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____ does this bag belong to?

A. Whom

B. Who

Which one should I choose?

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  • "who" and "whom" are both OK. But most speakers will use "who". Jan 6, 2019 at 4:42

1 Answer 1

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"Whom" is the grammatically correct choice although, in the US, even many educated people either misuse "whom" or don't use it at all.

The distinction between "who" and "whom" is the same as that between "he" and "him." The answer you would get to the question posed would be "The bag belongs to him" rather than "The bag belongs to he." So "whom" is the technically correct pronoun.

Now suppose you are wondering whether to ask "Who brought this bag" or "Whom brought this bag." Now the answer you would get would be "He brought the bag." So "who" is the technically correct pronoun.

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  • It's very formal to use "whom", but informal to end a sentence with a preposition. "Who does this bag belong to?" is therefore more natural and it's grammatically correct. "Whom does this bag belong to?" is a mismatch of styles and unnatural in speech. Jan 6, 2019 at 4:58
  • It all depends on how you define grammatical. If you go only by current usage, "who" is grammatically acceptable. I do not advise using it in a PhD dissertation in English. And what is the relevance of placement of the preposition? I did not mention it at all. Jan 6, 2019 at 5:03
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    @user178049 Both who and whom are correct in one sense or another. From a strictly technical (prescriptivist) point of view, only whom is correct. From the sense of common usage (descriptivist point of view), who is correct. In reality, both can be used. You will fall foul of somebody either way, it just depends on if you put priority on being technically accurate or saying something in a way that's more commonly said. Jan 6, 2019 at 16:02

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