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  1. #1
    Ju is offline Key Member
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    Who and whom

    1. Who did you meet at thell library? Amy and Susan.

    2. Whom did you meet at thell library? Amy and Susan.

    Number 2 is the sentence I found in an English text book. But I don't understand the difference in usage between the above.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: Who and whom

    English teachers used to try to get people to use whom when a sentence requires an object pronoun. Few English speakers do so except when it follows a preposition.

    I hope the textbook didn't say ​thell library.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 13-Sep-2017 at 22:29. Reason: Thanks Rover!
    I am not a teacher.

  3. #3
    Rover_KE is online now Moderator
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    Re: Who and whom

    We've all liked the above without noticing that precedes should be follows.

  4. #4
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: Who and whom

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    We've all liked the above without noticing that precedes should be follows.
    Why not? I managed to write it that way.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. #5
    Ju is offline Key Member
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    Re: Who and whom

    Dear Piscean,
    Sorry, I still don't understand.
    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Phaedrus's Avatar
    Phaedrus is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Who and whom

    I still don't understand.
    Who(m) functions as the direct object of "meet." Compare:

    You met whom at the library?

    Notice that you wouldn't say, *I met they at the library.
    You would say, instead, I met them at the library.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Who and whom

    Most English speaker don't use whom, except in very formal contexts or after a preposition - to whom it may concern. Originally, who was a subject word and whom an object word, but the distinction is being lost as we use who for both subject and object most of the time.

  8. #8
    Phaedrus's Avatar
    Phaedrus is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Who and whom

    Most English speaker don't use whom, except in very formal contexts or after a preposition - to whom it may concern.
    Interestingly, in "to whom it may concern," it is not because, as commonly supposed, "whom" follows a preposition that we use "whom," but rather because "whom" functions as the object of the transitive verb "concern" in the free relative clause "whom it may concern," which as a whole functions as the object of the preposition "to." We would use "who(ever)" if the wh- word in the free relative clause functioning as the object of "to" were the subject of the free relative clause, as in "to whoever left their backpack in the classroom."

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Who and whom

    The vast majority of people who say to whom it may concern would not say whom it may concern, or whom did you meet, so I would respectfully not fully agree- they are mostly shoving whom in because it is a standard phrase and because it comes after a preposition.

  10. #10
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Who and whom

    The only odd thing about "to whom it may concern," which makes it something of a set phrase, is the absence of the "-ever" suffix. The use of the objective-case relative pronoun is perfectly normal and called for there.

    Again, it's interesting to note that in phrases like "to whoever left their backpack in the classroom," "to whoever took it," "to whoever likes her," etc. -- all of which are similar on the surface to "to whom it may concern" -- "whomever" would actually be ungrammatical. We need "whoever" in those other cases, regardless of the fact that the word follows the preposition. That's because "whoever" isn't the object of the preposition. The object of the preposition is "whoever took it," etc. "Whoever" is the subject of that clause.

    Thus, the native speaker for whom "whom" is to be shunned except in cases like "to whom it may concern" is liable to go wrong and use "whom" or "whomever" when "whoever" is the only formally correct choice -- specifically in the type of context I have been talking about. I have seen my fellow natives fall into this trap time and time again, and it always tells me that they haven't studied very much grammar. Whoever falls into this trap should tell whomever they studied grammar under that they have been led astray.
    Last edited by Phaedrus; 14-Sep-2017 at 19:14. Reason: some additions

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