8

So sad to lose you, yet happy for whomever has the pleasure of working with you next.

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    Curious to know the context of this sentence; was it in a formal letter wishing someone well at the end of their employment with you? A semi-formal email? Spoken? The context doesn't affect the "correctness" of "whomever"; I am curious because it seems to me that the omission of the subject "I" is becoming more common... – Rusty Tuba Aug 1 '13 at 0:08
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    Your example involves a fused relative construction. Any choice you make here will probably be dubious or at best questionable, due to the conflicting case requirements on "who(m)ever" that are being made by the matrix clause and the relative clause. Though, if a choice had to be made, then "whoever" is usually preferable in sentences like yours. – F.E. Jan 10 '14 at 22:31
11

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.

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    Basic rule: don't ever use whom (or whomever). It can be used correctly, but only in a few cases. Most people use it wrong, and it's never required. So forget about it. It's as dead as thou, thee, thy, thine, hath, doth, and goeth, which most people also use infrequently and almost always incorrectly. – John Lawler Aug 1 '13 at 0:41
  • @JohnLawler Do you dismiss entirely this paper from Oxford Dictionaries? blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2013/03/… – WS2 Jan 10 '14 at 16:22
  • I hadn't seen it, so I didn't dismiss it, even entirely. Yet. Now, having read it, I note that several perfectly grammatical sentences are marked as "technically incorrect" with who, and several ungrammatical sentences with whom are also marked that way. So this is not about grammaticality. This is about somebody's official rules, which the author takes for granted, rather than citing. How does she get the Authority to do this? She is an EFL teacher and ex-lexicographer, that's how. Sorry, it's just more fulmination (though nicely written). – John Lawler Jan 10 '14 at 17:11
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    As P.J. O'Rourke has remarked, "Opinions about grammar are as interesting as opinions about arithmetic." – John Lawler Jan 10 '14 at 17:12
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    There's only one construction English in which whom must be used, and that's when it is the object of a preposition which immediately proceeds it. Here, as pointed out, it appears after a preposition, but is not its object. This is an artificially-created construction, requiring Pied-Piping of the preposition, as well as movement of whom, to the beginning of the relative or interrogative clause. Stranding the preposition at the end is far more common, and eliminates the need for whom. Ever. – John Lawler Jan 10 '14 at 17:20
2

Regarding the interpretation that the entire clause following preposition "for" is the object of the preposition "for":

"For" needs a noun object, which can be either a word or a noun clause. But "who(m)ever" is a relative pronoun, so the clause in which it occurs is not a noun clause unless written in the rather awkward form "I am happy for someone's having the pleasure, etc...," where "having" is a gerund, i.e. a verbal noun. To have a more fully idiomatic noun clause following verb "am happy," drop the preposition and insert "that," as in "I am happy THAT someone has the pleasure ...." It's a different construction from the original "...happy for whoever has ...," and expresses a different meaning.

"whoever" / "whomever" is a compound relative pronoun, which combines into one word both an implied generic antecedent meaning "anyone" (referenced as "-ever") and the simple relative pronoun ("who," "whom"), to mean "anyone who," "anyone whom."

In " ... happy for whoever has the pleasure ...," "whoever" is correct because the relative pronoun is the subject of verb "has;" but that does not make the entire clause the object of "for." The object of "for" is the implied generic antecedent "anyone," expressed as "-ever" in the compound relative pronoun "whoever." This is awkward for syntactic analysis, but absence of explicit antecedent, as object of preposition "for," does not require, much less justify distorting the syntactic character of the entire following clause.

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