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In the sentence, “The dog gave me, who feeds him, a lick”, feeds does not agree with the person of the antecedent to who. I know that a verb used with a relative pronoun has the same number and person as the noun or pronoun to which the relative refers. Me is first person, yet it sounds incorrect to write, “The dog gave me, who feed him [I feed him], a lick”. What is my problem?

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The verb of the subordinate clause (to feed) should agree with the noun in the same clause (who). Not with the indirect object of the main clause (me). Also, 'who' is, in my opinion, a strange relative pronoun to use for this sentence. I'd use 'the one' in this case.

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  • Using "the one," then, the sentence would read, "The dog gave me, the one who feeds him, a lick." I'd prefer, "The dog gave me a lick, because I'm the one who feeds him" (although it sounds as if the dog has an ice cream cone and is letting me try it!). Or, "The dog licked me because I'm the one who feeds him." Or, "The only reason the dog licked me is because I'm the one who feeds him." Mar 24, 2013 at 0:55
  • @rhetorician: For each alternative, there is a (sometimes unusual) context in which it works. Mar 24, 2013 at 1:41
  • But is who plural or singular in this case? The word who can be either. It can even be first person: "I who am singing these lines today / Will be tomorrow the enigmatic corpse" (Borges, translated by Updike). Mar 24, 2013 at 15:53

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