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I realise there has been a lot of discussion of who vs whom on these forums, but as far as I can tell none of the previous posts answer my question. Which of these sentences is (more) correct, and why?

"South American footballers, including the likes of Maradona, Garrincha, and Pelé whom I have met, are coming to the party."

OR

"South American footballers, including the likes of Maradona, Garrincha, and Pelé who I have met, are coming to the party."

Please assume that the writer isn't taking the stance that who should be used all time, but instead wishes to use whom where it would be traditionally appropriate to do so.

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Aug 12 '13 at 14:59

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    It has nothing to do with the subject being plural. – Kaiser Octavius Aug 12 '13 at 13:21
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‘Who’ does not inflect for number: it is always ‘who’ as the subject of a clause and ‘whom’ in all other contexts, whether its antecedent is singular or plural.

That said, your phrase is rather ambiguously worded (have you only met Pelé, or have you met all three, or have you met a lot of South American footballers, including Maradona, Garrincha, and Pelé? Or have you met all the South American footballers that are coming to the party). It doesn’t flow very well, and there seems to be some kind of determiner missing at the very beginning: if you remove the (I presume) parenthetical clauses, you’re left with the sentence, “South American footballers are coming to the party”, which is not incorrect, but sounds like a newspaper heading where determiners are often left out. Adding ‘many’ or ‘a lot of’ would make it sound more natural. I would suggest:

Many South American footballers are coming to the party, including the likes of Maradona, Garrincha, and Pelé, all of whom I have met.

(Assuming of course that those three were the ones you intended to single out as having met)

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If you are taking the view that you want to use whom when it's correct to do so (and not simply default to who) then...

Whom does not inflect for number, just as who does not. Whom indicates that it refers to the object of the verb.

In your examples, whom is correct [as is who, but whom does refer to the object of met, so whom can be used].

However, it is slightly ambiguous because it could refer only to Pele or to all three footballers. A viable disambiguation might be

South American footballers, including the likes of Maradona, Garrincha, and Pelé — all of whom I have met — are coming to the party.

[Note that whom in the prepositional phrase all of whom cannot be replaced by who.]

  • I assume that you say who is correct because it can be seen as the subject of are coming to the party, but the meeting and coming clauses are not parallel and are a bit ambiguous (in addition to the number ambiguity). A rephrasing seems in order. – bib Aug 12 '13 at 14:06
  • No, I'm saying that who is correct because it can be used in place of whom in the examples. It's awkward, and it's not something I would do, but that wouldn't stop who being used in speech. – Andrew Leach Aug 12 '13 at 14:16
  • Are you suggesting that who is now an acceptable form as an objective case pronoun? – bib Aug 12 '13 at 14:58
  • I'm suggesting that those of us who would rather not say that are being painted into the corner of the obsolescence of whom :-( – Andrew Leach Aug 12 '13 at 15:00

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