In a grammar book, there were two examples used to clarify the difference between who and whom, and to show that who can be used as the informal form of whom, and there would be no difference in meaning. The examples were:

  1. Bob is the young man whom she interviewed. (she interviewed whom/him)

  2. Bob is the young man who she interviewed. (informal)

It's stated that the second sentence is informal, but our teacher insists that in the second sentence Bob interviewed her (that is, the woman)!

Can anyone tell me which one is true? Is it just informal or does the meaning change? Is the woman always the interviewer, or do the roles switch in the second sentence so that now he interviews her instead of vice versa?

  • 1
    of interest: english.stackexchange.com/a/57471/194281 Jul 23 '17 at 17:20
  • 2
    I don’t see any way to get the second meaning from the second sentence; it would have to be “Bob is the young man who interviewed her.”
    – Scott
    Jul 23 '17 at 17:24
  • 5
    Your teacher is completely and utterly wrong, and clearly not a native speaker of English. Who(m) is optionally marked for non-subject case in most contexts, but personal pronouns like she/her are mandatorily marked for non-subject case in all contexts. So you can choose whether to use who or whom (or nothing at all, usually) as the object of a verb, but you cannot, under any circumstances, ever use she instead of her as the object of a verb. Jul 23 '17 at 17:30
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    Once we see 'she interviewed,' we know who took that action. We also commonly say "Bob is the young man she interviewed." Jul 23 '17 at 17:30
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    Incredible that a teacher would make this kind of error. It would be curious to know what they're using as a reference to arrive at this kind of confusion.
    – Xanne
    Jul 23 '17 at 18:10

Both sentences mean the same. The first is the sort of English used by purists, and the second is modern English, seen in daily usage.

Your teacher, without doubt, is wrong.

  • Yes.. the book said so, and I myself thought the same way.. anyway, I wanted to make sure of it. Thank you for your help !
    – user249096
    Jul 23 '17 at 19:54

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