Is this usage of to at the beginning of the sentence correct?

To whom is she writing a letter all day long?

Is there another way to construct this sentence?


3 Answers 3


There is no rule forbidding the use of a preposition at the head of a sentence. So your sentence is fine.

In conversational English, however, "whom" is not usually used in that it sounds too formal or pretentious to some speakers. We normally use "who" in place of it regardless of whether it functions as an object or as the subject of the sentence. However, "whom" is obligatory when it's preceded by a preposition. So, as an alternative, you can move the preposition and leave it stranded at the end of the clause.

Who is she writing a letter to all day long?


It's correct. You can modify it to "who is she writing a letter to all day long?"

"Whom" is used in formal English; "who", on the other hand, is usually used in informal circumstances.

  • I agree. But I think the OP needs more explanations. Why is it correct? Jul 19, 2017 at 13:53
  • "whom" is used in formal English, well "who" is used in informal way.
    – dan
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:04
  • You should edit your answer to include your explanation of why it is correct to use "To" at the beginning of the sentence. See Submitting Answers that merely answer the question for more information.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:07
  • @dan I help you put that in your answer. If you don't like it, please roll it back. You can also edit it again as ColleenV said. Jul 19, 2017 at 14:13
  • 'Whom' is used in informal English all the time and 'who' in formal English.
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 19, 2017 at 15:22

Yes. The way you wrote that is the most grammatically correct way to write that sentence. There is nothing wrong with an infinitive at the start of a sentence. However, a lot of English speakers will "split" the infinitive, and say,

Whom is she writing a letter to all day long.

By rule, this is improper grammar. It leads to the sin of changing whom to who, (which we all do all the time. Admit it folks) because it's now at the beginning of the sentence. We all do it though, and it does sound cleaner, and at this point, it's a well-accepted part of the language by those who are not "grammar nazis." In common parlance, it's probably even how most people would say it. If someone corrects you, feel free to tell them they're being pedantic and move along.

  • 3
    "To" is a preposition here. Not an infinitive marker. Jul 19, 2017 at 13:52
  • Fluent speakers would not be likely to say "Whom is she writing a letter to all day long."
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:10
  • Read the comments! THERE IS NO INFINITIVE IN THE SENTENCE. Jul 19, 2017 at 23:41

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