Thursday, September 23, 2010

Topic: "Who or Whom?"

Purpose of this blog: Topics related to writing.

10-second review: A review of the rules that control the use of “who” or “whom.” This is probably the one-millionth attempt by people to simplify the rules for “who” and “whom” that, regardless how simple they try to make it, are not simple.

Title: “Who or Whom?” Arthur Plotnik. The Writer (October 2010), 19.

Quote: “Many usage gurus say it is Ok to stick with ‘who’ in all cases except when ‘whom’ is idiomatic (as in ‘To Whom It May Concern.’….) ‘Whom’ is likely to be obsolete in a few years, they say—as word watchers have been saying for two centuries. And yet the word still roosts in the expectations of sophisticated listeners and readers, including editors.”

In careful writing, Plotnik offers the following:
“Use who when it performs an action (is the subject of a verb); ignore phrases that aren’t part of its action: Who do you suspect spilled the soup?’ ”

“Use whom when it receives the action: ‘Whom she fired had nothing to do with the soup.’ ”

“Use whom if it follows a preposition…. BUT Ignore the preposition when the pronoun who acts: ‘I’ve got something for whoever spilled the soup.’ Ignore the preposition when the pronoun is tied to a to be verb: ‘It depends on who the schlemiel is. ’ ”

Comment: I’ll let that explanation sink in. RayS.

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