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Another who/whom question Options
sherb
Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 4:32:02 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 12/26/2012
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Location: Canada
Hi all,

I am editing a document in which the author has used the following section sub-heading:

Who we are, what we do and whom we serve.

The sub-section is basically describing the organization and its purpose.

Technically, I think it should actually be "Whom we are, what we do and whom we serve". However, that sounds awkward and overly formal to me. I'd like to change it but want to make sure I have some good reasons to support my decisions. Can anyone provide some feedback? Am I right that it should be "whom" rather than "who" in both instances? Can you suggest resources that would support using "who" instead? Any ideas for how to rework this?

Thanks!
RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 4:37:36 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

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Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
That is a(n incorrect) hyper-correctness, to which many people are prey. No, because the only verb you have is to be (are, in this case). To be cannot take an object, because it is an identity, so in your sentences, who and we are the same. Since we is the subject, so is who.
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 5:01:51 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,589
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
RuthP wrote:
That is a(n incorrect) hyper-correctness, to which many people are prey. No, because the only verb you have is to be (are, in this case). To be cannot take an object, because it is an identity, so in your sentences, who and we are the same. Since we is the subject, so is who.


That is a very good summary.

Please allow me to add my thoughts.

If anything, there is a very long history of flattening the who/whom distinction. In another thread it was noted that in the opinion of the editors of Webster's the trend has been to prefer "who" over "whom," except when that pronoun is clearly the object of a preposition or verb.

In other words, "Who we are" is universally accepted as the proper form in both formal and informal English.

If anything, it is the phrase "whom we serve" that would attract my attention as an editor.

Given the above pattern, it would be natural to write that as "who we serve," even though that sounds illogical and is different from the way I was taught to speak English. Just the same, It has a long history behind it.

In my humble opinion, it is excellent as written. As a section heading, it neatly summarizes what I expect to find in that section.
Shivanand
Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 10:41:30 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/2/2011
Posts: 7,902
Neurons: 229,316
Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Hi sherb, welcome to the forums! Some time ago one of our elite forum members(I don't remember; may be thar or leon or Foundit, not sure)had given a thumb rule as under:

Who ---- I -- we -- they--- he
whose---mine--ours---theirs--his
whom-- me -- us---them---him

I think by and large this works fine.

Cheers!
Daveski
Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012 5:45:34 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/17/2012
Posts: 1,711
Neurons: 5,066
Location: Caer Sidi
I'm with Ruth on this one.
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