In one of my posts (whose object are "you"?) I said

whose object are "you"

I understand that in the sentence "I need to speak to all of you for a few minutes", "you" is an object of a word or a phrase, but I don't know what that word or phrase is, so I asked

whose object are "you" in this case?

I remember "whose" is usually used with people, so, is idiomatic to say 'whose object are "you"'? If not, how do I ask that question more idiomatically?

1 Answer 1


First, in your example sentence, "you" is the object of the preposition "of".

Now, to ask the question, you could say
"What is the word "you" the object of?"

You are right that you shouldn't use the word "whose" there.
(Note that when you ask about the word "you", you are asking about a thing, not about the people that "you" refers to.)

  • Thank you. Should I use 'What is the word "you" the object of' or 'Which is the word "you" the object of'?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 18, 2020 at 8:38
  • "What...", or "Which word...". Mar 18, 2020 at 16:24
  • @WXJ96163 In general, you should only use "which" when there are two or more clear options to choose from, and you want to limit the choice to only those options. If you're not sure what the options might be, or you don't want to limit the answer to only predetermined options, then "what" is the better word to use. "which" is also usually followed by something to clarify what the options are (e.g. "which word"). In this case, either one will work.
    – Foogod
    Mar 18, 2020 at 23:03
  • @Foogod And Jack I guess I could have said "the object of which is 'you'", right? Please correct me about this here
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 22, 2020 at 7:24
  • "the object of which is 'you'" would be perfectly fine as a subordinate clause (attached to a noun, to add more info), but it is not a question. If you want to ask a question, you will need a form that starts with "what"/"which"/"of which"/etc at the very beginning (e.g. "Of which word is 'you' the object?").
    – Foogod
    Mar 23, 2020 at 16:30

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