Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is this correct?

The person with whom I'm doing the project should be here soon.

If it is, is with always a dative preposition (like mit in German)?

share|improve this question
1  
The sentence is correct. Also, it seems that "with" is a dative preposition like "mit". "with him", "with them", "with us", etc. –  Suvrit Jan 4 '11 at 13:54
6  
I would just go with "The person I'm doing the project with should be here soon." :) –  Kosmonaut Jan 4 '11 at 15:38
    
Upvoting Kosmonaut's comment. Your sentence is absolutely correct - but it does sound a lot fussier and more pedantic than people like in modern, idiomatic English... –  thesunneversets Jan 4 '11 at 18:12

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

When "who" is the object of the preposition, as in this case, it becomes "whom"; granted, this is archaic and often ignored in informal conversation. You'll often hear people say things like, "Who should I give this to?" It would be correct to say "Whom should I give this to?" or even (if you're really fussy) "To whom should I give this?" But almost no one bothers with that these days. Note that reversing the word order makes the incorrect grammar stand out: "I should give this to who?" That's because there is now a direct apposition with the preposition and its object. Most careful speakers will use "to whom" in that context.

You can remember when to use "who/whom" by substituting "he/him" in the sentence. You wouldn't say "I'm doing the project with he," you would say "I'm doing the project with him." So it's obvious that whom is the pronoun you would use here, not who.

A further word about German/English prepositions. In German some prepositions can be dative or accusative, depending on whether they indicate motion or placement towards or up to a location. This not the case (no pun intended) in English. In English, the object of the preposition always takes the "prepositional" case. Note that there are not nearly as many inflectional changes or pronoun substitutions in English as in German. The point is, German is not necessarily useful for analogizing English constructions.

share|improve this answer
2  
The mad down-voter strikes again! Again with no comment! –  Robusto Jan 4 '11 at 15:03
1  
I think it is a matter of definition whether to use one or three cases when describing English nouns. The mere fact that the difference is invisible does not necessarily mean that three terms are useless. Although the trend in linguistics seems to be to break with older terminology as much as possible, and use one term for one form, I don't see why this should always be the way to go. What use is it to condemn "imperative" and "infinitive", and force everyone to use "base verb" or something? [/rant] [/sorry] –  Cerberus Jan 4 '11 at 15:15
1  
Oh dear, and mad he is indeed! I will vote you up to zero then. –  Cerberus Jan 4 '11 at 15:16
1  
You can use German as a guide as long as you only look at dative and accusative prepositions, and consider them both to be collapsed together in English (in terms of how the words get case marking). So German prep. takes dative/accusative -> English takes whom/him/them/ etc. But German has some genitive prepositions that definitely aren't genitive in English, so you can't trust those. –  Kosmonaut Jan 4 '11 at 15:26
    
Great answer +1 –  Wadih M. Jan 4 '11 at 17:49

In your case, the person is the object of the sentence, while I'm is the subject. Even though the sentence has a questionable structure, it's correct

This article does a remarkable job explaining when to use who and whom.

To know whether to use who or whom, we need to talk about the difference between subjects and objects because you use who when you are referring to the subject of a clause and whom when you are referring to the object of a clause

.

share|improve this answer
    
I would appreciate you comment on the answer before you bluntly downvoted it. Thanks –  Anderson Silva Jan 4 '11 at 13:56
    
I didn't downvote your answer. –  sombe Jan 4 '11 at 13:57
    
I wasn't referring to you at all -- only to an impostor who perpetrated this evil deed. thx –  Anderson Silva Jan 4 '11 at 14:10
1  
"The object of a clause" seems to exclude the object of a preposition. Perhaps you could add that to make it complete. –  Cerberus Jan 4 '11 at 14:32
    
The downvote was given because (I suspect) some people don't regard "Grammar Girl" to be an authoritative voice. A vote dictated by prejudice more than anything else. There is nothing incorrect with the answer given by Anderson Silva. –  Mari-Lou A Jul 29 '13 at 5:26

Here is a really easy way to deal with case and prepositions:

If the the preposition is directly modifying the noun, then the noun is always* accusative/dative. And, since accusative and dative forms both look like whom, you know it should always be whom (if you are using whom at all).

*There is one major exception to the prep. phrase rule: of sometimes takes the genitive case ("friend of his"); however, this never shows up with who (there is no "friend of whose", just "whose friend").


It is worth also noting that whom is falling out of use, and so who could theoretically be used everywhere when speaking in a register that doesn't use whom.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Jun 30 at 16:36

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.