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Does the following sentence sound awkward because of the positioning of whom?

Beans grew up in a Roman Catholic household with four brothers; the least successful of whom was the bank president.

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Possible duplicate of [english.stackexchange.com/questions/16507/… –  Sam Oct 27 '11 at 16:02
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Can you clarify? are you concerned with the location of 'whom' in that sentence? whom vs who? or whom vs which? –  Mitch Oct 27 '11 at 16:47
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closed as not a real question by RiMMER, JSBձոգչ, ShreevatsaR, RegDwigнt Oct 27 '11 at 16:50

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2 Answers

I have no reference, but I've heard the claim that whom should be used when referring to people, and which the rest of the time.

In any case, the sentence sounds fine to me. I easily understand what the writers intention is.

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Compared to the rest of Finnegan's Wake this sentence is pellucid! –  GEdgar Oct 27 '11 at 17:09
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The OP asks if the sentence sounds awkward because of the positioning of whom. The only alternative word order is of whom the least successful was the bank president. That seems to me to give a different emphasis, suggesting that the other three brothers might have been moderately successful. By beginning the clause with the least successful, he suggests that none of them might have been up to much.

As for whom versus which, the corpus-based ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’ (based on the big Longman Grammar) says:

Especially in the written registers, there is a very strong tendency for a relative clause with a human head noun to use who rather than which

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The whom/which distinction is essentially trivial, but that's an excellent point about how the positioning of whom seems to subtly influence our assumptions as to whether the other brothers were relatively or objectively successful. –  FumbleFingers Oct 27 '11 at 17:28
    
@FumbleFingers: Thank you, and congratulations on reaching your 20,000. –  Barrie England Oct 27 '11 at 17:44
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