Category: Who / Whom / Whoever / Whomever

Rules and Preferences

Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, at 1:09 pm

There were fervent protests from readers reacting to “Old Superstitions Die Hard.” The article established that the relative pronoun that refers to people as well as to things and has done so for centuries. Never was an essay more aptly named. “I don’t care what all of your quoted sources say,” wrote a fiery businesswoman. …

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Old Superstitions Die Hard

Posted on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, at 4:15 pm

People that try hard usually succeed. Is that sentence grammatical? Some nitpickers say the relative pronoun that should never refer to humans. Here is an interesting piece of mail that arrived recently: Please review your “rule” about the use of “who” and “that” when referring to persons. The use of “that” when referring to people …

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We the People, or…?

Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at 6:54 pm

For much of the last two months, we have been analyzing why the subject pronouns I, he, she, we, they and the object pronouns me, him, her, us, them are chronically misused and confused. In this final installment, we’ll deal with flawed sentences like Politicians should respect we the people and It’s a happy outcome …

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Shape-shifting Troublemakers

Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013, at 5:25 pm

No nouns in our language behave like pronouns. The most common subject pronouns (I, he, she, we, they, who, whoever) all become different words (me, him, her, us, them, whom, whomever) when they are objects. Colloquial English has always thumbed its nose at proper English. A seemingly innocent everyday sentence like It’s me is Exhibit …

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I Subject, Your Honor

Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013, at 2:55 pm

Last month, in discussions of who-whom and whoever-whomever, we passed along a handy memory aid: who (and whoever) = he; whom (and whomever) = him. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it goes nowhere unless we can tell a subject (he) from an object (him). One reason that distinguishing between subjects and objects …

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