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Please teach me (and others) about who and whom

(21 Posts)
MrsSprat Tue 09-Sep-08 15:48:24

Never known the rule.

Not sure I'll follow it, but slightly curious to know what it is. Example sentences would be v. helpful.

Thanking you.

fryalot Tue 09-Sep-08 15:49:19

I think whom is a single person

"to whom should I address this letter?"

and who could be several

"who wants to go to the park?"

foxytocin Tue 09-Sep-08 15:55:57

Who is a subject pronoun. It replaces the name of the person or animal who did the action. Who broke the moneybox? Sam broke the moneybox.

The boy, who lives down the road, is called Sam. There are 2 sentences here: The boy is called Sam. And Who lives down the road. (the word who is replacing the name, Sam)

Whom is an object pronoun. It replaces the name of the person who the action was done to.

Whom is also commonly preceded by a preposition: by whom, for whom, with whom for example.

For whom are you waiting?
With whom are you going?
The boy, with whom I went to the fair, is called Sam.

AMumInScotland Tue 09-Sep-08 15:58:39

It's about whether they are the ones doing something or not -

so "Who will give out these leaflets?"

but "To whom should the leaflets be given?"

beansmum Tue 09-Sep-08 15:59:07

If you could replace who/whom with a subject pronoun (eg he) then you should use who. If you could replace who/whom with an object pronoun (eg him) then use whom.

MrsSprat Tue 09-Sep-08 16:09:42

hmmm. You see this is why I get a block on this one. If Squonk and beansmum are broadly right, I could try to get my head round it. If I have to think about subject/object pronouns I glaze over and consider giving up pedantry. No offence foxytocin btw, it's just the way the Sprat brain malfunctions

hanaflower Tue 09-Sep-08 16:11:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsSprat Tue 09-Sep-08 16:12:59

<thinks hard again> so whom is passive and who is active, kind of? <brain melts>

AMumInScotland Tue 09-Sep-08 16:41:30

I think of it as active/passive, though I think it's not exactly, it's close enough for me!

Twiglett Tue 09-Sep-08 16:44:21

who happens to whom

foxytocin Tue 09-Sep-08 16:51:06

Ah, mrs.sprat, that is because I got taught English the proper way. IE, not in the United Kingdom. grin

MrsSprat Tue 09-Sep-08 17:02:03

Wow, I bet you know what/why a subjunctive is and everything grin

foxytocin Tue 09-Sep-08 17:04:28

and in more than one language too MrsSprat. wink grin

supercollider Tue 09-Sep-08 17:12:33

I use beansmum's way. Turn the sentence around to find out which to use.

'The man to whom/who the present was given...'

Now if you were to turn this around, you would say 'the present was given to him', not 'the present was given to he'. So it's 'whom'.

'The man who gave the present...'

Turn it around: 'He gave the present' (not 'him gave the present'). So it's 'who'.

Him = her = them = me = whom
He = she = they = I = who

Does this help?hmm

MrsSprat Tue 09-Sep-08 17:23:00

Arrrgh. <melted brain melts a bit more>
I suppose I'll have to put some effort into this. I'm quite smart, I can do this.
<Re-straps on protestant work-ethic>.

SubRosa Tue 09-Sep-08 19:33:34

Isn't 'whom' the dative version of 'who'? I know we tend not to use grammatical cases in English, but 'whom' is normally used with a preposition. That wonderful assertion should kill this thread fairly rapidly

hanaflower Wed 10-Sep-08 09:59:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AllFallDown Wed 10-Sep-08 11:42:29

Supercollider has explained it in the clearest manner. That's how it works. The problem with explaining grammar is that most reference texts do all that dative/subjunctive stuff - like most people under 40, I never learned any of that stuff, though I am fortunate to have impeccable grammar because I am INCREDIBLY CLEVER and most of it is commonsense. The perfect grammar book would be one that did not contain any theory, but simply explained how the rules work in practice.

SubRosa Wed 10-Sep-08 12:56:20

Hanaflower - I didn't read the thread properly blush. Like you, I only understand grammar, through having learnt German.

beansmum Wed 10-Sep-08 15:49:53

(supercollider used my way, so does that mean I have actually been helpful? That NEVER happens)

beansmum Wed 10-Sep-08 15:50:45

(Although I was helpful with presume/assume yesterday, what's going on?!)

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