Bad grammar in Narnia?

I was reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and I read this passage-

“Come out, Mrs. Beaver. Come out, Sons and Daughters of Adam. It’s all right! It isn’t Her!’ This was bad grammar of course, but that is how beavers talk when they are excited.”
Could someone tell me where the grammatical mistake is please?

Total WAG - Maybe more correct but less colloquial would be “It isn’t she?”

That’s what I always thought too. Of course, most people (especially North Americans) talk that way even when they’re not excited now. :slight_smile:

Yeah, theoretically it ought to be “she.” But nobody ever says it that way anyhow. I’m guessing that this is because in Latin, if you have a sentence that uses a linking verb, the predicate verb is in the nominative case. So if you carry that over into English, as grammarians loved to do in the old days, you would be saying things like:

It is I.
Is it he?
Is that she?
It was they.

I hear it used correctly over the phone, at least:
“Hello, may I please speak with Mrs. Throatwarbler Mangrove?” “This is she”.

Maybe he’s being criticized for not saying “Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve” but that’s not grammar.

And “***Mrs. ***Beaver”??? Are beavers allowed to marry now? Must be that slippery slope I’ve heard of.

Beavers mate for life, why can’t they get married?

And of course in French the verb “to be” doesn’t take the subject or the direct object, but the indirect object: you don’t say “C’est je” nor “C’est me” but “C’est moi”.

Yes, it’s the “her” rather than “she” thing. Lewis was of the generation that was raised to apply certain rules ultimately derived from Latin grammar to English (the predicate of “to be” should be in the nominative case). Although I know a few people who maintain that rule today, it sounds artificial to me.

The fact that French does NOT do this was given above; does anybody know what case “to be” took in Old or Middle English?

“Moi” doesn’t have the function of an indirect object either in your sentence. If I remember correctly my grammar classes, it is said to be the “real subject” of the impersonal verb, while “C’” would be the “apparent subject”. Of course I could be totally wrong, and in any case the pronoun doesn’t take the subject form.

It is possible in French to have indirect objects without prepositions, but it would be in sentences such as “ça me plaît” (“it pleases me”). Here, “me” is the indirect object of this impersonal verb.

How does “me” manage to be the indirect object in this instance? :dubious:

You could (awkwardly) rewrite the sentence “ça me plaît” as “ça plaît à moi”, with the preposition. “Plaire” is an indirect transitive verb in French, compare with “ça plaît à mon père”, “it pleases my father”.

I mate for life, but I can’t get married. And I live in the Beaver State.

If I were writing a formal letter giving a snooty address, I would use all of those and often do so on the phone also. Their use has not totally faded. Many of my friends use them in more formal situations.

Yes, they sound stilted. They did when I was a child too. If we could choose what sounds right, teachers wouldn’t have to give those proficiency tests in English.

When I am locked out of the hotel room and have to knock on the door to get in, I don’t tell my husband, “It is I,” though. It works better if I tell him that I am Twinkle LaRue.

The one that makes me laugh is “Woe is I.” There is a book with that title.