Sentence: "There was some doubt as to who the child's real father was."

I have a feeling I should use whom instead: "There was some doubt as to whom the child's real father was."

What is the correct one? How to know which of these two pronouns to use in this sentence?

  • 1
    JavaLatte's answer is correct, although even native speakers will sometimes get "whom" wrong. Also, although formally "be" takes a nominative complement, informally the object form is often used (e.g. "it was him"). Still, "it was who?" and "who was it?" are much more natural and idiomatic (as well as being preferable in terms of traditional grammar) than the "whom" versions. And in general, whenever you hesitate between "who" and "whom", you should err on the side of "who".
    – rjpond
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 1:21
  • Thanks for the contribution!
    – Alan Alves
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


Take a look at this sentence:

The father is John

In this sentence, John is a subject complement. When we use a pronoun as a subject complement, we use a subject pronoun. That means using who rather than whom:

The father is who?

In your sentence, who is a relative pronoun that acts as a subject complement in the relative clause, so who is correct.

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