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  1. #1
    mogu is offline Newbie
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    Default who or whom in a complex sentence

    I came across the sentece below while I was reading a book about some paramedical field. The book was written by a Canadian author who holds a Ph.D. Grammatically speaking, the relative pronoun in the middle of the sentence should be "who" instead of "whom." This sentence is rather complex, so I guess the structure that there is no word that can be regarded as an object of "believed" at a glance gives a good ground to use the objective form of "who" in this sentence. However, is it common for native English speakers to use this type of structure?

    "They selected individuals whom they believed would accept this role willingly."

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    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: who or whom in a complex sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by mogu View Post
    I came across the sentece below while I was reading a book about some paramedical field. The book was written by a Canadian author who holds a Ph.D. Grammatically speaking, the relative pronoun in the middle of the sentence should be "who" instead of "whom." This sentence is rather complex, so I guess the structure that there is no word that can be regarded as an object of "believed" at a glance gives a good ground to use the objective form of "who" in this sentence. However, is it common for native English speakers to use this type of structure?

    "They selected individuals whom they believed would accept this role willingly."
    This is a very complex use of who/whom. If the pronoun is the direct object of a verb or the object of a preposition, it should technically be "whom". In this case, however, the pronoun is the subject of the clause "who would accept the role willingly", so the nominative form (who) is correct.

  3. #3
    mogu is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: who or whom in a complex sentence

    Thank you, MikeNewYork. Strictly speaking, I know "who" is correct. However, I'm wondering whether this kind of use of "whom" is an accepted mistake among native English speakers or not. The sentence I quoted was written by a native English speaker and she is well educated.

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    Default Re: who or whom in a complex sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by mogu View Post
    Thank you, MikeNewYork. Strictly speaking, I know "who" is correct. However, I'm wondering whether this kind of use of "whom" is an accepted mistake among native English speakers or not. The sentence I quoted was written by a native English speaker and she is well educated.
    That construction is so complex that I doubt, most people would notice the error. However, most mistakes with who/whom that get attention is the overuse of "whom" not the underuse of "whom". I once met a woman who said "I am looking for a man whom is kind, whom is intelligent, whom is generous." I said "And whom doesn't understand grammar."
    Last edited by MikeNewYork; 29-Jan-2014 at 02:27. Reason: typo

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