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I'm wondering if it is possible to use 'who' in a sentence like this: 'the name of the government body who has assigned an identification number to the document.'

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    Sure, you’d be in the same company as Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth—all famous writers. You might, however, annoy a few modern complainers who think you should use who/whose to refer to people and animals only. Grammar Girl – NVZ Jun 7 '16 at 7:13
  • A "goverment body"/company etc can be thought of as a single entity or a group of people - "who" fits the latter definition. Strictly speaking, with this logic, you should say "the government body who have assigned", but this feels weird to me. – Max Williams Jun 7 '16 at 7:38
  • It's much simpler than that: "a government body," "a corporate body," "an organization," and so on are, as the OP already noted, inanimate and take which, not who. Unless the entity itself is referred to in such a way as to reflect it as a group of people (constituting the governement body, etc.). "The EPA, which has refused permission, ...;" but "The (members of the ) board of certification," who were unanimous in their opinion, ...." Also, "The police was on the look out ...; " and "The police (-men) were on the look out." – Kris Jun 7 '16 at 7:50
  • @sumelic We cannot oversimplify any more than that. – Kris Jun 7 '16 at 7:52