He is the first person who/whom I know has ever been to Africa.

which relative pronoun works in this context and why?

  • I answered your question as written, though I do wonder whether you actually mean "who I know has ever been to Africa". It would seem more likely that you would want to say "I know who has ever been to Africa".
    – SamBC
    Feb 22, 2019 at 23:11
  • @SamBC Thank you for the answer and pointing out the ambiguity of my sentence, it is really helpful !
    – jammy yang
    Feb 23, 2019 at 10:20

1 Answer 1


Assuming that you aren't producing work to be read by an exceptionally stuffy grammarian who adheres to 19th century prescriptivist grammar, there's a simple rule to follow here.

If in doubt, use who.

This is simply because it is not necessary to use whom in English as it is generally spoken by native speakers. The only time it would seem strange to use who rather than whom is when you've rearranged a sentence to fit the usually-ignored rule against ending a sentence with a preposition:

She is the woman with whom I used to live.

The most natural way to say that for most people is:

She is the woman I used to live with.

But if you rearrange to move the preposition earlier, and use who, it sounds wrong:

She is the woman with who I used to live.

Other than that, just use who - unless you have a stuffy grammarian reading your work.

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