I have spent quite a lot of time to understand and correctly use the confusing words, whoever and whomever. What I have learned so far through various materials, StackExchange was especially helpful, is that we use whoever when the structure of a sentence seems to be nominative(he) and whomever when the structure of a sentence seems to be accusative(him).

Sometimes, there would be structures like both nominative and accusative are meant. I think these structures are called "fused relative," and in this case, we would have "free choice."

I'd appreciate if you could tell me whether my understanding of this issue is right or not.

Now, please take a look at the sentence below.

Latex Technologies is offering free trial versions of its new database to ________ has a current subscription.

The only options to fit in the blank are whoever and whomever. Is this what a fused relative look like? Therefore, I have the free choice? Or, is there a certain evidence that makes to choose one of the two?

1 Answer 1


This is a tricky issue that has engendered interesting discussions among the venerable contributors to this site. See, for example, the answers to a similar question:

The issue is treated in typical forthright Follet fashion in his entry on who(m), who(ever) in Modern American Usage (p443).

The objective form of the pronoun who is having a hard time asserting its hereditary rights. On one side it suffers the mistreatment of those who will put in the m where it does not belong, out of fear of being thought uneducated; on the other, it is belabored by emancipated grammarians who find it bookish and affected in most uses and favor almost any construction that avoids it. Between those who are afraid of sounding ignorant and those who are afraid of sounding superior, whom falls into comparative disuse and causes increasing discomfort in its users.

After a long, entertaining entry in which Follet analyses the use and misuse use of who/whom, he turns to whoever/whomever.

Who(m)ever, meaning any person who(m), is regulated by the same principles that govern whom. It is, of course, subject to the same confusions: ...answered that not only did Henry mean to maintain [the peace] but that he would wage war with all his might on whomever should be the first to violate it. Here the object of wage war on is not who(m)ever, but the whole following clause, of which the subject is necessarily whoever.

The sentence that Follett analyses here is of the same structure as:

Latex Technologies is offering free trial versions of its new database to ______ has a current subscription.

In other words, the who(m)ever needs to be fitted in following a prepositional relative clause. It is clear that Follett would recommend whoever here. And I agree. It would also please the 'emancipated grammarians' that frequent this site.

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