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I happened to watch a lecturer was explaining word order of English in the beginners’ English learning course in NHK’s - Japan’s largest and publicly-owned broadcasting network – educational TV program (aired on July 23rd). He showed four cubes, each of which showing the word, “Who”, “You” “Help” “Do” placed at random, and asked students to put the cubes in the right order:

Right answer: Who Do You Help?

I was comfortable with “Who do you help (speak / give / write, and so on) too, but a question arose:

Is “Whom do you help?” grammatically wrong or, obsolete? If so, why is it wrong, how and around when it became obsolete?

I’ve never seriously thought of such question as the declension of a dative pronoun in interrogative form until I hit upon the above TV scene. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I ventured to post a beginner’s question.

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    They're both grammatical, but the use of whom has declined in modern English, to the point where substantial portions of the speech community actually follow different rules for its use because they use it so seldom. Since Anglophone schools teach their students nothing about English grammar (except what to avoid, for no reason anybody ever mentions), people have pretty much given it up as too much trouble. Consider: when you start a clause with whom, you're announcing that an object of some kind is coming up, though you haven't even given the verb yet. That takes a lot of processing. Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 1:56
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    It's a beautifully composed question but it's been asked so so many many times before. I'm confused, have you never read any of these answers?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 9:53
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    Related and closed for being a duplicate: Who do you want to talk to? Whom do you want to talk to? and this Q: Dative whom with accusative who The only significant difference between these questions and yours is that you're asking "why".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 10:00
  • @Mari-Lou. I appreciate your usual attention to my post. I haven'’t used to check other users’ posts before posting a question. I don’t know how to do it. I've always puzzled how you guys could find a single duplicate out of the sea of past questions. I come to know that my question duplicates with previous posts only when alerted by other users, or when I find a caption of the similar question in the “Related” box on the right hand of the page, which I noticed today for the first time.The present post was simply triggered by coincidence of my watching a lesson on Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 11:03
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    Possible duplicate of What’s the rule for using “who” and “whom” correctly? Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 19:47

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In a comment, John Lawler wrote:

They're both grammatical, but the use of whom has declined in modern English, to the point where substantial portions of the speech community actually follow different rules for its use because they use it so seldom. Since Anglophone schools teach their students nothing about English grammar (except what to avoid, for no reason anybody ever mentions), people have pretty much given it up as too much trouble. Consider: when you start a clause with whom, you're announcing that an object of some kind is coming up, though you haven't even given the verb yet. That takes a lot of processing.

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"Whom do you help?" is correct. But many English speakers use "who" wherever they should use "whom".

References:

Link

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/who-vs-whom-its-not-as-complicated-as-you-might-think/

https://www.diffen.com/difference/Who_vs_Whom

https://www.dummies.com/education/language-arts/grammar/choosing-when-to-use-who-and-whom/

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    By "should", you probably mean "could". Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 7:46
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    Indeed "could" not "should". The only people speaking British English who would use "whom" in that sentence are pedants. "Whom" seems to linger on more in US English - along with other things that have been obsolete in BrE for hundreds of years, like "gotten".
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 9:15
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    Please consider adding references, citations, etc. This will make your answer infinitely more helpful and better-supported.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 10:06
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    @alephzero I ~regularly talk to a British barrister who still uses whom. So you're wrong. (When I asked him about it, he said he's not being pedantic at all; in fact he makes spelling mistakes/typos all the time, for instance, and his speech isn't very formal either.)
    – user71740
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 11:08
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    @alephzero I still say "gotten", and sometimes "whom", and although I'm sometimes a pedant I don't feel that I am deliberately being one on those occasions. I'm also note hundreds of years old yet (working on it!) Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 16:34
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It is grammatically correct. In spoken English in Ireland and the UK it is actually over-correct and can sound either pedantic or ironic. In the U.S. and Australia, however, I've been told it is more commonly used in speech.

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  • But overcorrection is itself an error. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 13:55
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First off, "whom do you help" is technically correct because 'who' is the object in that sentence, and 'who' gets inflected to 'whom' when it is the object.

However 'Whom' is an interesting word in the English language. It is a remnant from a time (old English probably) when nouns were inflected. English pronouns are the only system that retains this archaic rule, which is now non-productive, ie all new nouns coined are not inflected based on their role in the sentence.

Like others have said, it would sound pedantic or ironic in casual conversation. Personally I consider it obsolete in all informal conversations, and even most formal conversations. Others disagree and stick to grammar rules assiduously.

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  • Whom is a pronoun, not a noun. And personal pronouns still have a few inflections in English. Nouns don't. Commented Oct 1, 2022 at 16:43
  • but the fact that ordinary nouns have no such distinction proves that the distinction in the pronouns is in fact useless Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 11:42
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because modern english is an analytical language that relies on word order for grammer; old english was an inflected language where nouns where extensively declined; but the inflections have been mostly lost; other then a few vestiges in the pronouns; and make no mistake; those vestiges are useless; old english could vary the word order and say the same thing; but modern english; even when the vestiges are in a sentence; cannot; for example if someone says "him see I"; that sentence probably sounds like an uneducated mess to you; it does to me; but not for the tiniest fraction of a second do you think that i was saying "I saw him" and using unusual word order; no native english speaker would think that; proving that you are actually relying on the word order; not the pronoun only case forms; in languages where all nouns have case that is possible; english is in the process of loosing its cases; and "whom" is the next to go in that process; if you think it is a usefull distinction; then use all 5 old english cases as declined in beowulf.

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