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who VS whom

December 20, 2009 1 comment

Who is used to address subject of the sentence.

Whom is used to address object of the sentence.

excerpt from Andrea’s post on beatthegmat:

If a question about the action being described would be answered with “he” then the correct form is “who.” If a question about the action being described would be answered with “him,” then the correct form is “whom.” Just remember that the words with M’s at the end go together. He = Who, and Him = Whom.

In answer to Jennifer’s query, she was told that in the record store, there is a list of available recordings of lesser-known Jazz artists of whom recordings survive who played at the famous Cat’s Meow speakeasy.

“…Jazz artists of whom recordings survive…” we ask “Which artists are the recordings of?” And the answer is, “The recordings are of them.” Thus, “whom” is correct in the sentence. And then we examine the verb “played,” which is in the past tense. The subject of that verb would be “they,” as in “they played,” which would make the correct pronoun “who.” In this sentence, then, both of those pronouns are used correctly.

Explanation by Grammar Girl: (Very important)
Here’s an example of the kind of questions that are coming in. Derrick from Oakland, CA, recently read a story in the Wall Street Journal about restaurants that offer tasting menus that pair wine with food, and he came across this sentence about the sommelier:
We never did meet his teammate … who[m] he said works the room in his absence.

Derrick thought the whom seemed out of place and asked me to explain why. He’s right, and I will have a quick and dirty tip for you, but first, I want to explain in grammatical terms why it should be who.

First, you have to separate out the clause that contains the who or whom. All you need to care about is how the who or whom functions within that clause.
In the example sentence–We never did meet his teammate who he said works the room in his absence–the last part (who he said works the room in his absence) is something called an adjectival clause. That just means the whole thing functions as an adjective to tell use more about the teammate. Who is the teammate? Someone who he says works the room in his absence.
The part that always seems to mess people up in clauses like that is the he says part. Someone who [he says] works the room in his absence.
It seems as if people see the he and think it might be the subject of the clause, but it’s not. The good news is that he says is a separate clause within the adjectival clause, and you can just ignore it. It’s parenthetical–an aside (1, 2). Take it out in your imagination as you look at the sentence or cross it out. Taking it out leaves you with the clause who works the room in his absence.
So our original question is actually:
In June, 1981, six teenagers in the village of Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, claimed to have had visions of the Virgin Mary, who ,they say, has continued to appear to them over the ensuing years.
In June, 1981, six teenagers in the village of Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, claimed to have had visions of the Virgin Mary, who has continued to appear to them over the ensuing years.

(source: http://www.beatthegmat.com/six-teenagers-in-the-village-of-medjugorje-t24730.html)

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