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Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?

She sees Mr. Robinson, whom she contends is the best she has known.

She sees Mr. Robinson, who she contends is the best she has known.

Am I right in thinking that excluding "she contends" makes "whom" wrong, and including "she contends" makes "whom" acceptable?

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    When you were typing the question title did you not notice that the other titles with "who" and "whom" that popped up? I'm curious because this is perhaps the third or fourth question in two days asking about "who" vs. "whom".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 13:48
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    Three "she's" in one sentence is a bit much. The sentence is also rather old fashioned, stuffy and overly formal. Just say "She thinks Mr. Robinson is the best person she has ever known"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 13:51
  • I researched this extensively for years on end. For some reason the "she contends" part of the context was confusing me. Couldn't find that context duplicated.
    – Debra
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 13:53
  • @Debra pity you didn't see fit to share this in-depth research. A wasted opportunity which would have explained why you were asking the question in the first place. Could you now explain why the answers in the older question do not help you?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 14:23
  • Please edit your question and explain why your question is not a duplicate.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 14:30

1 Answer 1

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Whom. Mr. Robinson is the object of the verb sees. In this sentence, whom is the pronoun used to refer to the object.

Who normally refers to the subject of the sentence, which in this case is she.

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  • The "rule" about the use of "whom" vs. "who" is based on the role that the pronoun plays in the embedded clause, not the role that it plays in the main clause. The relative pronoun in "who she contends is the best..." serves as the subject of "is", so most prescriptive grammarians call for who, not whom, here. Descriptive grammarians note that the use of whom is also been common in these circumstances, but this certainly doesn't make who incorrect, so the answer from a descriptive perspective would be that either who or whom might be used.
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 14:44
  • Am I right in thinking that excluding "she contends" makes "whom" wrong, and including "she contends" makes "whom" acceptable?
    – Debra
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 16:06

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