Study: College Students Get an A in Narcissism

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Did I use it wrongly? :D I still find parsing clause elements a nightmare, so every trial balloon is a gamble.

Sorry, I'm a massive pedant, you'll have to excuse me.

It's 'who' when it refers to the object of a noun, like it does in your sentence ("Who is the recipient of this letter?") and 'whom' when it's the subject ("Whom is the letter addressed to?").

Like I said, sorry!

Edit: according to the page linked to down there, I've got object and subject the wrong way around. Bugger, always get those two mixed up. I knew what I meant...
 
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Guybrush

Dittohead
Aha, I think I see what you mean. So for it to be correct it would have to be ‘those whom they think end up below it are not’? Or, wait a minute, I’m not sure about that one either, as ‘they think’ can be seen as a sub-clause (the right term?). :confused: I try to follow the advice given here.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Hmm. In "those who end up...", it's the 'who' that's doing the ending-up (object).
In "those whom they think end up...", I think it should still be 'who', as it's the 'who' that's still doing the ending-up, despite the added clause about 'they'. Then again, it could be said that 'whom' is the subject of 'think' as well. Tricky - but you could circumvent it by saying "those they think end up", and dispensing with who/whom altogether.

Oh fuck. Some appalling sub-At The Drive-In twat-rock band has just started playing in the room above me. The perils of having an office in the same building as the student union - cold be my cue to go home...
 

shudder

Well-known member
Sorry, I'm a massive pedant, you'll have to excuse me.

It's 'who' when it refers to the object of a noun, like it does in your sentence ("Who is the recipient of this letter?") and 'whom' when it's the subject ("Whom is the letter addressed to?").

Like I said, sorry!
hmmm... I think you have that backwards, no? Normally "pedants" insist who must be used "nominatively" (i.e., by analogy to Latin, when it is the *subject*), while whom is the objective (used for objects). Your two examples are right by these rules, however. In the first case, who is "nominative" because it can be thought of as occupying the "subject complement" spot (i.e. in "The recipient is who"). In the second case, whom in "objective" because it can be thought of as occupying the object slot of the prepositional phrase headed by "to", i.e. ("The letter is addressed to whom?").

Now, I've got scare quotes around "nominative" and "objective" because they are misleading to say the least. "Nominative" (I, he, she, who, etc.) forms do not always appear in subject position, and "objective" or "accusative" (Me, him, her, whom) forms do not always appear in object positions. Since at least Shakespeare, writers have very often used who and whom in both places. It is not until the 18th century English grammarians that, again on spurious analogy from Latin, people thought you *needed* to use "whom" in all object slots.

The facts of actual usage are of course more complicated and apparently seem not to have changed much since Shakespeare's time (in written English; in spoken English, whom is quite rare and mostly found in self-consciously formal or elite dialects). Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage has a great section on the whole thing, with loads of examples. This paragraph sums up some of the facts nicely:

"To repeat, our evidence shows that present-day uses of who and whom are in kinds just about the same as they were in Shakespeare's day. What sets us apart from Shakespeare is great self-consciousness: the 18th-century grammarians have intervened and given a reason to watch our whos and whoms."
 

shudder

Well-known member
Mr. Tea: I think I see what's going on here... you have the words "subject" and "object" backwards.

1) Sam threw the ball.

In (1), Sam is the subject, and the ball is the object.

(edit: sorry if that example sounds kinda insulting or condescending by its simplicity! Not intended at all! Years of linguistics makes you use the simplest examples possible...)
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Mr. Tea: I think I see what's going on here... you have the words "subject" and "object" backwards.

1) Sam threw the ball.

In (1), Sam is the subject, and the ball is the object.

(edit: sorry if that example sounds kinda insulting or condescending by its simplicity! Not intended at all! Years of linguistics makes you use the simplest examples possible...)
Yup, hence the edit in my original posts. Like I said, *I* knew what I meant! As a self-confessed/proclaimed pedant it behoves me to at least get it fucking right. :eek:
 
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shudder

Well-known member
It's ok. It's almost impossible to be a pedant without making mistakes yourself in your corrections! :) AND, your comments on statistics are not only spot on but well worth repeating! Linguistic analysis and statistics are brethren in the sense that people love to blab on about them but always seem to misunderstand, well, everything.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I'd plump for "those who they think end up", since the basic structure of this sentence fragment isn't changed by making in "those who they think will (or might, should etc.) end up", which is clearly correct compared to "those whom they think will end up". I think. Maybe.

Edit: ta, shudder, I do my best!
 

Guybrush

Dittohead
I was wishing for an unshakable truth, but that will do. I am gonna give your grammar-guy a try. Very esoteric stuff so far. :confused:
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I like what a mate of mine said on another messageboard in a discussion about plural possessives: "WARNING! This is extremely advance apostrophe usage, and uninformed meddling by amateurs may summon elder gods".
 

bruno

est malade
Just that do you think you are?
lol tea, no, that this and that instead who this and that (referring to a person).

removing the which or whom is a good idea but it sweeps the problem under the bed. it seems to me whom is more impersonal, or distant, formal. yes, it is very esoteric! i have a hard time explaining these things as i don't know the rules very well myself (only intuitively, and i make mistakes).

the command of english on this board is a bit intimidating, i have to admit, but in a good way. one learns a lot.
 
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nomadologist

Guest
It's ok. It's almost impossible to be a pedant without making mistakes yourself in your corrections! :) AND, your comments on statistics are not only spot on but well worth repeating! Linguistic analysis and statistics are brethren in the sense that people love to blab on about them but always seem to misunderstand, well, everything.
The worst people with stats and linguistic analysis are the news media. Don't get me started...
 
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