You're angry, hurt, confused and up for revenge--someone has done wrong to you. You know who but you don't know why.

I don't know how to explain this clearly to learners. I'm not sure I'm totally correct. Thus, I'd be appreciated if you are willing to help with this one. I have seen many posts or arguement here and there about and over the usage of "whom" and "who." You may have your point of view and it's all precious and valued.

I think "you know who" is the most correct way to say and the only way out. I take "who" as somewhat a relative pronoun that specifies someone who has done wrong to you.

"You know who has done wrong to you and you don't know why."

No, there is no room for whom.

What do you think?


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Hey, Pastel!Emotion: smile

The correct grammar for that sentence would be, "You know whom, but you don't know why."

The reason "whom" is correct is that it's the object of the first clause in the sentence. The best way that I can think of to decide whether to use "who" or "whom" is to do it this way...

Divide the sentence into the 2 different clauses. In this example, it would be like this:

"You know who/whom" and the other clause is "You don't know why."

Okay, now that you know what the 2 clauses are, you can decide which word fits in the first clause. I take the sentence and substitute the word "he" for "who" and "him" for "whom" in order to get the right answer. SO...

"You know he." - That sounds HORRIBLE. He is a subjective pronoun, so it doesn't fit.

"You know him." - Since it's an object in the sentence, an objective pronoun should be used. Now, just substitute "whom" for "him", and you have the answer.

Does that help?
Hi! Haoqide,

That helps! I can't disagree any more that "You know he" sounds horrible.

Really?! Do you think the usage of who is very horrible too?
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hehe, yep! It sounds really weird.

You're going to run into a lot of sitations at some point where you don't know which one to choose, even if you seperate the sentence into its clauses. Those will be the fun ones! If you want to speak the most correct English, you'll need to use one, but the other one is the one that sounds good.

For example, this one happened to me in high school:

Me: "Hello?"

My English teacher: "Hi, is Chris there?"

Me: "This is him."

My English teacher: "This is Mrs. Jones."

Me: "Uh, I mean this is HE."

My English teacher: HAHAHAHA.

In that situation, "this is he" is the correct way of doing it. Why, you ask? Because "this" is not a subjective pronoun. It's a demonstrative pronoun, so you can't use it as the subject of the sentence. It's hard to explain, but you basically need to flip the sentence around and think about it this way:

"He is this"


"Him is this"

Obviously, "him" wouldn't work because it's an objective pronoun and not a subjective pronoun, so it sounds weird.

Does anybody have a link or something to a definitive explanation of this rule that may help here?
Pastel - I agree with your original post. I'm sorry, haoqide, but but I just can't imagine saying "you know whom but you don't know why." I think the reason is that "you know who" is a shortened version of "you know who did it." You wouldn't say, "you know him did it," would you?

Let's see what the moderator says.
Whom is a funny word. Often officially 'correct' but very rarely actually used by native speakers. I would choose 'who' in this example.
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Ouch...now that I look at it...you're right! OOPS!!!!! "You know who" IS a shortened form of "you know who did it".

Man, maybe I shouldn't be posting here...ouch.
To add another vote:

I know (the person) who (has done wrong to you), but not why.

"whom" is incorrect in both formal and informal styles.

In modern English, 'who' works as both a subject and an object.



The first story was a nonpartisan analysis of supposed pronoun case errors made by the two candidates in the 1992 US presidential election. George Bush had recently adopted the slogan "Who do you trust?," alienating schoolteachers across the nation who noted that [who] is a subject pronoun and the question is asking about the object of [trust]. One would say [You do trust him], not [You do trust he], and so the question word should be [whom], not [who].

In reply, one might point out that the [who/whom] distinction is a relic of the English case system, abandoned by nouns centuries ago and found today only among pronouns in distinctions like [he/him]. Even among pronouns, the old distinction between subject [ye] and object [you] has vanished, leaving [you] to play both roles and [ye] as sounding completely archaic. [Whom] has outlived [ye], but is clearly moribund, and it already sounds pretentious in most spoken contexts. No one demands of Bush that he say [Whom do ye trust?]. If the language can bear the loss of [ye], using [you] for both subjects and objects, why insist on clinging to [whom], when everyone uses [who] for both subjects and objects?

Safire, with his enlightened attitude toward usage, recognizes the problem, and proposes Safire's Law of Who/Whom, which forever solves the problem troubling writers and speakers caught between the pedantic and the incorrect: "When [whom] is correct, recast the sentence." Thus, instead of changing his slogan to "Whom do you trust?" -- making him sound like a hypereducated Yalie stiff -- Mr. Bush would win back the purist vote with "Which candidate do you trust"?

Telling people to avoid a problematic construction sounds like common sense, but in the case of object questions with [who], it demands an intolerable sacrifice. People ask questions about the objects of verbs and prepositions [a lot]. Consider the kinds of questions one might ask a child in ordinary conversation: Who did we see on the way home? Who did you play with outside tonight? Who did you sound like? (Imagine replacing any of these with [whom]!) Safire's advice is to change such questions to [Which person] or [Which child]. But the advice would have people violate the most important maxim of good prose: Omit needless words. It also subverts the supposed goal of rules of usage, which is to allow people to express their thoughts as clearly and precisely as possible. A question like [Who did we see on the way home?] can embrace one person, many people, or any combination or number of adults, babies, children, and familiar dogs. Any specific substitution like [Which person?] forecloses some of these possibilities. And how in the world would you apply Safire's Law to the famous refrain Who're you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS! Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Safire should have taken his observation about the pedantic sound of [whom] to its logical conclusion and advised the president that there is no reason to change the slogan, at least no grammatical reason.
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