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He smiled at this girl. This girl (who) he thought didn't exist in the world.

I thought the last sentence sounded strange so I added a who. Or maybe it's unnecessary?

  • You can use who or whom or leave it blank. – user178049 Mar 4 '17 at 7:59
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    The last sentence is not a sentence. It cannot stand on its own. It ought to be linked to the first sentence with a comma rather than a full stop. – Ronald Sole Mar 4 '17 at 9:26
  • What sounds strange to me is didn't exist in the world. It's grammatical, but slightly off, to my ear. There could be a full stop after "didn't exist": "this girl he thought didn't exist." or simply "this girl who didn't exist." with merely an implied reference to his earlier opinion which has proven wrong. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 4 '17 at 12:13
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The relative pronoun that is often omitted in spoken English: other relative pronouns are not usually omitted. If you think that this sentence works, you can omit it:

He smiled at this girl. This girl (that) he thought didn't exist in the world.

| improve this answer | |
  • Q: What's 4 – 5? A: Calculate 5 – 6. (–1, yes.) – user3395 Mar 4 '17 at 11:08
  • @userr2684291 Wait, what's the problem? Is it ..other relative pronoun aren't usually omitted. ? – user178049 Mar 4 '17 at 11:35
  • @user178049 The problem is that this answer isn't an answer to the posed question, just like in my example. The statement you quote is vague, but not incorrect. – user3395 Mar 4 '17 at 11:54
  • @userr2684291 If pronoun in the question were "that", it wouldn't change anything. – user178049 Mar 4 '17 at 12:05
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Without the word whom it reads as if you're referring to a thought which occurred at the same time as the smile but have omitted the commas.

He smiled at this girl. This girl he thought didn't exist in the world.
He smiled at this girl. This girl, he thought, didn't exist in the world.

With the word whom it reads that up to that point in time he thought she didn't exist.

He smiled at this girl. This girl whom he thought didn't exist in the world.

You should use whom not who because it is the object of the verb think.

Also 'in the world' is unnecessary. If she doesn't exist then she doesn't exist in any location.

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  • The he would have written 'in this world'. – Chris M Mar 4 '17 at 7:35
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    Actually, you can edit your post, if you want to add more information. Btw, I disagree that it should be "whom". "Who" just sounds fine. – user178049 Mar 4 '17 at 7:57
  • abacus-es.com/sat/case.htmlPronoun Declension number person gender* Pronouns subject object who whom – Chris M Mar 4 '17 at 8:01
  • @ChrisM: for normal people, that's a rule that's honoured more in the breach than in the observance. – JavaLatte Mar 4 '17 at 8:03
  • It's ok to use who in everyday speech but in formal writing whom should be used. – Chris M Mar 4 '17 at 8:05

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