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Hello!

I basically know how do use who/whom. But I got confused in two sentences.

"Neither Liseli nor I know who/whom it was." If you took who would it say: "Who the person was who did it"?! Could whose work as well?

"Who/whom should I ask about this?" I would say whom, but I have read who so I am confused now.

Do you actually say whom when you speak/talk? Your is it just a formal thing which is used in writing?

Thanks in advance

Jake
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Swiss JakeHello!

I basically know how do use who/whom. But I got confused in two sentences.

"Neither Liseli nor I know who it was." If you took who would it say: "Who the person was who did it"?! Could whose work as well?

"whom should I ask about this?" I would say whom, but I have read who so I am confused now.

Do you actually say whom when you speak/talk? Your is it just a formal thing which is used in writing?

Thanks in advance

Jake
In writing, I'm especially careful. In speech, I try to be "correct" unless it would sound awkard, stuffy or pedantic.
Do you actually say whom when you speak?

No, no, no!!! I avoid it at all costs. Americans, even the educated, will substitute "who" for "whom" almost everywhere except after a preposition, and everything possible is done to rephrase the sentence so that not even that eventuality occurs!

In writing, "whom" shows up more often, yes!

CJ
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Americans substitute "who" for "whom" only in oral English.
Hello Swiss Jake,

Are you a German-speaking Swiss? If yes, then this should help a bit:
'Whom' is used in the accusative case, which is very obvious in German inflections but only seen in English prounouns, e.g. him, her, us, and whom. However, where in German there are two distinctive cases, accusative and dative, in Modern English there's only one case, which comprises both the accusative and the dative. This case is called objective.

So have a look at the following sentences:

a. I saw the man who won the prize.
(German: Ich habe den Mann gesehen der den Preis gewonnen hat.)

'who' in this relative clause is the subject of the verb won, so the nominative case is required, just as it is clearly seen in German.

b. He is the man whom I admire.
(German: Er ist der Mann den ich bewundere.)

Here 'whom' is the object of the verb admire, therefore the objective case is required. Compare the Accusative den in German.

Hope this helps.

Kat
A less technical solution is to replace who with he; if it makes sense, who is correct.

Ex. I don't know who(m) he is. (He he is does not make sense; it is whom he is--He is him)

Ex. He is an odd man, who(m) also has dark hair. (He also has dark hair makes sense; it is who has...)

I always use whom in speech.
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Swiss JakeDo you actually say whom when you speak/talk? Your is it just a formal thing which is used in writing?

Another opinion, to add to your collection:

I never use "whom" in speech, except in parody; in written English, I use it after prepositions (by whom, for whom).

I live in the hope that, one day, a historian of language will somehow demonstrate that questioning "Whom?" is in fact a deeply unEnglish solecism, which some ancient inflection-crazed non-native grammarian inflicted on a young and all-too-trusting nation. (Or better still, a dative.)

MrP
Hi Archaic,

I am afraid your first example is incorrect. It should be 'I don't know who he is' instead of 'I don't know whom he is'.
Good catch, rishonly!
Equative sentences don't have any accusatives (i.e., objects)!
This is just an example of a copulative verb connecting a subject to another nominative.
Therefore, theoretically, "whom" would not occur in such sentences.

Nevertheless, since we use the object cases frequently in structures like

It is him.
It is them.


there may be an argument in favor of the use of whom in I know whom it is.

On the other hand, most grammarians I've read say that the object case comes about when the pronoun follows the verb. This is clearly not the case in "I know whom it is", so I don't believe that I personally would buy an argument in favor of "whom" in this situation.

CJ
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