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Folks,

Which question is correct and why is who/whom correct in this case?

And whom might that be?

Or:

And who might that be?

Thanks,

Scott
Comments  
Hello Winders, welcome to English Forums!

Only the second version is correct:

1. And who might that be?

"Who might that be?" is a modal version of:

2. Who is that?

(You would never say "Whom is that?")

MrP
Thanks. Let me query futher.....

What about the he/she and him/her rule?

Might that be he?

or:

Might that be him?

Since "him" is correct, wouldn't that make it whom since it goes with him and who goes with he??

Scott
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That's a good point. Oddly enough, some people would say that it should be "he", in such cases; cf.

1. "This is he/she." (on answering the phone)

This is because the verb "to be" doesn't properly take an object: both sides of the equation in a sentence such as #1 relate to the subject.

But in idiomatic usage, we do indeed say:

2. That's him!

3. Is that them at the door?

etc.

It's an interesting discrepancy.

MrP
So, does this mean that "And whom might that be?" is okay? Or is it wrong no matter what?

Scott
WindersThanks. Let me query futher.....

What about the he/she and him/her rule?

Might that be he?

or:

Might that be him?

Since "him" is correct, wouldn't that make it whom since it goes with him and who goes with he??
Where did you come up with the idea that him is "correct" here? Just because some people use it does not make it somehow "correct", unless by correct you mean acceptable to some people sometimes. Furthermore, why do you care about the word whom and ask when it is correct. The word whom is an ancient relic that is on its way out of use. I predict that it will disappear from the English language, an easy prediction considering its lapse into disuse. People who grow up in the United States are often indoctrinated with how the word whom is somehow more correct than who. If you want to be a pedantic, or if you were so indoctrinated, then feel free to use it. If not, why bother getting into such a habit?
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The positions before and after a form of to be are both nominative case positions. (who, she, he, etc.).
The correct forms therefore never include whom in these structures.

Who is it?
Who is the president?
Who can that be?
Who might that be?
Who will be there?
Who might be in the kitchen?
Who could he be?
Who is she?


The modern convention is, however, to use the object form after the verb to be (never before it), even if this is technically a nominative case position.

That is (him, her, them, etc.).
It is (him, her, them, etc.).

Who is a question word which always ends up before the verb, so is never in a position to be a candidate for the modern convention of subsituting an object form after to be. (I suppose, however, that the rarely occurring question pattern It is who? might possibly be cast as It is whom?, but the intense dislike of whom by many speakers argues against it.)

CJ
Here's a slightly different view:

-----
who(m) in questions

Whom is not often used in informal English. We prefer to use who as an object, especially in questions.

Who did they arrest?
Who did you go with?


We use whom in a more formal style; and we must use whom after a preposition.

Whom did they arrest? (formal)
With whom did you go? (very formal)


Swan, Practical English Usage, p. 435
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WindersSo, does this mean that "And whom might that be?" is okay? Or is it wrong no matter what?

Scott
Hello Scott

"Wrong no matter what."

1. Whom might that be?

2. That's whom?

3. That's him!

4. Who might that be?

CJ's post explains the background here. In a nutshell, #1 and #2 are ungrammatical and unidiomatic; #3 is technically ungrammatical but perfectly idiomatic; #4 is both grammatical and idiomatic.

MrP
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