1

I came across this line

This is the boy that I told you of.

Can I use 'of' with 'that' in this way:

This is the boy of that I told you.

Can I also replace 'that' with 'whom' in this way:

This is the boy whom I told you of.

5
  • Instaead of of, I would use about. And no, the word-juggling does not work, This is the boy of that I told you is not grammatical (it's hardly understandable). Why would you want to juggle those words like that? Please don't tell me it's because of that silly don't end a sentence with a preposition nonsense that you hear so much about!
    – oerkelens
    Dec 15 '17 at 12:58
  • 1
    No, and the reason is that that is a subordinator, not a relative pronoun like "who", "whom", "which" etc.
    – BillJ
    Dec 15 '17 at 13:06
  • This is the boy of whom I told you.
    – mplungjan
    Dec 15 '17 at 14:07
  • @mplungjan You want to say that you can use preceding preposition with all relative pronouns except that.Is it?
    – ashish7249
    Dec 15 '17 at 14:13
  • @ashish7249 ell.stackexchange.com/a/150313/364
    – mplungjan
    Dec 15 '17 at 14:23
2

I'm sure there's a blanket "no" that will come from the team that says you cannot end a sentence with a preposition. I don't play for that team, and accept your initial sentence. I'm ok with or without the "that", but I prefer economy. However, "This is the boy of that I told you." does not work at all for me. It encourages me to "correct" with "This is the boy I told you about", but "of" works too, just not my first choice. I am also one who finds the use of "whom" quite forced, and would avoid it in most cases. So, if the question is whether it sounds natural, I would say no. Wrong?, maybe not, perhaps better to ask somebody who feels comfortable using "whom" in other situations (aside from standard statements like "To Whom It May Concern").

1
  • The crucial point is that *"This is the boy of that I told you" is ungrammatical because "that" is not a relative pronoun like "who", "whom" etc. but a subordinator.
    – BillJ
    Dec 15 '17 at 18:33
1

Once you recognize that "whom" is still a valid word in English (though often misused), there is a very simple way to re-write. However, my feeling is that "whom" is best used close to the verb or preposition of which it is the object because English is no longer a language that syntactically depends on inflection.

I agree with another answer that "talked about" sounds less stilted than "told you of."

Correct and unstilted versions are:

This is the boy that I talked about.

This is the boy about whom I talked.

Correct (but somewhat stilted to my ear):

This is the boy that I told you of.

This is the boy of whom I told you.

This is the boy whom I told you of. (I myself would definitely not write this.)

Incorrect

This is the boy of that I told you.

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