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I'm learning about relative pronouns, and I saw a sentence in my workbook as below:

  • He was talking with the woman the name of whom I couldn't remember.

I guess this sentence could be rewritten as follows:

  • He was talking with the woman whom I couldn't remember the name of.

Then, my questions are:

  1. Is the second sentence correct grammatically?
  2. If so, without the last word "of" in the second sentence, could it be a correct or comprehensible sentence?

Thank you for help.

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  • The second sentence without "of" will be incorrect and non-understandable. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 14:29
  • You mean, without "of", the possessor of "the name" becomes ambiguous? If that, could "He was talking with the woman whom I couldn't remember her name. " be understandable? Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 16:36
  • Yes, it does seem ambiguous without "of". I don't think the sentence you just said makes sense either. The sentence posted in the answer, i.e use of "whose" is the best alternative. Though I my opinion the sentence mentioned in your workbook is also grammatically correct. The revised version doesn't seem wrong either, though you should probably follow what the answer points. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 16:50
  • I understand! Thank you for your comment! Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 17:25
  • Anytime! Happy to help. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 17:33

1 Answer 1

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"Whom" should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition.

He was talking with the woman the name of whom I couldn't remember.

This is correct because you are using it with the preposition "of".

He was talking with the woman whom I couldn't remember the name of.

This doesn't sound so good. You've ended the sentence with the preposition, which some people say is outright wrong, but actually is quite common in informal speech. However, the use of "whom" is considered fairly formal, and lots of native speakers get it wrong. I guess what I'm saying is that the same people who would complain about incorrect use of who/whom would also pull you up for ending a sentence on a preposition.

You'd be much better saying:

He was talking with the woman whose name I couldn't remember.

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  • Interesting to me. I've heard that "whom" is formal, and some people are strict about the way to use it. But I had no idea whether ending a sentence with a preposition or not also matters. Helpful information. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 16:57

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