As far as my little German goes, translation for this should be:

Es ist ich.

But here it says:

Ich bin’s.

Is my translation correct?

5 Answers 5


No. It isn't. The correct translation is

Ich bin es (i.e. Ich bin's)


Das bin ich.

In this sentence, the subject in German is "ich", and not the third person, as in your translation. Note that in German, you don't have to capitalize ich.

I wouldn't try to translate everything from English so literally, for you will see soon how peculiar is the order of the elements in sentence.

  • I thought like Always me! translates to Immer ich! so this should be same.
    – mihirjoshi
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 20:10
  • 5
    @mjosh Why should it be the same? Immer ich! does mean Always me! but translated word-for-word you'd get Always I!
    – Dustin
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 4:25
  • 1
    @mjosh Literal translations do sometimes work between English and Germans, but often they don't. Don't rely on them!
    – elena
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 7:21
  • @Dustin: no, the English object of I is me. SPO!
    – äüö
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 20:58
  • @falkb I guess it's a good thing we're answering a question about German then, isn't it?
    – Dustin
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 2:56

Usually, It's me would be translated as Ich bin es when asked Who is it? (like on the phone or at the door), so c.p.'s answer about says it all.

I'd just like to add another connotation in the slightly varied context of asking Is it just me, or ..., which would be translated as Geht es nur mir so, oder ... or Liegt es an mir, oder ..., and not as Bin es nur ich, oder....


Literally it's me would be Es ist ich. --> It is me. Flipping this around in German goes to: Ich ist es. --> Me is it. But in German the correct form of "sein" related to "ich" is "bin". The result is: Ich bin es. Shortened to: Ich bin's.

  • No, „Ich ist es“ would be „I is it“, both wrong of course.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 23:55
  • @Carsten Schultz: SPO! The English object of ich is always me, the subject is I. So he's right, after abstract flipping to OPS it's "Me is it".
    – äüö
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 20:56
  • I may have misunderstood the argument, because it is hard to tell what subject and object are in an ungrammatical sentence. I had assumed that in “Ich ist es” the subject is “Ich”. Otherwise I would not know how he gets from there to “Ich bin es” by just substituting the correct form of “sein”.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 22:16

You should note that this is a grammatically peculiar construction anyway as you can see from the discussions on whether it should be “it is me” or “it is I” in English. For some reason

Es ist ich.

(how do I mark incorrect grammar?) does not work at all in German. Neither does

Es ist du.

On the other hand

„Wer ist gekommen?“ „Es ist der Weihnachtsmann!“

is correct, and in the same way you could correctly say

Es ist er.

The latter sounds a bit strange, though. I am not quite sure why it is this way. I imagine that although here „es“ is technically the subject, „er“ is the secret subject.

  • 4
    "how do I mark incorrect grammar?" In der Sprachwissenschaft wird oft ein Sternchen vorangestellt, um einen Satz als ungrammatisch zu kennzeichnen: *Es ist mich. Allerdings bedeutet er eigentlich nicht direkt "ungrammatisch", sondern "so nicht belegt", und wird deshalb in der historisch-vergleichenden Sprachwissenschaft auch für rekonstruierte Formen verwendet, bei denen man davon ausgeht, daß es sie gab. Außerdem kennen sicher viele die Konvention nicht. Deshalb ist es wohl am besten, einfach dazuzuschreiben, wie es um die Formulierung bestellt ist.
    – chirlu
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 6:35
  • 1
    Well, the three cases you are describing in your answer are simply based on how the verb sein (to be) is conjugated: ich bin, du bist, er/sie/es ist. So due to that you can not say es ist ich or es ist du, but es ist er. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 10:26
  • Thorsten, note that “es” is the subject, so “es ist..” should be correct.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 11:28
  • Es ist er? Want to curl my toe nails? All fine and dandy though: Er ist's. Er its es. Er ist das. Das ist er. Of het is er in het Nederlands. Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 22:31
  • „Wer klopft da?”
  • „Ich bin's.“
  • „Ach! Du bist's!“
  • „Gott sei Dank war sie das!“
  • “Knock-knock!” – “Who's there?” – “Boo!” – “Bu Who?” – “Oh, quit crying!” Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 22:19
  • Can someone explain the German joke?
    – RJH
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 18:28

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