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What to use here?

Who or whom?

I know who is used when you can replace it with he/she

And whom is when him/her

But what about this context?

Me: I wish I had a girlfriend like her

My friend: You will

Me: Who/whom

Since there is no she or her is mentioned I'm confused about what to use here

  • The question's hard to read. Could you format it? – SovereignSun Nov 21 '17 at 16:45
  • The context is strange. Why would you ask, if you know who is mentioned. – SovereignSun Nov 21 '17 at 16:47
  • By who I meant. Who will be that girl? Common sense. No? – user65161 Nov 21 '17 at 16:51
  • My Russian brain doesn't undersrand this. A better answer would be "When?" and not "Who(m)?". – SovereignSun Nov 21 '17 at 16:54
  • I'd like to wait for other answers and comments. Thanks anyway :) – user65161 Nov 21 '17 at 16:55
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You could make an argument for either: "who (will it be)?" or "whom (will I have as my girlfriend)?".

However, "who?" is definitely the most likely and most idiomatic option.

In general, when hesitating between "who" and "whom", it's better to go for "who" - otherwise you risk being either hypercorrect or excessively formal.

  • Wont I use whom in both of your given examples. I will have her as my girlfriend(whom will I have her my girlfriend). It will be her(whom will It be) – user65161 Nov 22 '17 at 4:31
  • No. Traditionally, "be" is said to take a nominative complement, not a direct object. Forms such as "It is me" are perfectly acceptable in modern English, of course... But we always say "who are you?", "who is he?", "who am I?" - never "whom are you?", "whom is he?", "whom am I?". So, in the "who will it be" example, "who" is the only option. – rjpond Nov 22 '17 at 8:07
  • You gave example of it's me. But what about it's she/her, it's he/him – user65161 Nov 22 '17 at 16:10
  • Traditional formal grammar would recommend "it's she", "it was she/he", etc. In most contexts these now sound too stilted ( explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1771:_It_Was_I ). Nevertheless, I think "whom is it" and "whom will it be" would be hypercorrections and would also be rather unidiomatic. The big difference between "who" and the personal pronouns is that, with the personal pronouns, native speakers treat the object forms as the default or unmarked forms, whereas with "who"/"whom" we treat the subject form ("who") are the default or unmarked form. – rjpond Nov 22 '17 at 20:10
  • Put another way, the form "it is her" has the advantage of being the natural, idiomatic form, while the form "it is she" has the advantage of conforming to traditional prescriptive grammar. By contrast, the form "who is it?" has both the advantage of being natural and the advantage of conforming to traditional rules... whereas "whom is it?" has nothing to recommend it. – rjpond Nov 22 '17 at 20:49
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Yes, I agree with rjpond. If you should use "whom" when it should be "who", you can risk being hypercorrect, and hypercorrectness is repulsive to a lot of people, many of whom will roll their eyes at you or take you less seriously if you should get caught up in hypercorrectness with your grammar. One of the biggest hypercorrections in English is using the subjective pronouns when the objective pronouns should be used or using the subjunctive when the indicative should clearly be used:

between you and I (wrong) = between you and me (correct)

I wondered if / whether he were there (wrong) = I wondered if / whether he was there. (correct)

In the first example, the preposition "between" signals the use of an objective pronoun, but many people have had the "you and I" rule for subjects inculcated into their minds since they were wee children, so they just assume that this is always the case; they fail to understand that the rule only applies when the pronouns are subjects of the clause or phrase rather than objects. In the second instance, people often try to use the past subjunctive "were" whenever they see "if" or "whether" because they think they are supposed to; however, they fail to conceptualize that these subordinating conjunctions don't always take the subjunctive mood. In both instances stated above, they think they're being really correct and formal and, thus, they think they sound smart, but, in reality, they sound really bad. Whenever I hear "whom" and "whomever" used incorrectly, it grates my ear and it can detract from the message the speaker is attempting to convey to me.

As rjpond avers, when in doubt between "who" and "whom", always go with "who" as native speakers consider this to be merely an informal utterance; the opposite, however, is just flat-out ungrammatical.

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