I saw the following sentence:

Sally, who I saw in town yesterday, is a friend of my sister.

But I think it should use whom instead of who, since Sally is the guy I saw, so why not use whom?

  • Yes, you can use whom. You can also use who. So we can't say why the author chose one and not the other. Maybe it was a deliberate decision, maybe they gave it no thought at all, maybe it is a typo. All of that is equally possible. – RegDwigнt Oct 24 '18 at 9:38
  • In formal situations, use "whom". Elsewhere both are correct. – BillJ Oct 24 '18 at 12:47

You're correct; it should be "whom." It's just that the word "whom" has fallen out of favor and isn't always used. Modern style guides accept "who" in all but a few specific cases.

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Sally, who I saw in town yesterday, is a friend of my sister.

PS: Modern stylists now suggest that it is also ok to use who when uncertain. But in your example, it is definitely 'who'.

You can check out some reputed sites such as grammarly which elucidate the usage of who and whom:

The Difference Between Who and Whom

How can you tell when your pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition? Try substituting “he” or “she” and “him” or “her.” If “he” or “she” fits, you should use who. If “him” or “her” fits, you should use whom. Keep in mind that you may have to temporarily rearrange the sentence a bit while you test it.

Who/whom ate my sandwich?

Try substituting “she” and “her”: She ate my sandwich. Her ate my sandwich. “She” works and “her” doesn’t. That means the word you want is who.

Whom ate my sandwich?

Who ate my sandwich?

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  • Both sentences are correct, but they differ stylistically. – user307254 Oct 24 '18 at 9:48
  • Who is informal /colloquial/, but whom is formal /bookish/. – user307254 Oct 24 '18 at 9:50
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    The substitution in this sentence would be "I saw her in town yesterday." So "whom" would be acceptable/"correct". – herisson Oct 24 '18 at 10:01

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