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Picture of Kalleh
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This sentence was in the Tribune this morning, and I swear it should be "who" and not "whom." Am I right, or is the columnist? Or both of us?

"Experts speculated on whom the leaker might have been."

[Yikes! Edited "write" to be "right."]

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We prigs consider "whom" to be the object of a preposition, but now we get laughed at.
 
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Experts speculated on [ whom the leaker might have been [_]]

"Whom" is not the object of the preposition. The entire clause is the object of the preposition. The blank represents the complement of "have been" that has been extracted to the front of the clause. We normally use nominatives after "be" so I'm going with "who".

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quote:
Originally posted by goofy:
We normally use nominatives after "be"


Wait, I'm wrong. We normally use accusatives after "be". So it "should" be "whom". I would never use "whom" in this sentence, but I would never use "whom" in general.

Unless you think we should use nominatives after "be", as in:
Who's there? It is I.
In which case it "should" be "who".
 
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My mother, a middle school English teacher, told this joke:

Clancy, an Irish steelworker, died and went to heaven. At the pearly gates Saint Peter said, "Who's there?" "It's me, Clancy," was the reply. St Pete said, "Well, Clancy, me boy, come on in!" Next an Italian artist died and arrived at the Pearly gates and said, "It's-a me, Gian-Carlo!" St Pietro, said, "Benevenuto, come right in!" Next a prim looking American woman showed up. St Peter again said, "Who's there" The woman replied, "It is I, Marie Wilson." St Peter, Clancy and Gian-Carlo looked at each other and simultaneously blurted, "Go to hell, you damned school teacher!"

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Really - it's whom? I'd like a second opinion. Here's how I see it: The entire clause is the object; you are right. So - shouldn't the object be "who the leaker would have been" or put differently, "the leaker would have been who." As Geoff says above, one would say, "it is I (which I always do), so shouldn't it be "would have been who?" Had the object merely been "who," of course it should have been "whom." But that wasn't the case.
 
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Actually I think it should be "who" but not for the reason I gave. It should be "who" because that's the only sensible choice. "Whom" is "like some strange object — a Krummhorn, a unicycle, a wax cylinder recorder — found in grandpa's attic: people don't want to throw it out, but neither do they know what to do with it."

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl...archives/001437.html

Don't blame it on the kids today, we've been mixing up "who" and "whom" since the 14th century.
 
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I figured "who" from the outset (before reading other posts). "He might have been who": "he" & "who", like in an equation. It could only have been "whom" in a sentence like, "The leaker might have been the one whom others suspected." But in this sentence, the leaker is not the object.
 
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Lau. Can nothing speake? Master, shall I strike?
Pro. Who wouldst thou strike?
Lau. Nothing.
- Two Gentlemen of Verona III i, Folio 1


Boyet. Now Madam summon vp your dearest spirits,
Consider who the King your father sends:
To whom he sends, and what's his Embassie.
- Love's Labour's Lost II i, Folio 1


For certaine friends that are both his, and mine,
Whose loues I may not drop, but wayle his fall,
Who I my selfe struck downe
- Macbeth III i, Folio 1


Alb. Run, run,O run.
Edg. To who my Lord? Who ha's the Office?
- King Lear V iii, Folio 1


Ile
speake to him againe. What do you read my Lord?
Ham. Words, words, words.
Pol. What is the matter, my Lord?
Ham. Betweene who?
Pol. I meane the matter you meane, my Lord.
- Hamlet II ii, Folio 1


Iago. Not this houre Lieutenant: 'tis not yet ten
o'th'clocke. Our Generall cast vs thus earely for the
loue of his Desdemona: Who, let vs not therefore blame;
- Othello II ii, Folio 1


they now are in my powre;
And in these fits, I leaue them, while I visit
Yong Ferdinand (whom they suppose is droun'd)
And his, and mine lou'd darling.
- The Tempest III iii, Folio 1


Spare not the Babe
Whose dimpled smiles from Fooles exhaust their mercy;
Thinke it a Bastard, whom the Oracle
Hath doubtfully pronounced, the throat shall cut,
And mince it sans remorse.
- Timon of Athens IV iii, Folio 1


And others more, going to seeke the graue
Of Arthur, whom they say is kill'd to night, on your (suggestion.
- King John IV ii, Folio 1


But such a one thy vassall, whom I know
Is free for me to aske, thee to bestow.
- All's Well that Ends Well II i, Folio 1


Elb. My wife Sir? whom I detest before heauen, and
your honour.
Esc. How? thy wife?
Elb. I Sir: whom I thanke heauen is an honest wo-
man.
- Measure for Measure II i, Folio
 
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When did Shakespeare emerge as a language expert? And hasn't language changed since then?

It seems ridiculous to debate who/whom since no one else seems to care. Everyone who has ever used "whom" on TV seems to affect a smug and superior attitde when they do.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
When did Shakespeare emerge as a language expert?


Isn't he supposed to be the language's greatest writer? If he's not an expert, who is?

quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
And hasn't language changed since then?


This particular usage has not changed. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage: "our evidence shows that present-day uses of who and whom are in kind just about the same as they were in Shakespeare's day. What sets up apart form Shakespeare is greater self-consciousness: the 18th-century grammarians have intervened and given us two two sets of critics to watch our whos and whoms [...] But this greater self-consciousness appears to have changed actual usage very little."

The usage is "who" and "whom" as the object, with "who" most usual at the beginning of the sentence, and sometimes after a preposition or verb. "Whom" as the subject is used when there is a parenthetical insertion, as in "whom I thanke heauen is an honest woman." When the parenthetical insertion is set off by punctuation, then "who" is more common:

I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong:
Who (you all know) are Honourable men.
- Julius Caesar III ii, Folio 1

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In keeping with the subject (Am I Right?), while watching the Tour I heard an announcer say the rider was {x] kilometers from the finish.He pronounced it KILL-oh-meet-ter but I've been taught it was kill-'AH-met-ter. It's bad enough we're being forced to forsake our inefficient measurements. Now they want to alter the pron. I object (unless this is a pond thing, in which case we can ignore it).


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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It's a pond thing.
 
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quote:
It seems ridiculous to debate who/whom since no one else seems to care
Well, I do, since I brought the whole subject up.

quote:
Isn't he supposed to be the language's greatest writer? If he's not an expert, who is?
Good question, Goofy. I don't necessarily see Shakespeare as our "greatest writer," and I don't think there is one, and only one, expert. On the other hand, I love Shakespeare. And, the experts are not those who think they are (like Strunk & White, even though White violates his own rules). I guess I see writing over the years as being the "experts," and certainly there will always be controversy.

Like Bethree, I never would have considered "whom" in this case, for the same reason that she stated.
 
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Here is what I teach with regard to whom.

1. Learn the rules from your grammar books.
2. Use the rules when you take your gao kao (University entrance exam)
3. Forget the rules as soon as you walk out of the exam room.
4. For the rest of your live pretend you never heard the word and NEVER EVER use it.

I take a pragmatic approach.
 
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Old English hwām is the dative, and the accusative is hwone. In Middle English the spelling whom occurs as indirect object, direct object, and subject. Lowth decided that whom should only be used for the object, but other 18th century grammarians allowed who as the object because it sounded more natural.

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quote:
It seems ridiculous to debate who/whom since no one else seems to care
Well, I do, since I brought the whole subject up.

I meant it in a general sense and was not referring to your personal foibles.
Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to finally find a way to use "foibles."


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Oh, I do like the word foibles!
 
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Here'a an interesting sentence in a story about Jack Nicholson. I think I would have it to "who he had children with."

...actress Rebecca Broussard, with whom he also had children with.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
Here'a an interesting sentence in a story about Jack Nicholson. I think I would have it to "who he had children with."

...actress Rebecca Broussard, with whom he also had children with.


According to the "traditional rule", with whom he also had children or whom he also had children with. whom is the object of the preposition here, unless there is more to the sentence that I am missing.

According to many good writers of English since the 14th century who presumably knew what they were doing, who he also had children with.
 
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...but it only needed one "with". Beginning or final, either will do, but the second one is redundant.
 
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The redundant preposition has been happening for a long time as well.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl...archives/004465.html
 
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quote:
The redundant preposition has been happening for a long time as well.

Doesn't make it right.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
quote:
The redundant preposition has been happening for a long time as well.

Doesn't make it right.


I never said it did!
 
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