Is It Correct to Say, “That Is Him”?

Marcus Froland

Picture this: you’re scrolling through your favorite social media platform and stumble upon a photo. You think to yourself, “Hey, I know that person!” Excitedly, you type out a comment, “That is him!” But then you pause. A flicker of doubt crosses your mind. Is that really the right way to say it? It sounds so simple, yet now you’re second-guessing everything you thought you knew about English.

In the vast ocean of grammar rules, it’s easy to feel lost at sea. The English language is tricky, with its countless exceptions and rules that seem to contradict each other. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, something comes along to throw a wrench in the works. And here we are, facing another one of those moments over something as seemingly straightforward as identifying someone in a photo.

So what’s the verdict? Is “That is him” grammatically correct or have we all been making a mistake every time we hit send on that comment? Stick around because the answer might just surprise you.

When it comes to speaking or writing in English, many people wonder if the phrase “That is him” is correct. The simple answer is: it depends on the context. In everyday conversation, saying “That is him” is widely accepted and understood. This form of speech, known as colloquial language, fits casual settings perfectly.

However, if you’re in a formal situation or writing for professional purposes, the grammatically correct phrase would be “That is he”. This follows the traditional rule of matching the subject pronoun (he) with the verb (is). But remember, this formal version might sound strange to most ears because it’s not commonly used in daily speech.

In summary, while “That is him” might not meet strict grammatical standards, it’s perfectly fine for everyday use. For more formal contexts, consider using “That is he”.

Understanding the Use of Personal Pronouns in Grammar

Personal pronouns are essential components of the English language, and proper understanding of their grammatical rules can help you communicate more effectively. In this section, we will discuss the role of subjective and objective case pronouns, linking verbs, and predicate nominatives in grammar.

The Role of Subjective and Objective Case Pronouns

Subjective case pronouns function as the subject of a sentence, describing a state of being rather than an action. Examples of subjective case pronouns include “I,” “you,” “he,” “she,” “we,” and “they.” On the other hand, objective case pronouns, such as “me,” “you,” “him,” “her,” “us,” and “them,” receive the action from an action verb or act as the object of a preposition.

Subjective case pronouns describe a state of being, while objective case pronouns receive the action or act as the object of a preposition.

When using the passive voice, the subject receives the action from the object, but it is generally more straightforward and preferred to use the active voice in most sentences.

Linking Verbs and the Case of Pronouns That Follow

Linking verbs, including forms of “to be” like “is” and “are,” require a pronoun or noun that renames or describes the subject, known as a predicate nominative. Consequently, the subjective pronoun “he” should directly follow the linking verb.

  1. Correct: “That is he.”
  2. Incorrect: “That is him.”
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However, when “is” serves as a helping verb for another action verb, it’s permissible to use an objective case pronoun like “him” after the verb but not immediately following it.

  1. Correct: “I believe that is him breaking the record.”
  2. Incorrect: “I believe that is he breaking the record.”

Understanding the proper use of subjective case pronouns, objective case pronouns, linking verbs, and predicate nominatives is crucial for accurate English grammar. By following these grammatical rules, you can ensure that your sentences are both correct and clear to the reader.

Common Usage of “That Is Him” in American English

In American English, the phrase “That is him” is frequently used in informal contexts when identifying a person without mentioning their name. The use of that as a relative pronoun, with the linking verb “is” connecting to “him,” makes it a popular choice among native speakers, regardless of its grammatical inaccuracies. The informal and conversational nature of this expression is often reinforced by physical gestures, such as pointing or nodding towards the person in question.

So why is “That is him” such a common phrase in American English? Informal speech thrives on simplicity and convenience, which is what the use of objective pronouns like “him” offers to speakers. The informality of this phrase makes it suitable for casual interactions between friends, family members, and colleagues, where the emphasis is on swift and clear communication rather than adhering to strict grammatical conventions.

“Did you see the guy who helped me yesterday?”
“Yes, that is him over there by the water cooler.”

As a result, in spite of its deviation from traditional grammar rules, “That is him” has become an integral part of American English vernacular, accepted and understood by millions of speakers. It allows for quick identification and association, which are essential components in the fast-paced and informal environment of daily conversations.

  • Meeting a friend’s new roommate: “Oh, that is him!”
  • Looking at a photo and recognizing someone: “I know him; that is him at the back.”
  • Spotting a celebrity in public: “Guess what? That is him, the famous actor from the TV show!”

While the use of “That is him” might not conform to formal grammar standards, its widespread use in American English demonstrates the evolution of language and how preferences shift over time. As long as the speakers can understand one another, minor linguistic discrepancies like these have little bearing on the effectiveness of communication. The key lies in recognizing the right context and adapting one’s language accordingly, whether in a formal or informal setting.

The Difference Between Formal and Informal Speech

In everyday conversations, it is common to hear the phrase “That is him.” While this expression is widely accepted in casual contexts, it does not adhere to formal grammar rules, which dictate that “That is he” is the correct usage. Understanding the distinction between formal and informal language is crucial, especially when navigating various speech registers and ensuring appropriate grammar usage.

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Newcomers to the English language often struggle to grasp the delicate balance of choosing the right level of formality for different situations. To help understand the importance of using proper language in professional settings, let’s explore the primary differences between formal and informal speech.

Formal language is characterized by its adherence to grammar rules, precise vocabulary, and clear sentence structures, while informal language is more conversational and might involve the use of slang, colloquial expressions, and unconventional grammar.

Formal language is essential in contexts such as business communications, academic works, and official dealings. Using proper grammar and adhering to standard language conventions will add credibility and professionalism to your writing or speaking. By contrast, casual conversations with friends, family, or colleagues allow for a more relaxed and less structured approach to language, such as using the phrase “That is him” instead of the grammatically accurate “That is he.”

Here are some useful tips on how to distinguish between formal and informal language:

  • Be mindful of the tone: Formal language is usually neutral and avoids excessive emotion, while informal language can be more expressive and personal.
  • Choose vocabulary wisely: Formal situations call for precise terminology, whereas informal settings allow for colloquial expressions and slang.
  • Pay attention to grammar: Proper grammar is vital in formal speech and writing. In informal contexts, minor grammar lapses may be forgiven.

As a general rule, it is advisable to use formal language in professional contexts and to reserve informal speech for casual conversations. Consistently practicing correct grammar usage will enhance your communication skills and convey your intended message with greater clarity.

Alternatives to “That Is Him” in Formal Contexts

When engaging in formal communication, it is essential to maintain grammatical accuracy and utilize formal language. In these contexts, avoiding phrases like “That is him” and opting for alternatives that adhere to traditional grammar rules is crucial. This section will discuss the correct use of nominative case pronouns and the evolving acceptance of objective case pronouns in modern English.

Using Nominative Case Pronouns Correctly

Within formal contexts, it is appropriate to use nominative case pronouns like “he” following a linking verb. There are several alternatives to the phrase “That is him” that align with traditional grammar rules:

  1. “He is the one.”
  2. “The person you are referring to is he.”
  3. “The individual in question is he.”

Each of these alternatives demonstrates correct nominative case pronoun usage and maintains the necessary formal tone in various settings, such as academic writing or professional communications.

Modern Acceptance of Objective Case Pronouns Post-Linking Verb

Language is an ever-evolving entity, and with the passage of time comes shifts in grammatical trends. Modern English has seen a gradual acceptance of objective case acceptance – specifically, using objective case pronouns like “him” following linking verbs. Even though traditional grammar rules advocate for phrases like “It is I,” the informal pronoun usage in “It’s me” has become commonplace and accepted in everyday speech.

“It’s me” has become virtually standard in informal communication despite the traditional rule advocating for “It is I.” This reflects a larger trend toward less formal word choices in today’s linguistic landscape.

The use of objective case pronouns after linking verbs, such as in the phrase “That is him,” is now widely recognized and understood. However, it is crucial to consider the context and opt for appropriate nominative case pronouns when engaging in formal communications.

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Adapting your language to suit different contexts is an essential aspect of effective communication. Utilizing nominative case pronouns correctly in formal settings demonstrates grammatical accuracy and professionalism. However, it is essential to recognize how modern grammatical trends might influence the acceptance of objective case pronouns in less formal scenarios.

Examples in Context: When and How to Use “That Is Him”

The phrase “That is him” is commonly employed in informal speech when you need to make identifications in everyday situations, such as responding to questions about who a person is or when looking at pictures. In these circumstances, its simplicity and social acceptability in American English make it a preferred choice over the more formal and technically correct “That is he.”

However, it’s essential to understand the appropriate contexts for using “That is him.” In formal settings, such as professional or academic arenas, it is crucial to adhere to traditional grammar rules and use the nominative case pronoun “he” following a linking verb. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to identify someone in a formal context, consider alternatives like “That is he” or responding with a complete sentence that maintains grammatical decorum.

While “That is him” is widely understood and accepted in informal communication, it’s important to be mindful of your audience and the setting in which you are using the phrase. Keep in mind that the English language continuously evolves, and modern linguistic trends lean toward more informal word choices. However, correctness and professionalism are still valued in certain contexts, so always choose the appropriate pronoun and expression based on the situation.

In conclusion, using “That is him” can be a simple and effective way to communicate in informal situations. However, it’s important to recognize the distinction between formal and informal speech, ensuring you use proper grammar when necessary. By understanding when to use “That is him” and when to opt for more formal language, you can confidently navigate different conversational settings and communicate effectively.

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