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Michael Swan refers to the whom-clause as "not generally considered correct." In his book, he mentions an example for a 'whom-clause' :

This is a letter from my father, whom we hope will be out of hospital soon.

He says the above sentence will be "more correct" with who in place of whom.

My questions

  1. Is the the sentence with whom still correct?

  2. I always thought that whom is used in relation to an object rather than a subject, as in:

She is the woman whom you met at my wedding last year.

Restrictiveness aside, I see no difference between Swan's sentence and the above example. Am I missing something here?

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    To see the difference, try extracting the whom-clause from the rest of the sentence and see if it makes more sense with he/she or him/her. We hope him will be out of hospital soon? No, we hope he will, so it must be who. You met her at the wedding or you met she at the wedding? You met her, so it must be whom. – stangdon Aug 25 '16 at 21:32
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    @stangdon That should be written as an answer. – James K Aug 25 '16 at 22:35
  • A pertinent thread is here, complete with quotes from Swan. It's who by a landslide on the OP's question. – P. E. Dant Aug 25 '16 at 23:45
  • @JamesK - Thank you. I've expanded the comment slightly into an answer. – stangdon Aug 26 '16 at 0:11
  • @P. E. Dant - Thanks for the link. What does "it's who by a landslide on the OP's question" mean? You mean who is more correct than whom for Swan's sentence? – user40213 Aug 26 '16 at 0:30
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You are correct about whom being used for objects. The first sentence is more correct with who, but frankly you will probably hear a lot of people "hyper-correcting" it into whom, because they think that's more educated or more correct.

To tell whether you should use who or whom, try extracting the whom-clause from the rest of the sentence and see if it makes more sense with he/she or him/her. If it's he or she, the subject pronouns, then it should be who, but if it's him or her, the object pronouns, then it should be whom.

For the first sentence,

we hope __ will be out of hospital soon

We hope him will be out of hospital soon? No, we hope he will, so we should use who.

For the second sentence,

you met ___ at my wedding last year

You met her at the wedding or you met she at the wedding? In this case, you met her, so we should use whom.

  • Very concise and understandable. So, according to your explanation, the following is perfectly correct: This is a letter from my father, whom we have not seen for ages. In this sentence, whom is the subject of see, and for that whom is the correct pronoun, right? – user40213 Aug 26 '16 at 0:23
  • @William - Correct! – stangdon Aug 26 '16 at 0:30
  • Thank you! Sorry I made a mistake. I meant "whom is the object of seen" :) – user40213 Aug 26 '16 at 0:36
  • @William Actually, you didn't make a mistake. We "name" a verb as its infinitive, which in the case of your example is see. – P. E. Dant Aug 26 '16 at 1:48
  • @P.E. Dant - It's not about see vs. seen. The mistake I made was saying that whom was the subject while in fact it is the object of the verb, be it see or seen. – user40213 Aug 26 '16 at 2:17
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Your sentence

This is a letter from my father, whom we hope will be out of hospital soon.

is understandable, but should be

This is a letter from my father, who we hope will be out of hospital soon.

meaning

...we hope he will be to of the hospital soon.

If instead the sentence was phrased as

...we hope the hospital will release him soon.

your sentence could be phrased as

This is a letter from my father, whom we hope the hospital will release soon.

However,

This is a letter from my father, who we hope the hospital will release soon.

would probably also be understood.

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