Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: who; whom (2).

who; whom (2). Today: The Objective “who.” “Whom” is always the object of a verb, the object of a preposition, or the subject of an infinitive. E.g.: “Do all you can to develop your intuition — this will help you to know when to act and when to wait, whom to be cautious about and whom to trust.” Susannah Rohland, “Today’s Birthday,” Wash. Times, 9 July 1997, at C16. If a horoscope writer like Rohland can get it right, then you’d think that other journalists would as well. But often they don’t, perhaps because they consider the word stuffy — e.g.: o “And he [nominee Stephen G. Breyer] promised, following the admonition of the late Justice Arthur Goldberg, who [read ‘whom’] he served as a law clerk 30 years ago, to do his best to avoid footnotes.” Ruth Marcus, “Judge Breyer Gets Day in Rose Garden,” Wash. Post, 17 May 1994, at A8. o “Those friends include Myra Guarino, 62, of Valdosta, who [read ‘whom’] Mrs. Helms represents in a suit against the manufacturer of silicone breast implants.” Ronald Smothers, “Small-Town Practice Proves Attractive for Rising Number of Lawyers,” N.Y. Times, 7 July 1995, at A17. In the examples just listed, “who” is defensible as a casualism. But the objective “who” is not idiomatically normal after a preposition. For example, “one of whom” is something of a set phrase — e.g.: o “That sits well with local leaders, one of who [read ‘whom’] drew upon his own analogy to describe the party.” Nancy Cook Lauer, “Maddox Named State Democratic Party Chief,” Tallahassee Democrat, 5 Jan. 2003, at A1. o “Parents proudly whooped it up for the players, not one of who [read ‘one of whom’] wore shoulder pads.” Skip Wood, “San Diego Is Lukewarm to Hype of NFL Title Game,” USA Today, 27 Jan. 2003, at C7. Language-Change Index — (1) “who” as an object not following a preposition: Stage 4; (2) “who” as an object following a preposition: Stage 2. Next: The Nominative “whom.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Books affect people in different ways, but to everybody they are a necessity. They are the food of the brain.” B.L.K. Henderson, Chats About Our Mother Tongue 70 (1927).
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