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General Writing and Grammar Help/He's my brother vs. It's my brother

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Question
Dear Ted:

Should I use "He's my brother, Joe" or "It's my brother, Joe" in the dialogue below?

A: Who's that man over there?
B: He's my brother, Joe / It's my brother, Joe.

Two more questions:

1) When identifying a person, do you say, "It's John" or "He's John"? Would you please give me some examples in which it is correct to use the first and some in which it is appropriate to use the second?

2) In the above dialogue, is it correct to use a comma before "Joe"? If so, does it imply that I have only one brother? If the comma wasn't there, would it mean that I have more than one brother?

As always, many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

I have been meaning to ask you if the Braun package arrived.  All the post office people could tell me was that it would take "several days."  Overnight delivery would be $64!

******

Should I use "He's my brother, Joe" or "It's my brother, Joe" in the dialogue
below?

A: Who's that man over there?
B: He's my brother, Joe / It's my brother, Joe.

*** Since Joe is a human being, you should use "he's" in your answer.  [Some people use "it's" but they are wrong, grammatically.

Two more questions:

1) When identifying a person, do you say, "It's John" or "He's John"? Would you
please give me some examples in which it is correct to use the first and some in
which it is appropriate to use the second?

**** Use the personal pronoun when you are referring to a people.  Use "it" when you are speaking about a thing.  There are SOME exceptions.

EXAMPLES:

A:  Mary is a very attractive girl.
B:  Do you know that she's my sister?

A:  That blue car is blocking the driveway.
B:  It's my car, and I will move it.

**** Here's an exception:

A:  Who's on the phone?
B:  IT'S my brother, Joe.



2) In the above dialogue, is it correct to use a comma before "Joe"? If so, does
it imply that I have only one brother? If the comma wasn't there, would it mean
that I have more than one brother?

*** Yes.  Without using the comma, you are saying that you have just one brother and his name is "Joe."  

A WORD OF CAUTION:  Paolo, your question and your examples are not "formal" English.  Since they are "casual," the grammatical rules are either lessened or not applied at all.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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