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Whom

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Whom

Postby Flaminius » Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:47 am

I am having some trouble with the use of whom. Could anybody provide input how the following sentences score in terms of GP (grammatical correctness)?

1. Be that whom you are meant to be.
2. Your choice should be that whom you as a voter knows to be the best.

Number 2 apparently suffers from wrong agreement but otherwise sounds okay to me. Any comments?

Flam
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Postby tcward » Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:18 am

I would shy away from the use of that as a pronoun replacement.

The less formal, but commonly accepted, rendition would be:

Be him who you're meant to be.

Your choice should be him who, as a voter, you know to be the best.

(I moved the phrase "as a voter" before the subject so the subject-verb agreement would sound ok.)

More formally, I believe I was taught that the truly correct forms should be:

Be he who you are meant to be.

Your choice should be he who, as a voter, you know to be the best.

In today's less male-gender-friendly clime, we would replace the generic he pronoun with a substitute phrase such as "the one". The who form would remain.

-Tim
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Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:56 am

I'm with Tim here. I think the hesitation between the nominative and the accusative (oblique) forms of the pronoun arises from the fact that in formal speech, complements of the copula «be» are in the former, unlike the objects of transitive verbs, which are in the latter. It should be remembered, however, that both in writing and in speech, the use of the accusative form of the interrogative/relative pronoun is waning - so there are not many of us left who still observe the distinction between «who», and «whom», the use of the latter being almost entirely replaced with that of the former. When it comes to the personal pronouns, however, the trend is the contrary ; with the exception of yours truly hardly any remain who still reply «It is I», to the query «Who is it ?» or «It was he» to the query «Who did it ?» (not I, of course)....

Henri

PS : Flam, if you wish to preserve the construction with «that» in the first sentence, «Be that which you are meant to be» is an option....
Last edited by M. Henri Day on Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Flaminius » Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:47 am

Thx Tim. But how about this?

I voted for Henri whom I believed to be the best.

Here, using accusative relative pronoun is perfectly okay by me since the subordinate clause seems to be derived by wh-fronting of the following;
I believed Henri [him] to be the best.

Hope MHD would do so out there.
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Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:09 am

Flam, your syntax is impeccable (as I am sure Tim will agree) ! As for the semantics, I'd have to know a bit more about the other candidates - if any - to be able to judge....

Henri
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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:10 am

I voted for Henri comma whom I believed to be the best.

This reminds me of the eternal linguistic arguments that Jamie and Paul Buchman have on Mad about You.

Brazilian dude, whoM :wink: is an enthusiastic user of whom. Don't let it die! Let who die? Who no whom? Who is on the first base? Who, not whom.
Languages rule!
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Postby gailr » Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:44 pm

This topic reminds me of a joke from composition class: "Whom is it?" she asked, as she had been to night school.
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Postby KatyBr » Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:59 pm

gailr wrote:This topic reminds me of a joke from composition class: "Whom is it?" she asked, as she had been to night school.
gailr


Especially when it should be, "Whomever is it at my door?"

she quavered.......

Katy :roll:
Last edited by KatyBr on Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tcward » Thu Mar 17, 2005 5:50 pm

BD, I loved that show! And I agree with the use of the comma to delineate the clause.

-Tim
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Postby Stargzer » Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:07 am

Flam,
Spring Training has started, the Montreal Expos are now the Washington Nationals (at last!), and the start of Baseball season is just around the corner. So, if you want to be totally confused about Who, go listen to the classic Abbott and Costello routine "Who's On First."

There's a .wav audio clip as well as a video clip, in case you've never seen Abbott and Costello.
Regards//Larry

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