I take it for granted we all know when to use the relative pronouns "who" and "whom". And we also know that since the early nineteenth century there has been a steady decline in the use of "whom" especially in speech, and people tend to use "who" most of the times. Let's assume, however, that someone is writing a formal letter and that he prefers to use "whom" whenever possible. He got stuck on these two sentences:
- They chose the candidate who they thought would have the best initiative.
- They chose the candidate whom they thought would have the best initiative.
If "whom" is the right relative, he will have no problem using "who" because it's also acceptable. But if the right relative is "who", then it would be a mistake to use whom. My question is: "In the above sentence, is the relative pronoun the object of "thought" or is it the subject of "would have".
PS I'm aware that some scholars advise against asking questions about "whom" because "who" is the relative pronoun most people use. But I understand it is not obsolete and is still used by a few people, in formal speech, in documents, etc, especially in the UK.