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I was wondering if this question is accepted grammatically:

  1. "Whom would you offer the ride?"

Some people say that the preposition 'to' should be added in this sentence:

  1. "To whom would you offer the ride?"

or,

  1. "Whom would you offer the ride to?"

Could anyone please help me?

Thanks in advance, Oodo

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  • Some people are correct. The original is probably technically valid, but sounds "off".
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 11, 2015 at 21:31
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    I suspect that there is a tendency to resist the preposing or fronting of an indirect object, which is what your first example is sorta doing: "Whom(i) would you offer __(i) the ride?" Many times, the fronting of an indirect object is significantly less acceptable than the fronting of a direct object. -- Now, your adding a "to" ("To whom would you offer the ride?") changes the construction, so that it is not an indirect object that is being fronted but rather it is a PP that is being fronted.
    – F.E.
    Jul 12, 2015 at 1:58
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    (cont.) And in that last example ("Whom would you offer the ride to?"), the complement of a PP is being fronted.
    – F.E.
    Jul 12, 2015 at 2:07

3 Answers 3

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The question is not so much about the usage of "whom", I think, but rather, the use of "to".

The verb 'offer' can have two objects ; You would offer / him / the ride. If this sentence is changed into a question, it will be like this ; Whom would you offer the ride? In this context I can't understand why Preposition 'to' should be added into this question... - tasmantiger comment above.

Indeed, in your sentence "To whom would you offer the ride?", the verb "offer" takes two objects: "whom" and "ride". The point is that one (the ride) is a direct object, while the other (whom) is an indirect object.

We can see this more clearly if the sentence is written (more simply?) with the indirect object after the verb:

You would offer the ride to whom?

Now we can see that "to" serves to identify "whom" as the indirect object. The "ride" is offered directly and has no need of a preposition. So, if we move "whom" back to the front of the sentence, it either takes its "to" with it, to show it's an indirect object...

To whom would you offer the ride?

... or (and to be more relaxed about the structure - thanks, keshlam) you can leave the "to" at the end:

Whom would you offer the ride to?

For more information, see here: Write.com - direct and indirect objects.

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  • "Whom would you offer the ride to" is also valid, so I agree that this is the correct answer.
    – keshlam
    Jul 12, 2015 at 5:48
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    Semantically speaking, to whom is the indirect object, but syntactically it is not—it's a prepositional phrase. That makes all the difference in the world (see F.E.’s comment to the question, which really is the best answer given so far). IOs and PPs have different properties and act very differently. Jul 12, 2015 at 9:30
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If you're bothering to use "whom" (correct, but formal/Standard English), the examples including "to" are preferable.

You could argue that "Whom would you give the ride?" is a construction where the "to" is simply dropped ("[To] whom would you give the ride?") and would be understood, but if you're writing in the formal/Standard English you might as well use the unambiguously correct "to whom".

"Who are you giving a ride?" is common in casual speech, but not correct Standard English. "To whom are you giving a ride?" is correct (but would sound formal when spoken). "Whom are you giving a ride?" is an unhappy medium, arguably not correct but too formal for casual use.

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    There is a sentence like this ; "Whom will you give a ride?" Why can't the question word "whom" be used as Indirect Object of the verb 'give', without using Preposition 'to'? In other words, we can analyze the above sentence having two objects ; 'you will give / whom (=IO) / a ride (=DO)', I think. Can you get what I meant? Jul 11, 2015 at 21:11
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    @tasmantiger Look at it in the case of a different sentence: "Whom are you talking?" This sentence makes no sense at all without "to". If you rearrange your original question in a statement form, it would be: "*You offer a ride to [John]." Without "to", the sentence doesn't make sense. "You offer a ride [John]."
    – Catija
    Jul 11, 2015 at 22:03
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    Hi, Catija Without "to" , the sentence does make sense. "You offer John a ride." Jul 12, 2015 at 3:50
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    @Catija Not true at all. You're misrearranging the sentence. The unfronted version of “Whom would you offer a ride?” is “You offer John a ride”, which is perfectly fine. Offer is ditransitive, which talk is not (it's intransitive in this usage), and “Whom are you talking?” is not a valid comparison. Jul 12, 2015 at 9:20
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    Also, there is no dropped to in the sentence given here—pronouns and proper names (and to a lesser degree all noun phrases) just have the innate ability to act as indirect objects. “I gave him a ride” is not an informal or shortened version of “I gave to him a ride”. Note how, in an unfronted statement, the bare indirect object normally precedes the direct object, while the marked IO (with to) acts as a bog-standard prepositional phrase and follows the DO. They're fundamentally different syntactic elements. Jul 12, 2015 at 9:25
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whom pronoun: used instead of “who” as the object of a verb or preposition. (Google)

According to traditional Latinate grammar, ‘who’ forms the subjective case and so should be used in subject position in a sentence, e.g., “who painted this?” The form whom, on the other hand, forms the objective case and so should be used in object position in a sentence, e.g., “whom do you think we should elect?” or, in the OP’s example, ”to whom would you offer the ride?"

The use of ‘whom’ has steadily and significantly declined and is now largely restricted to formal contexts. The more frequent practice in modern English is to use who instead of whom and, where applicable, to put the preposition at the end of the sentence (who would you offer the ride to?). Currently, such usage is acceptable English, but in formal writing the distinction is preferable.

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  • Um, no, that's not actually according to formal grammar; that's according to traditional Latinate grammar. Formal grammar has already consigned whom to the hospice, where its novel adaptations (like using whom instead of who as the subject of a formal request, because whom makes it more formal) are being studied by sociolinguists. Jul 11, 2015 at 20:29
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    Thank you, Eva The verb 'offer' can have two objects ; You would offer / him / the ride. If this sentence is changed into a question, it will be like this ; Whom would you offer the ride? In this context I can't understand why Preposition 'to' should be added into this question. Jul 11, 2015 at 21:39
  • I think the use of "to" is optional , not compulsory ! Jul 11, 2015 at 21:42
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    Thanks to your useful advice, my English seems to be getting better! Jul 12, 2015 at 3:58

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