7

Twitter has a "who to follow" button on the upper side of the screen. Shouldn't it be "whom to follow"?

Wikihow suggests that whom is the correct usage in a case like this.

9

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

2

Let's start by taking the truncated phrase and expanding it to a longer more recognisable sentence, while comparing it with another example of the same structure.

What to do - what is one to do? - what should one do? - what should I do?

Whom to follow - whom is one to follow? - whom should one follow? - whom should I follow?

Here, the answer would be 'you should follow her/him', which means that the 'whom' in the question is referring to the object in the answer.

That makes 'whom to follow' correct, since 'whom' should be used in objective cases and 'who' in subjective.

(since the title 'whom to follow' is not given a question mark - it could also be expanded thus, though it is a little more complicated than the example I gave at first:

What to do. - what one is to do - what one should do - this is what one should do - one should do this - you should do this

Whom to follow. - whom one is to follow - whom one should follow - he is a person whom one should follow - one should follow him - you should follow him

again, the expansion resolves itself with 'whom' referring to the object.)

2

"Whom", where it is used at all, generally belongs to a somewhat formal register, particularly when it is not used after a preposition. (I would go even further and argue that it's basically an artificial invention[1] and not even part of "natural" English.)

So one might actually argue that on Twitter, it shouldn't be "Whom to follow", because that would be of an inappropriately formal register for the context

[1] Just to clarify in view of comments below: once upon a time, English did indeed genuinely have an overt case system and any native speaker would have naturally acquired and systematically used that overt case system, just as happens in German, Dutch, Russian etc today (and just as in those languages today, there were surely some speaker-to-speaker variations 'around the edges' in precisely what case form occurred where, but as a system it was stable). But that's essentially irrelevant. As the language stands to today, I suspect that the who/whom distinction is an artificial invention.

  • 4
    The dative form of "who" is most certainly not an artificial invention. It's as venerable as it gets. Next thing you tell me, "me" is not part of "natural" English, either. – RegDwigнt Apr 4 '11 at 9:18
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    'whom' can be seen to date back as far as Old English and came from the same Germanic root as 'who' (hwa - hwam). Given how much of a mixed bag the EngLang is, I don't think it could be much more 'natural' a part than that. – Karl Apr 4 '11 at 9:22
  • "Invention" is just a weird term. Nobody invented "whom". I think you should have just stuck with describing its use as artificial nowadays. – sumelic Feb 16 '17 at 4:58
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    @sumelic The thing is that from as early as the behaviour of "who" vs "whom" has been codified in grammars, those descriptions appear to have been at odds with actual usage-- the "artificiality" isn't really a new phenomenon. Now... if you don't like the word "invention" to describe that scenario, then substitute another word that suits you... – Neil Coffey Feb 18 '17 at 20:51
0

It should be "whom to follow?" as who to follow means like some bode else will follow you in fact the question is opposite "whom do you want to follow". Twitter is not a small program to make such small mistakes. Or this small mistake makes the twitter a small program.

protected by Andrew Leach Jan 6 '18 at 0:12

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