Hot answers tagged

121

Short answer: When in doubt, use who. It's disconcerting to hear whom where who is expected, but the usage of who in situations where previously whom was standard has been increasing, especially in spoken usage. Longer answer: The traditional rule is that whom was to be used in the "objective case". What this means in practice (it's even controversial ...


109

The easy way to tell which is technically correct is to substitute he and him for who and whom, then rearrange the word order to see which sounds right. “Who were you speaking to?” becomes “You were speaking to he” — which is clearly incorrect.


24

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 ...


20

"Whom remains in significant use following a preposition" but use in objective case is moribund. The Wikipedia article on "who" has a detailed explanation. The death of "whom" has been tracked on Language Log over the years. For example, here and here. More examples: "It's a made-up word used to trick students." "As far as I'm concerned, 'whom' is a word ...


19

It's wrong but may be about to become correct. There is really no definite answer because this is a point where the English language is changing right now. Currently there are four basic competing styles for choosing between who and whom. Who is the subject case, whom is the object case. The case of a relative pronoun is determined by its function in the ...


14

Yes, (2) is ungrammatical. You gave him the book is You gave the book to him after it goes through Dative alternation. After flipping the direct object and indirect object, the to preposition disappears. You can't do this with questions, so you need the to.


13

The difference between the who/whom debate and the preposition-ending debate is that the former has its root in a long tradition of English grammar, while the latter arose from the editorial labours of an extremely picky generation of classicists. The use of Subject/Object pronouns (who/whom, thee/thou) has largely atrophied, but until barely a century ago ...


10

Of all the style guides I have ever seen, none seem to recommend this system. For such a system to be recommended by an established style guide, it think should probably meet at least one of the following conditions: It is in current use by a large or respected group. It was in such use at a time not terribly long ago. It reflects the deeper workings of ...


10

Forgetting for a moment about the technicalities of whether it is a subject or an object, if you use the rule of thumb of trying he/him it is clear that it should be "he is entitled" not "him is entitled". As such it should be "who".


9

No, that is wrong. It should be whoever, because it is the subject of whoever has the pleasure. Don’t be distracted by the for: it’s just a decoy, for the entire clause is its object, not just the next word.


8

I'm not really sure what you mean by "dative" in English, as there isn't really an accusative/dative distinction - in situations where other languages might use a dative, either the accusative is used ("I gave him the book") or a preposition ("I gave the book to him"). However, the following might be helpful in articulating why "who" can be used, and may ...


7

In this example, it should definitely be who. A single word question like that is typically seen, grammatically, as an ellipsis for a full-sentence version, as you say. But elided words/phrases are almost always things which have already just been said, so following “He ate the entire cake,” the natural ellipsis would be “Who [ate the entire cake]?”, not ...


7

The following is my original answer, which I stand by as being logical and on the face of it applicable, though it does not seem to tell the whole story. See below for a revised answer. You are right: it should be who here. This is a simple (and fairly common) case of hyper-correction, where people who are not quite sure how to use who and whom correctly ...


7

In modern colloquial English, "who" is always okay. In your example, you have correctly applied the rule for old-fashioned and formal English -- it would be "Whom should I give the job to?", or perhaps better (in that style): "To whom should I give the job?" (But "To who should I give the job?" sounds wrong.)


7

It is grammatically incorrect. It should be "I speak of him, who is one of the best people I've met." From what I've learned, whom would be used in a situation when it is indirectly referring to someone. Such as: You gave it to whom? (i.e. You gave IT to [person]. person is not the subject, the subject is "it". so You gave it to her. etc) Who is a pronoun, ...


7

1)/You gave the book to him/ is the declarative form of: To whom did you give the book? A standard English formal form 2)/You gave him the book/ is the declarative form of: Did you give him the book That said, in colloquial spoken English, nowadays, people will often say:Who did you give the book to? for 1)


7

Saying "Whom did you give the book?" is rare seems to me an understatement; I haven't found any actual examples of sentences like this. (As far as I know, who can always be used instead of whom, so I'm treating "Who did you give the book" the same way in this answer.) Despite the rarity, I have found conflicting statements from grammar experts about whether ...


6

Here is the easy way to figure out which one is correct. If you answer the question (or substitute the statement) with 'he' and it makes sense, use 'who.' If 'him' makes sense, use 'whom.' 'Whom' and 'him' both have the letter m so that is how to remember that they go together. "Whom did you ask?" "I asked him." "Who answered the question?" "He answered ...


6

Whom to contact is the standard way of saying that. This was amply discussed in many cases on this site, including there and there.


6

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 ...


6

There is no construction in the entirety of the English language in which accusative and dative pronouns are distinguished morphologically. Therefore it seems a bit, shall we say, eccentric to make such a distinction for only the relative pronoun or interrogative "who", and I'd be willing to put good money on the fact that no usage authority sanctions such a ...


5

The distinction between cases in the English language is not as strong as it used to be, or as it still is in some other languages, such as German. Because of that, we are left with those odd words that are case-dependent, such as 'who' and 'whom', that continue to be problematic. When used in the nominative case, such as in the subject of a sentence, use ...


5

No, you don’t want a semi-colon there. A comma will do. Whom is grammatical, but so, too, would who be in an informal context.


5

Sure, it's fine. In fact, Whom is the right person to turn to? sounds downright silly, and To whom is the right person to turn? is even sillier, if possible. No native English speaker would ever say either one, at least not in the USA. The best advice about the use of whom is Don't bother to use whom. Ever, at all. Whom is dead. It's an ...


5

The name Judas is indeed the object of the phrase in which it appears. However, this has no bearing on the selection of pronoun in a subsequent phrase, where the name can be used in a different function. If you apply the "whom/him" test to the phrase where you're actually trying to use who/whom, you'll get Who is a legitimate user of the system? He ...


5

I have friends from all walks of life who/that/whom I consider my best friends. In a sentence like yours, the usage of all three relative words ("who", "that", whom") are acceptable in today's standard English. BUT, if you are taking a class, either as a native English speaker or as an EFL/ESL speaker, then you'll have to give the version that ...


4

Please find below a very short answer that agrees with Janus on most points. You owe a duty to persons *whom it is foreseeable are likely to be harmed by your conduct. If the only thing I do is replace the relative pronoun with a personal pronoun and adjust the sentences only just enough to make it work, I get this: You owe a duty to persons. It is ...


4

"Whom" is the objective or dative case of who.. The objective case is when a verb is being done to some thing. The Dative Case is for nouns that something else is given to. so: Who did that to you? (Who is the subject of the sentence) To whom did you do that? (Whom is the object of the sentence) To whom did you give that thing? (Whom is the dative) In ...


4

There are not many words in English that clearly tell us nominative or objective case. The pairs he/him and she/her are in the nominative / objective case, and may be used to tell us the answer to your question. First, one could switch the question around and make it a statement. You are staying with who/whom. Then swap in he/him for the who/whom. ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible