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whom to tell about Options
Magritte
Posted: Monday, October 8, 2018 5:57:56 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/8/2018
Posts: 3
Neurons: 31
Hi everybody!

The following sentence sounds awkward to me:

He does not know whom to tell about the accident.


What do you think? Is that sentence grammatically correct?

I'm looking forward to your replies.

Best wishes,

Magritte
thar
Posted: Monday, October 8, 2018 6:42:21 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 18,168
Neurons: 73,804
What part feels wrong?

the 'whom'?

It is normal in colloquial English to use 'who' for object cases (especially if there is no preposition) but more formal language would use 'whom'.

Colloquial:
He doesn't know who to tell.
He doesn't know who to tell about the accident.

Traditionally taught grammar form:
He does not know whom to tell.
He does not know whom to tell about the accident.

You can tell that it should technically be 'whom' because it is the object pronoun, not the subject pronoun.
He tells him about the accident
Who tells whom about the accident?



Or is the problem the lack of contraction?
That will depend on what idea you are trying to emphasise, or what style you are trying to present.

Or is it the structure?
He knows that he should tell someone, but does not know whom to tell.
He knows he has to do something, but he doesn't know what to do.
He knows he has to go somewhere, but he doesn't know where to go.
Magritte
Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2018 3:29:06 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/8/2018
Posts: 3
Neurons: 31
Thank you very much for your convincing and detailed reply!
I think what struck me was the combination "tell about" without an object in between (to tell s.o. about so.th.).
But as you say the object is the relative pronoun at the beginning of the clause...
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