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This is a spin-off from:

The difference between 'who' and 'whom'

where (among other things) the sentence

1. '*Whom was given the book?'

was discussed.

I understand that in AmE, this sentence is acceptable:

2. Whom did you give the book?

If 'whom' is acceptable in #2 for 'to whom', is 'whom' acceptable in #1 for 'to whom'? If so, is #1 acceptable as an inversion, with 'book' as subject?

3. 'Whom (IO) was given the book (S)?

i.e. 'the book was given to whom?'

Just curious.

MrP
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Comments  (Page 5) 
Ah! That's much better than the kind of thing I was thinking of.

It self-enacts, too.

'The lions were given to eating Christians as their main course'?

MrP
I haven't had a chance to study the entire thread yet, so I'm posting in media res.

1. All language is prescriptive (with the exception of phonetics, which has a demonstrable basis in anatomy); just like any other sort of social behavior. There are no "generative grammar" rules that are hardwired into our brains. For an excellent analysis and refutation of the Chomsky/Pinker nativist position, read "Educating Eve" by linguist Geoffrey Sampson.

2. I can only say: "Who did we offer the job to last year?"

This, of course, should be "Whom did we offer the job to last year?"
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
MrPedanticThis is a spin-off from:

Post:77524

where (among other things) the sentence

1. '*Whom was given the book?'

was discussed.

I understand that in AmE, this sentence is acceptable:

2. Whom did you give the book?

If 'whom' is acceptable in #2 for 'to whom', is 'whom' acceptable in #1 for 'to whom'? If so, is #1 acceptable as an inversion, with 'book' as subject?

3. 'Whom (IO) was given the book (S)?

i.e. 'the book was given to whom?'

Just curious.

MrP

To answer this question we need to look at the sentence:

I was given the book.

At first glance this looks like a passive construction in which "I" is the subject of the sentence. A moment's reflection, however, and we realise that the subject of the sentence is "book". It is the book that is given, and not "I". The construction is of course perfectly acceptable standard English, but has the peculiarities that (a) the indirect object is expressed by "I" and (b) it does not follow usual word order.

How did this happen? It goes back to the days when word order in English was more flexible. The standard construction (using Modern English words) was:

Me was given the book.

When word order became less flexible and subjects of a sentence had to come before the verb, the construction persisted, but people began to feel that "me" at the beginning of a sentence was not quite right and so they changed it to "I" ( and equally "him" to "he", "her" to "she" and so on). This naturally permitted you to say:

John was given the book.

We are now at the stage where Me was given the book has to be considered ungrammatical. To ask the question "Is 'Whom was given the book?' correct?" is to express an awareness that there is something odd going on. I think though the answer to the question can only be "yes" if the form Me was given the book is correct, which it is not.