I am grateful to those by whom I am surrounded.
I am grateful for the people to whom I am surrounded.
I am grateful to those in which I am surrounded.

I can't get this to sound right to me this morning. I commonly use whom correctly, but have brain hiccup this morning. Please help. Tell me if any are correct or write it correctly for me, please. Thank you!!


The first step is to determine which preposition properly complements the past participle of the verb used adjectivally.

We are surrounded by friends and family.

We are grateful to those who surround us.

We are grateful to those by whom we are surrounded.

We do not say:

We are surrounded to friends and family. ungrammatical

We are surrounded in friends and family. ungrammatical, or marginal

I noted that surrounded in is marginal because surrounded in is permissible when that which surrounds is not made up of discrete individuals with volition and acting in concert but is an enveloping thing:

It is surrounded in mystery.

Hearing surrounded in used in that way, some speakers might say:

I was surrounded in people at the train station.

and mean not that the people encircled him or her, but that it was crowded and he or she was in the midst of the crowd. There were people on all sides. Surrounded in refers to that which surrounds as something inchoate, a mob or crowd in this instance, rather than individuals.

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  • I would add that "I am grateful to those by whom I am surrounded" is grammatical but extremely stiff. I can't imagine someone saying this outside of, say, the most formal award acceptance speech. – mamster Nov 7 '17 at 17:28
  • @Mamster: I'd agree, but the OP's question wasn't really about register. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 7 '17 at 17:30
  • @mamster How would you say it in a way that is not 'extremely stiff'? 'I am grateful to those by who I am surrounded' would sound to me like an ungrammatical mix of formal and informal. – Jakub Nov 7 '17 at 17:44
  • Active voice. "I'm grateful to all the people surrounding me." Or be more specific and say, e.g., "I'm grateful to all the friends and family who have supported me." – mamster Nov 7 '17 at 18:02

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