like “is” in this case) should be in the nominative (subject) case rather than the objective case. Therefore, since “she” is the nominative form, it is correct.

FAQ 3: Is it ever acceptable to say “This is her”?
Question: Can I ever use “This is her” without being incorrect?

Answer: While “This is her” is technically incorrect in formal speech, it is widely used and accepted in casual, everyday conversation. Language norms evolve over time, and “This is her” has become broadly understood and commonly used. However, for formal writing or speech, “This is she” remains the recommended usage.

FAQ 4: Does this rule apply in other similar situations?
Question: Does the rule about using “this is she” apply in other similar constructs?

Answer: Yes, similar rules apply in other situations where a linking verb is used. For example, “It is he” instead of “It is him” follows the same principle. The pronoun should be in the nominative case when it follows a linking verb.

FAQ 5: How can I remember to use “This is she” correctly?
Question: Do you have any tips or tricks for remembering to use “This is she” correctly?

Answer: One way to remember is to think of the sentence in its extended form. If you were to add the rest of the sentence, it would be “This is she who is speaking,” where “she” clearly needs to be in the subject form to be grammatically correct. Keeping this in mind can help reinforce the correct usage. Additionally, consistent practice in both written and spoken communication will help habituate the correct form.

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