Jan 31, 2011

A Gram of Grammar #1

Who or Whom, That is the Question

A Relative Clause is used to give additional information in one single sentence rather than repeat the words in another statement. It often uses relative pronouns to connect the two sentences together.

A Relative Pronoun is a pronoun that connects a relative clause into a bigger sentence. The most common relative pronouns are Who, Whom, Whoever, Whomever, Whose, That, Which, What, When and Where.

The pronoun to use is determined by what the subject is.

If the subject is a person, use “who.” If the subject is an object, use “that.”

For Example:

Roxy is the girl who gave me the book.
This is the book that Roxy gave me.

“Whom” is used in formal language and is grammatically correct. In conversational language, “who” is used more often than “whom.” Sometimes both can be omitted entirely as long as the sentence still functions as a whole.

For Example:

Formally: The lady to whom you gave the cookies to is my mother.
Informally: The lady who you gave the cookies to is my mother.
                   The lady you gave the cookies to is my mother.

“That” is used more informally, while ”Who” and “Which” are proper in formal writing.

For Example:

Informally: The man that built this house is very talented.
Formally: The man who built this house is very talented.
Informally: The book that talked about a hippo was very informative.
Formally: The book which talked about a hippo was very informative.

All in all, to make sure you’re using the right relative pronoun, determine the subject and base the pronoun off of that. You could also try reading the sentence out loud to see how it sounds.
As for “who” or “whom,” the question is, do you want to sound formal or informal? Both will most likely be accepted.

For additional information:
Check Out Purdue University’s English Guide to Relative Pronouns – Introduction and General Usage in Defining Clauses

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