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  1. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 2
    #1

    Who and Whom

    Hello,

    Can you please clarify for me when you should use who and when you should use whom? Thank you!

    Kellye

  2. #2

    Smile Re: Who and Whom

    kellye,

    Put simply 'who' is used as the subject of a verb: 'The actor who played the role of...' (to help, you could just say 'he' played the role of...'; that would give you some idea of which pronoun it should be);

    'Whom' is used as the object of a verb: 'Whom do you like best', because 'whom' is the object of the verb 'like'.

    Any use?


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
    • Posts: 150
    #3

    Re: Who and Whom

    Is it correct to say: "Who should I send the mail to?"

  3. #4

    Smile Re: Who and Whom

    No, in this case you'd have to use 'whom' because you are talking about the mail (subject) being sent to someone (object). Also, often an indicator of an object word is one which is preceded by the word 'to'. Just a tip.


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
    • Posts: 150
    #5

    Re: Who and Whom

    I posted the question (Which question is correct from grammatical point of view? Whom should I send the mail?

    Who should I send the mail?) several months ago and got the following answer:

    Tdol
    Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    Join Date: Nov 2002
    Country: UK
    Location: Phnom Penh
    First Language: English
    Posts: 24,529
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    Re: Who and whom
    You could say:
    To whom should I send the mail? (formal)
    Who should I send the mail to?

  4. #6

    Red face Re: Who and Whom

    Tvita, I see no difference in the grammatical meanings of the two phrases. The first is more formal than the second, but I still think the mail is being sent to the object of the sentence, thus 'whom' would need to be used in the second instance. Mind you, am I right in thinking that particular response came from the editor????


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
    • Posts: 150
    #7

    Re: Who and Whom

    Actually I agree with you completely. When I got this response several months ago I could not find the logic. I mean I could not understand the answer completely. Today when I saw your answer to this post I finally got it. :) But now it seems to me that second version (with Who..) is incorrect. Maybe it is just word misspelling and it supposed to be word "whom".

  5. #8

    Thumbs up Re: Who and Whom

    Tvita, I'm almost 100% sure that it has to be 'whom'. As you say, the logic is there isn't it. Glad I could help. Let me know if you have any other probs.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #9

    Re: Who and Whom

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvita View Post
    I posted the question (Which question is correct from grammatical point of view? Whom should I send the mail?

    Who should I send the mail?) several months ago and got the following answer:

    Tdol
    Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    Join Date: Nov 2002
    Country: UK
    Location: Phnom Penh
    First Language: English
    Posts: 24,529
    Thanks: 1
    Thanked 17 Times in 16 Posts


    Re: Who and whom
    You could say:
    To whom should I send the mail? (formal)
    Who should I send the mail to?
    Both are correct, Tvita, grammatically and practically.


    The first story was a nonpartisan analysis of supposed pronoun case errors made by the two candidates in the 1992 US presidential election. George Bush had recently adopted the slogan "Who do you trust?," alienating schoolteachers across the nation who noted that [who] is a subject pronoun and the question is asking about the object of [trust]. One would say [You do trust him], not [You do trust he], and so the question word should be [whom], not [who].

    In reply, one might point out that the [who/whom] distinction is a relic of the English case system, abandoned by nouns centuries ago and found today only among pronouns in distinctions like [he/him]. Even among pronouns, the old distinction between subject [ye] and object [you] has vanished, leaving [you] to play both roles and [ye] as sounding completely archaic. [Whom] has outlived [ye], but is clearly moribund, and it already sounds pretentious in most spoken contexts. No one demands of Bush that he say [Whom do ye trust?]. If the language can bear the loss of [ye], using [you] for both subjects and objects, why insist on clinging to [whom], when everyone uses [who] for both subjects and objects?

    Safire, with his enlightened attitude toward usage, recognizes the problem, and proposes Safire's Law of Who/Whom, which forever solves the problem troubling writers and speakers caught between the pedantic and the incorrect: "When [whom] is correct, recast the sentence." Thus, instead of changing his slogan to "Whom do you trust?" -- making him sound like a hypereducated Yalie stiff -- Mr. Bush would win back the purist vote with "Which candidate do you trust"?

    Telling people to avoid a problematic construction sounds like common sense, but in the case of object questions with [who], it demands an intolerable sacrifice. People ask questions about the objects of verbs and prepositions [a lot]. Consider the kinds of questions one might ask a child in ordinary conversation: Who did we see on the way home? Who did you play with outside tonight? Who did you sound like? (Imagine replacing any of these with [whom]!)

    Safire's advice is to change such questions to [Which person] or [Which child]. But the advice would have people violate the most important maxim of good prose: Omit needless words. It also subverts the supposed goal of rules of usage, which is to allow people to express their thoughts as clearly and precisely as possible. A question like [Who did we see on the way home?] can embrace one person, many people, or any combination or number of adults, babies, children, and familiar dogs. Any specific substitution like [Which person?] forecloses some of these possibilities.

    And how in the world would you apply Safire's Law to the famous refrain Who're you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS! Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Safire should have taken his observation about the pedantic sound of [whom] to its logical conclusion and advised the president that there is no reason to change the slogan, at least no grammatical reason.

    http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articl...wrepublic.html


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
    • Posts: 150
    #10

    Re: Who and Whom

    Shakespeare's brother -

    Anyway thank you a lot :) - you are answering in very clear way. It helps such non-native speakers as I (I am not sure if I should put "I" or "me" here) to understand English.

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