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  1. #1
    joenuts's Avatar
    joenuts is offline Junior Member
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    Default ...blame he/him who...

    Which pronoun must be used in this sentence?

    They blamed he/him who reported the matter to the authorities.

    I know that the idea may be expressed in a better way, but what would be the correct pronoun here? Do we separate the two clauses, or do we let the personal pronoun agree with the case of the relative pronoun?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: ...blame he/him who...

    If forced to choose, I would probably go for 'him', though others would go the other way, I'm sure. It's one of those tricky ones that, I feel, comes down to presonal choices, and I tend to go for proximity with such choices and the pronoun is closer to the verb it's the object of than then part it's subject of.

  3. #3
    joenuts's Avatar
    joenuts is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: ...blame he/him who...

    I tell my students that they have to consider 'traditional', purist grammar rules when taking exams, just as what you told me before. The trouble is I'm not sure of what to say about this. Shall I choose 'him' since it's the more widely used pronoun in this context? Is there any definite rule on this?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: ...blame he/him who...

    I believe there's always been problems with this construction. It boils down to this: Is the third-person pronoun the object of the phrase "They blamed him", or is it the subject of the phrase "He who reported..."?

    I think it's "him". Reason: "who reported..." is itself a relative clause.

    Confusion sets in with the following type of construction:

    He who does his homework will pass the exam.

    I think people tend to lump "he who" together in one unit, and I think that's wrong: "who does his homework" is a relative clause; remove it, and you are left with "He will pass the exam". "He" is the subject of the verb "will", not "does".

    And so also in your example: "They blamed he" is not grammatically correct. "He" does not share the same identity as "who"; rather, it shares the identity of the entire relative clause; and the relative clause is the object, not the subject, of the main clause.

  5. #5
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: ...blame he/him who...

    I'd also choose "him":

    1. They blamed him | who reported the matter to the authorities.
    2. They blamed the person | who reported the matter to the authorities.

    If we switch the clauses it becomes clearer, perhaps:

    3. He | whom they blamed | reported the matter to the authorities.

    MrP

  6. #6
    joenuts's Avatar
    joenuts is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: ...blame he/him who...

    Salamat!

  7. #7
    matilda Guest

    Talking Re: ...blame he/him who...

    so every body here think about HIM?
    but this structure is somehow odd!!!

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: ...blame he/him who...

    It is odd because it has both subject and object characteristics, but there does seem to be general agreement, though the reasoning behind the decision may be different.

  9. #9
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: ...blame he/him who...

    Is it any clearer in the non-defining version, Matilda?

    1. They blamed him, who reported it to the authorities.

    MrP

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