Is it grammatically possible to say something like this?:

He was who who he was.

It sounds wrong and it surely doesn't make sense, but could it technically work?


  • Do you mean pronouns in general? Personal pronouns are I, he, they etc. but you used who in your example. who is an interrogative and a relative pronoun.
    – Hypnoxas
    Apr 21 '16 at 8:18
  • Yes, relative pronouns - that was a mistake
    – SheepTamer
    Apr 21 '16 at 8:19

Do not repeat the who and it works.

He was who he was

is correct. Popeye the Sailor Man is famous for his line "I yam what I yam" [I am what I am]--this works the same way.

"Was" is a linking verb, which is often said to work like an equals sign. So "He = who he was," or "He = the person he was," which makes perfect sense (with the "=" meaning "equaled" rather than "equals").

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