4

I put together a document with my findings in order to help whomever keeps working on this.

I understand that "whomever" should be used as an object, whereas "whoever" as a subject. But in the sentence above it seems to be acting as both: object for help ("help whomever") and subject for keep ("whomever keeps"). In this case, is the sentence above correct?

Also, would it be correct to use "whoever"? Argument would be the same, that it's used both as subject and object.

5
  • Since we rarely say 'whomever' (even for the object), choose 'whoever'. Nov 19, 2020 at 11:03
  • 4
    "Who(m)ever" keeps working on this" is a noun phrase in a fused relative construction, where it functions as object of "help". But in the relative clause the pronoun is subject, and hence there is a clash of functions. Despite the clash, subjective "whoever is preferable."
    – BillJ
    Nov 19, 2020 at 11:46
  • @BillJ But in other cases, objective seems preferable: to help them that keep working on this.
    – oerkelens
    Nov 19, 2020 at 12:35
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? "Put me in touch with whomever created it"?
    – herisson
    Nov 19, 2020 at 16:51
  • Does this answer your question? Is this use of whomever correct? Nov 20, 2020 at 19:24

2 Answers 2

8

It’s the clause as a whole (whoever keeps working on this) that is the object. Whoever is the subject of that clause. So it should be whoever, not whomever.

9
  • 1
    Thers's a clash of functions. The "who(m)ever" expression is not a clause but an NP in a fused relative construction. I agree that it is the object of "help", but within the relative clause fused "whomever" functions as aubject.
    – BillJ
    Nov 19, 2020 at 11:30
  • 3
    If it were this simple, you would also write to help they who keep working on this or I who keep working on this? I think the real answer to this question might be a bit more complicated than it seems at first.
    – oerkelens
    Nov 19, 2020 at 12:34
  • 2
    Not understanding this seems to be a common cause of incorrect overuse of "whom" in US English. In British English, "whom" is virtually obsolete except for set phrases like "To whom it may concern".
    – alephzero
    Nov 19, 2020 at 19:54
  • 1
    @oerkelens In your example "they" or "I" (which should be "them" or "me" of course) are the direct objects of the main clause, and "who keep working on this" is an adjectival clause (with "who" as its subject) describing the direct object. If you change the sentence to "to help John and Mary who keep working on this" is should be clear that "whom" makes no sense.
    – alephzero
    Nov 19, 2020 at 19:58
  • Time to start decluttering. This question is a multi-duplicate. Answering such is unscholarly. Nov 20, 2020 at 19:26
0

There is no clash of functions. In the sentence ,"I want to help whoever arrives first","who" is the subject of its own clause, and is in the subjective case. In this sentence, "whomever" would be incorrect.

The complete clause "whoever comes first" is the object of the verb help in the main clause.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.