who; whom (5). Today: “Who” in Reference to Nonhumans (i.e., for “that” or “which”). “Who” is the relative pronoun for human beings (though “that” is also acceptable); “that” and “which” are the relative pronouns for anything other than humans, including entities created by humans. But writers too often forget this elementary point — e.g.: o “Many companies, I believe, who [read ‘that’] are busy buying new businesses and bringing in new management teams haven’t even tested the outside edge of their profitability.” Mark H. MacCormack, What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School 203 (1984). o “The best borrowers are grabbed by the banks and financial institutions who [read ‘that’] are in a position now to offer finer rates.” “NBFCs Enter Cul-de-Sac,” Bus. Standard, 25 Oct. 1997, at 13. Language-Change Index — “who” in reference to nonhumans: Stage 1. Next: “Which” for “who” or “whom.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “It is a duty to maintain the continuity of speech that makes the thought of our ancestors easily understood, to conquer Babel every day against the illiterate and the heedless, and to resist the pernicious and lulling dogma that in language — contrary to what obtains in all other human affairs — whatever is is right and doing nothing is for the best.” Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage: A Guide 30 (1966).
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