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I learned the rule recently. Then I was confused a little bit. The song Every lie, by My Darkest Days, has the line:

Trying to undo the love that I'm tied to. Who haven't you lied to?

as far as I understand instead of 'who' must be 'whom' or maybe I misunderstood something... or may it be an exception?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Mari-Lou A, JJJ, J. Taylor, lbf Apr 23 '18 at 1:06

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  • 'Possible duplicate?' write when you are sure, Edwin Ashworth – Eugene Chipko Apr 22 '18 at 17:54
  • Duplicate of 'What’s the rule for using “who” and “whom” correctly?' and -1 for essentially challenging ELU protocol. This is the set format, not my preferred format. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 22 '18 at 18:45
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For those people who use whom, that question would indeed be Whom haven't you lied to?

Many English speakers today do not use whom at all. Many more only use it in very formal circumstances. Few people would use it in a song lyric.

  • "For those people who use whom, that question would indeed be Whom haven't you lied to? [but] Many English speakers today do not use whom at all. " __ excellent answer in a nutshell for anybody who is wondering about who & whom! – English Student Apr 22 '18 at 11:22
  • Most people who use 'whom' would actually say "To whom have you not lied?" Which is awfully formal, pedantic and irritating to many but has the benefit of being reasonably elegant. – BoldBen Apr 22 '18 at 18:10
  • Well, I suppose some would, if they believed the old lie about there being something wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition. You clearly have a different idea of "elegant" from me. – Colin Fine Apr 22 '18 at 22:21
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The use of who and whom in standard English depends on the case; if it is in the nominative, which is the case the word "I" is in, then you would use "who" as in "Who is going to the party?". If the case is dative/accusative (usually corresponding to "me", but not always in nonstandard English) then you use "whom" as in "with whom are you going to the party?" You use "whom" after all prepositions and when it is the object or indirect object of a sentence. That said, the difference between who/whom is declining in use and you can get away with saying "who" whenever you want.

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If you are going by the rules of English that you have learned, then the song lyric is wrong.

It is like saying that "There's many problems with that." It's said by people all the time even though, grammatically, it should be "There are many problems with that."

It's good that you want to identify what's technically correct—and also how people go against that. (Although if enough people do the wrong thing, it will eventually no longer be wrong.) However, at present, no grammar text in the world will tell you that this lyric is right.

Either this lyric was used mistakenly, or it was used deliberately, with full knowledge of grammar versus culture.


A quick way of remembering it is to remember that whom pairs with him (and who pairs with he).

Correct:

Whom haven't you lied to?
You haven't lied to him."

Incorrect:

Who haven't you lied to?
You haven't lied to he."

Correct:

Who said they were going to the party tonight?
He did.

Incorrect:

Whom said they were going to the party tonight?
Him did.

Of course, this only gives you the form. If it's a woman, then the answer is her or she. But, only whom and him share the m in common.

So, consider the form of the question and answer. Either it will be whom and him or it will be who and he. And only one of those pairings will make sense.

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    There's no such thing as a "wrong" lyric, it's words set to music, it is "art". Besides, everyone, nearly, asks "Who did you see yesterday?" Instead of "whom". – Mari-Lou A Apr 22 '18 at 15:38
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    It is not "wrong". It is in everyday modern English, such as many English speakers speak. – Colin Fine Apr 22 '18 at 16:34

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