Can "Je suis" stand alone?
"Who is taking out the trash?" "I am."
There's something here no one mentioned yet. In English, you can say "I am" because the question uses the verb "to be" (Who is taking...). This is not the way one would express this question in French. The progressive tenses don't have a proper equivalent in French (one needs an adverbial construction which is much less used than the progressive in English : être en train de + infinitive). The French way to ask this is : Qui sort les vidanges ?. To which one could answer : Moi (Me), Je le fais / Je vais le faire (I'm doing it / I'll do it) or Je les sors/ Je vais les sortir (I'm taking them out / I'll take them out). You simply can't answer to a question that was asked using a verb with a completely different verb (an action verb changed to a state verb for example), in any language.
Not really. You can't translate this word-for-word (you can seldomly do that). In French, you could say simply moi.
That's exactly what I thought about when I saw the question :) very specific case but a proof that "être" is not always transitive
Thanks guys! Transitive...that was the property I was thinking of...
No. Être is a transitive verb, it requires a complement. It is better, instead of "Je suis", you use "Moi".
Être is listed as intransitive in every dictionary I've checked. Isn't Je suis the the most general answer to the question: what are you doing?
Grammatical terminology differs between langauges, between perspectives (linguistic, pedagogical, etc.), between time periods. But the verb to be in English is usually considered to be followed by a subject complement, not an object, so it wouldn't be considered transitive. At least that's the most typical terminology in English teaching.
On the contrary: être is the copula (strictly speaking neither transitive nor intransitive), which for all practical purposes can be considered intransitive. A transitive verb can take a direct object. "To be" cannot--it expresses (a) equivalency or existence, or (b) is used as an auxiliary in cases like "I am taking out the trash." I see you have studied some German. You must have noticed that in a sentence like "I am a man/the teacher/your friend," all the words are in the nominative case.
The reason that English used "I am" in the example given by OP is, as BastouXII pointed out, because it echoes the use of "to be" as an auxiliary in the question "Who IS taking out the trash?" Since French does not use this construction in the question, it does not use it in the answer either. It is perfectly correct to have "je suis" stand alone as a declaration of existence. "Je pense, donc je suis" is of course the most famous example.
Amazing explanation. Thank you....Your answer does seem to imply equivalence in French with regard to être.
In that case; would this be correct?
"Oui, je suis."
"Oui, je suis."
I'm not entirely sure why but my gut feeling is to make them correct you have to repeat the object.
"Oui, je suis rouge/John"
If you could clarify that would be incredible. Thanks!
As I said to Coby_Hughes down below, yes, you have to repeat the object / subject (depending how you see that, since être is a copula). But you can replace it with a pronoun. In your examples, it would make the answers Oui, je le suis.
I always use to refer to myself as "Moi" and had know idea that it was even French for "me." Now that I do, I find it even more fascinating! <3