why do people use whom instead of who? I`d like to know why and where it becomes common or not. Here`s an example: "We feed children whom we think are hungry.?Times." which comes from http://www.bartleby.com/116/207.html .
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why do people use whom instead of who? I`d like to know why and where it becomes common or not. Here`s an example: "We feed children whom we think are hungry.?Times." which comes from http://www.bartleby.com/116/207.html .

"Who" is the subject form: "whom" is the object form, used for the object of verbs and prepositions. The sentence you cite is bad grammar, because, expanded, it would be "We feed children. We think that they are hungry". The subject-form "they" of the second mini-sentence becomes the subject-form "who" of the combined version. So the sentence should be "We feed children who we think are hungry."
Those who use "whom" in this way should be consistent and write "We think them need help" - which of course they don't and wouldn't. Unfortunately there is an alternative version, also correct if oldfashioned: "We feed children whom we think to be hungry". This is an unnecessary variation, and should be attempted (if at all) only by those who understand how the Latin accusative-and-infinitive construction is imitated in English.

In general, "whom" is falling out of use, especially when the verb or preposition that triggers it is far removed from the "who(m)". So many people would write or even say "To whom did you give the package?" but most would more naturally say "Who did you give the package to?" The best general advice is to avoid "whom" altogether unless you are quite confident about how to use it. If you use "who" where "whom" would be formally more correct, you may (but probably won't) seem mildly ignorant to those who know the "rules": if you use "whom" where "who" is correct, you will seem a would-be show-off - and ignorant as well! So stick to "who" if you're not sure.
Alan Jones
why do people use whom instead of who? I`d like ... children whom we think are hungry.?Times." which comes from http://www.bartleby.com/116/207.html .

"Who" is the subject form: "whom" is the object form, used for the object of verbs and prepositions. The sentence you cite is bad grammar, because, expanded, it would be "We feed children. We think that they are hungry". The

Or rather, if you wanted the expansion to reflect the mistake in the original, what they are really saying is: "We feed children. We think that them are hungry"
CV
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"Who" is the subject form: "whom" is the object form, ... be "We feed children. Wethink that they are hungry". The

Or rather, if you wanted the expansion to reflect the mistake inthe original, what they are really saying is: "We feed children. Wethink that them are hungry" CV

These guys have got a lousy teacher, haven't they? Or maybe they're just the clowns who didn't show up to class.
Mike.
why do people use whom instead of who? I`d like to know why and where it becomes common or not. Here`s an example: "We feed children whom we think are hungry.?Times." which comes from http://www.bartleby.com/116/207.html .

Well, that's an interesting question, Jerry.
I've wondered about that myself, and I've come to the conclusion that 'whom' is now used by many people for one of three reasons. In decreasing order of likelihood, they are:
a) the social reason
People who have never actually been taught the rule and haven't encountered 'whom' used traditionally enough times to intuit it use it to mark high-falutin' language, whether or not it should be used that way traditionally. I.e, it's a status symbol.

People who follow this rule have a 50% probability of guessing right, after all, and an additional probability (probably over 50%) of being heard or read by people following the same rule if they are wrong. So it's a good strategy, game-theory-wise, a cheap source of educational status.
b) the new grammatical reason
People who are actually trying to figure out a grammatical reason for 'whom' (having been told that there was one, perhaps) use 'whom' when it precedes another noun phrase i.e, when it can't be the subject of the relative clause and therefore should (according, perhaps, to what they were taught) be the object.
c) the traditional grammatical reason
It gets used where it ought to be according to traditional grammar (with maybe a few borderline cases fudged).
In the sentence you cite:
We feed children whom we think are hungry.
notice that there is already a 'we' functioning as the subject of the relative clause, so that leaves only the object slot for 'who(m)', so I suspect (b) is the correct attribution for this sentence, if it did actually appear in some newspaper called the 'Times'. Any such author would (hopefully!) not be searching for social validation. On the other hand, it might be a quote from somebody who was, in which case (a) would describe it.

See also my post on deleted relative pronouns in a different thread.

-John Lawler http://www.umich.edu/~jlawler Michigan Linguistics Dept "A dog is not considered good because of his barking, and a man is not considered good because of his ability to talk." Chuang Tzu
In the sentence you cite: We feed children whom we think are hungry. notice that there is already a 'we' functioning as the subject of the relative clause,

"We" is the subject of only one of two clauses. It's the subject of "We think", but "who" is the subject of "who are hungry".
"We think who are hungry" is not idiomatically acceptable, but it is just as sound syntactically as "We think they are hungry". The inversion makes it clear that "who are hungry" is the object of the transitive verb "think".
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In the sentence you cite: We feed children whom we ... a 'we' functioning as the subject of the relative clause,

"We" is the subject of only one of two clauses. It's the subject of "We think", but "who" is the subject of "who are hungry".

Yes, but the two clauses are not coordinate; the second one is subordinate to the first, which means that "we" is the subject of the superordinate clause. Relative clause formation refers only to the subject of the superordinate clause, so downstairs subjecthood is irrelevant.
I think that's why the New Grammatical Rule was formed; it's consistent with the deletability facts, and (like the NGR for the use of 'me' vs 'I') is based on simple linear cues instead of complex and little-understood lookahead parsing regimes.
-John Lawler http://www.umich.edu/~jlawler U Michigan Linguistics Dept "The way that human beings think, certainly the way that I think, is in terms of stories... Now what is a story? A story, if it so please you, is a metaphor." Gregory Bateson
Yes, but the two clauses are not coordinate; the second one is subordinate to the first, which means that "we" ... the use of 'me' vs 'I') is based on simple linear cues instead of complex and little-understood lookahead parsing regimes.

Since people don't know how the sentence will end when they start it, unless they are utterly weird, they can't use such a system, and talk like anything normal. At least I can't.

Here's another way of looking at it. Every single vote that is cast that should not be allowed disenfranchises someone who legitimately could vote and disagreed with the illegal voter. That makes keeping illegal votes out just as important as making sure that legal ones are allowed. Of course do we hear any of that from Democrats? They don't want compulsory ID required to vote, they don't want to even exclude illegal aliens or people who call themselves Mary Poppins. I'm supposed to take these people, Democrats, as serious, well considered, politically believable individuals?
Yes, but the two clauses are not coordinate; the second ... linear cues instead of complex and little-understood lookahead parsing regimes.

Since people don't know how the sentence will end when they start it, unless they are utterly weird, they can't use such a system, and talk like anything normal. At least I can't.

How do people cope, then, with a language such as German, where (even in informal speech) the main verb may be delayed to the end of a longish sentence, and where case-endings are routine? Are all Germans weird?

Alan Jones
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