Sir Reginald Wingate, a British general, is said to have described the Bedouin as “an untrained rabble, most of whom have never fired a rifle.”

Should it not have been "who" instead of "whom" in that sentence fragment?

Google search for "most of who have" returns about 2,70,00,000 results. While a similar search for "most of whom have" returns about About 70,20,000 results. I understand though, from Laurel, that a more reliable approach would be to either consult the Corpus of Contemporary American English or Google Ngram Viewer.

The problem with the sentence fragment is that it does not sound right substituting "who"/"whom" with "he"/"him".

  • 2
    Google search's estimates are never accurate. See Discourage using number of Google results as a source. for more info.
    – Laurel
    Feb 28, 2019 at 13:14
  • I am inclined to agree with your comment. I was also looking at another post which prompted me to look at Google results which, as you pointed out, may not be the best way to go about looking for answers in this case.
    – Fruitjam
    Feb 28, 2019 at 13:32
  • 1
    Are you writing/speaking things for use by current English speakers? Then there's no need to use whom at all (and the great majority of people don't). Are you interested in how people used to do it? Use 'whom whenever it's a direct or indirect object (like after a preposition like 'to').
    – Mitch
    Feb 28, 2019 at 14:34
  • As Mitch says, most native speakers rarely use whom at all. To the extent that they do use it, though, this precise context (as the object of a preposition) is by far the most common one. Even if they don’t use whom in most contexts where it’s possible, a lot of people would use it in this context. Feb 28, 2019 at 17:50
  • When it is the object of an immediately preceding preposition, who obligatorily becomes whom. This is the only context in which whom is required. And the only way who gets there is if the preposition has been Pied-Piped from its original position along with the who. In this case it's the whole determiner phrase most of that's been moved, not just of. Pied Piping can go on forever, practically. Feb 28, 2019 at 20:40

1 Answer 1


Instead of using Google search to find frequencies (which is always laughably inaccurate), you can use a tool like English-corpora.org. I used the Corpus of Contemporary American English and searched for most of who* have (where who* matches words that start with "who", including "who" itself). The results are clear: there are 108 hits for "most of whom have" and none for anything else. Google NGrams gives similar results.

For this sentence it sounds at least slightly odd either way to "substitute he and him for who and whom" to figure it out (as moioci suggests). Instead, you can substitute they and them for who and whom (the same method, but with plurals):

...most of they/them have never fired a rifle.

In this sentence, only "them" sounds right.


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