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How to use “who” vs. “that”
‘Which’ applied to brute animals

Is the use of "who", as applied to non-human animals, ever considered grammatically correct? Would it be correct to refer to a cat as "the same cat who I saw yesterday" instead of "the cat that I saw yesterday", or is this considered incorrect?

  • As a side-note, I think this grammatical issue might be contentious among some animal rights advocates. :) Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 6:25
  • I have also seen phrases like "the person that I saw yesterday" being used in colloquial and informal English, instead of "the person who I saw yesterday". Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 6:27
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    @MετάEd This question addresses one specific case of that question, which addresses a much broader issue. Is it still considered a duplicate? Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 6:32
  • The answer to the broader question answers your question also. In my view that makes your question useful primarily as a duplicate question (a pointer to the broader question).
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 6:34
  • If you want to get technical about it, it should be "the person whom I saw yesterday". But the language doesn't support that anymore. Using "that" instead of "who" is an ancient tradition, and as much as I dislike it, there's nothing that can be done about it. Suck it up and don't use it if you don't like it, but rest assured that others will.
    – user21497
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 6:47


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