I've come across this type of sentence:

I'm asking the name of person was speaking to us.

Could I use "That/Who" here? Like:

[...] Of the person who/that was talking to us

Is it stuffy or grammatically incorrect?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    The sentence you came across is incorrect. I suggest "I'm asking the name of the person who was speaking to us." Mar 16, 2020 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


[...] Of the person who/that was talking to us

In this instance, use the relative pronoun that to link the essential clause.

In general, when referring to a person, use who or whom as the relative pronoun. Also use who or whom when referring to an animal if it has a name and is seen as a person. The possessive form whose can be used for persons, animals, or things. Use of that as the relative pronoun can be used for persons, animals, or things with an essential clause.

  • I'm not sure why you suggest the OP uses "that" in their example. In general there is a preference for "who" when the relativised element is subject, as it is here. Incidentally, modern grammar rejects the analysis of relative "that" as a pronoun, sensibly preferring to analyse it as a subordinator.
    – BillJ
    Mar 17, 2020 at 8:40
  • The subject "person" in this instance is objective to the preposition "of". The relativity here is "us" to whom "that" person was talking. You are correct that "who" would be used in the subjective case. Without the preposition, "who" would be relative to the subject of the sentence "The person who was talking to us."
    – Katherine
    Mar 17, 2020 at 14:38
  • Case is irrelevant. "Who" is subject of the relative clause. "I'm asking the name of the person [who was speaking to us]" is fine". "That" is possible too, but certainly not obligatory.
    – BillJ
    Mar 17, 2020 at 15:09
  • @BillJ ... Good point. This conflict seems to be that our perspectives are a matter of interpretation. I see "name" as the subject of the sentence and "speaking to us" as the relative clause to "the person" requiring "that"; whereas you see "name of the person" as the subject which would require use of "who". Thank you for pointing this out.
    – Katherine
    Mar 17, 2020 at 15:42

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