Who, whom, that

Ju

Key Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Hong Kong
Current Location
Hong Kong
1. You should talk to someone who you trust when you are lonely.
2. You should talk to someone whom you trust when you are lonely.
3. You should talk to someone that you trust when you are lonely.
4. You should talk to someone you trust when you are lonely.

Are the above sentences correct, please?

Thanks.
 

Ju

Key Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Hong Kong
Current Location
Hong Kong
I saw number 2 in an article before. I thought "whom" must have a preposition in front grammatically.
E.g.
To whom it may concern.

Thanks.
 

Ju

Key Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Hong Kong
Current Location
Hong Kong
All four are correct.

Some people prefer not to use 'that' (#3) when the antecedent is a person.

'Whom' is used when it is the object of a verb or a preposition. It is rather formal.

Piscean,
Would you mind explaining further a bit about the usage of whom with examples?

Thanks.
 

Matthew Wai

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2013
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
Hong Kong
1. He is the one about whom I worry.
2. He is the one I worry about.
3. He is the one whom I saw last week.
4. He is the one I saw last week.

I would not use 1 and 3 although they are grammatical.
 

Ju

Key Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Hong Kong
Current Location
Hong Kong
1. He is the one about whom I worry.
2. He is the one I worry about.
3. He is the one whom I saw last week.
4. He is the one I saw last week.

I would not use 1 and 3 although they are grammatical.

For number 3, can I use who to replace whom?
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Most BrE speakers probably would use "who" there (or nothing at all).
 

Ju

Key Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Hong Kong
Current Location
Hong Kong
Most BrE speakers probably would use "who" there (or nothing at all).

May I ask which one should I choose during examination?
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
May I ask which one [STRIKE]should[/STRIKE] I should choose during an examination?

That's a little hard to answer. Sometimes it depends on the examiner! I would recommend choosing either "whom" or nothing at all. I'd avoid "who".
 

Matthew Wai

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2013
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
Hong Kong
I don't know who(m) you are talking about.

I would use 'whom' in an exam because it is the grammatical object form of ‘who’.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
I should have made it clear I was talking only about the sentences in post 5 (which I now realise weren't written by the OP). Of course, in some contexts it's not possible to use "nothing at all".

That's the man to whom I sold my car. :tick:
That's the man to who I sold my car. :cross:
That's the man to I sold my car. :cross:

Of course, "That's the man I sold my car to" avoids the issue.
 

Charlie Bernstein

VIP Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
That sentence is not natural with 'whom' and a preposition at the end..

The less formal way is I don't know who you are talking about.
The more formal, and rather stilted, way is I don't know about whom you are talking.

I don't know whom you are talking about
is an unhappy mix of two registers.

I don't know of any British examining board that would penalise the less formal way.
You're right, of course. As you've done, it's good to both point out the strict convention and the more natural way of saying something.

I often cite what jazz teachers tell new students: Learn the book, then throw it away.
 
Top