Is it grammatically correct to use "who" for non-persons such as organizations, animals?

Consider a question

Q1: "Who should I feed?" and the answer

A1: "Feed the hungry, your friends and your pets."

Would the answer be grammatically correct if it includes "pets", but the question had a pronoun "who"?

A similar example:

Q2: "Who should I donate money to?"

A2: "Donate the money to the poor and to the universities."

Would the example answer be grammatically correct if it mentions universities which are organizations rather than persons?

  • 5
    Anything that can be either viewed as an agent or a group of humans, metaphoric or generic, can use who as an interrogative pronoun. That covers all your examples. Commented May 13, 2015 at 22:09
  • Surely some confusion there, Dávid. “inanimate objects” can’t include “animals” whether they’re pets or not. English often treats organizations as persons… though not in this context. As often as not, pets do get to slip through the net, yet the difference is domestic familiarity, not grammatical stricture. It’s usually desirable that answers follow questions in terms of number, tense and other qualities but they don’t have to, and certainly not with examples like “Who should I (anything)?” Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


Who or what are your basic choices here. Pets can also be considered addressed by who.

  • @ScotM: the question specifically asked about pets. Commented May 14, 2015 at 2:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.