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    #1

    When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    Dear all,

    I have just encountered a rule saying the following -

    2) In American English, the word whom is not used very often. "Whom" is more formal than "who" and is very often omitted while speaking:


    Grammatically Correct: The woman to whom you have just spoken is my teacher.
    Conversational Use: The woman you have just spoken to is my teacher.
    OR
    The woman who you have just spoken to is my teacher.
    However, "whom" may not be omitted if preceded by a preposition because the relative pronoun functions as the object of the preposition:

    The visitor for whom you were waiting has arrived.

    My question is the following. The cited source says that whom may not be omitted if preceded by a preposition. However the author omitted whom in one example which comes before the said no-omission rule. The example is 'The woman to whom you have just spoken is my teacher.' The example is than simplified by dropping 'whom' and placing 'to' after 'spoken' to have - 'The woman you have just spoken to is my teacher.'
    Please explain to me the key idea behind this rule. Many thanks.

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    #2

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    The vast majority of native speakers never use the word "whom." (Outside of set phrases like "for whom the bell tolls.") You could safely forget that it exists and devote time to studying other facets of the language.

    The "rule" you are asking about is a compromise that many educated people have made in the recent past (see William F Buckley, Jr. for one). The idea is that insisting on using "whom" in all cases is outdated, but that one should still use it after a preposition.

    So, "Whom are you waiting for?" is traditional correct.
    "Who are you waiting for?" is the normal speech used by most speakers. Those following this "rule" would say this.
    "For whom are you waiting?" would also be used by those following this "rule," since the "whom" immediately follows the preposition. But it is unlikely for most native speakers, because it sounds overly-formal.

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    #3

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    Thank you for your explanation. Based on what you are writing, can I conclude that although there is the preposition 'to' in 'The woman you have just spoken to is my teacher', 'whom' can be dropped to have 'The woman you have just spoken to is my teacher' (following the 'rule'). Thank you.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 10-Feb-2015 at 18:53. Reason: Deleting unnecessary quote.

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    I am not a teacher.

    The 'rule' means that you can't drop 'whom' from a sentence like, 'The woman to whom you have just spoken is my teacher.'

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    #5

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    The key is if the word "whom" directly follows the preposition.

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    #6

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    Thank you. But the rule can be ignored in practice. Am I right?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    Only in certain circumstances. If you remove "who/whom" from the following sentences, you get different results.

    The woman who you just spoke to is my mother.
    The woman you just spoke to is my mother.

    The woman whom you just spoke to is my mother.
    The woman you just spoke to is my mother.

    The woman to whom you just spoke is my mother.
    The woman to you just spoke is my mother.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #8

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Svetlana:

    I agree with the other posters that the rule holds true: IF "whom" directly follows a preposition, it cannot be omitted:


    "The man to whom Mona is married is hardworking."

    "The man Mona is married to is hardworking." (As you can see, "to" has been moved to another position.)

    "The person with whom Ralph eats lunch is Maria."

    "The person Ralph eats lunch with is Maria."

    "The girl for whom Joe bought a diamond ring is Barbara."

    "The girl Joe bought a diamond ring for is Barbara."

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    #9

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    Thank you. I am a little bit confused. In "The man to whom Mona is married is hardworking." "whom" directly follows the preposition "to" so there is a basis for the rule to apply. However you have ignored that rule in the second sentence "The man Mona is married to is hardworking" by omitting "whom" and moving "to" to another position. Am I right?

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: When the pronoun 'whom' may be omitted

    Quote Originally Posted by svetlana14 View Post
    In "The man to whom Mona is married is hardworking." "whom" directly follows the preposition "to" so there is a basis for the rule to apply.
    I would not omit 'whom' if the preposition is before the relative clause.

    Not a teacher.

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