12

I was wondering if it's correct to omit who in the following sentence:

I haven't found anyone else who had mentioned this before.

and say it like this:

I haven't found anyone else had mentioned this before.

The reason I'm asking this question is that in my mother tongue, you can omit who in such sentences without any change in the meaning, but a friend of mine thinks that it would be totally wrong in English.

3
  • 7
    I think that in some dialects of English this may be acceptable. But in "standard" English, the answers are quite right: without who it sounds very ambiguous.
    – stangdon
    Jan 5 at 12:40
  • 1
    @stangdon: I guess your "some dialects" includes those that consider "have dove into the sea" and "would of thought so" and "their in the house" to be correct.
    – user21820
    Jan 6 at 17:58
  • i think like...informally yes but formally no?
    – BCLC
    Jan 6 at 21:27

4 Answers 4

29

With the pronoun who, whose referent is anyone else, the sentence ends with a relative clause.

If you omit who, it sounds as if it means this:
I haven't found that anyone else had mentioned this before.
(that can sometimes be omitted.)
In that case, it's the entire that clause that wasn't found.

The meaning may be the same, in effect, but it sounds clumsy with both who and that omitted.

3
  • 1
    An alternate version that has a similar meaning is "I haven't found if anyone else had mentioned this before." Replacing "that" with "if" also prevents the sentence from sounding clumsy. Jan 5 at 18:44
  • 9
    I think there's a subtle difference in meaning. With who, the statement seems to allow the possibility that it had been mentioned, but the person making the statement was not able to locate anyone who had mentioned it. With that, the statement seems to assert that the person making the statement has not found any reason to think it had been mentioned at all. Very slight and admittedly implicit difference, but a possible difference. Jan 5 at 23:47
  • @ToddWilcox Good point. Jan 6 at 2:09
12

In the sentence "I haven't found anyone else who had mentioned this before" you cannot omit who because it is the subject of the verb of the relative clause.

But this doesn't mean that your other sentence is wrong. "I haven't found anyone else had mentioned this before" is a perfectly valid sentence but it carries a different meaning. This latter sentence has two clauses that are:

  • I haven't found
  • (that) anyone else had mentioned this before.

And the conjunction "that" is often omitted.

Your original sentence divides into clauses like this:

  • I haven't found anyone else
  • who had mentioned this before
6
  • 3
    "That" can often be omitted, but in this case it sounds very awkward to my ear. I would recommend leaving it in.
    – MJD
    Jan 5 at 17:37
  • 3
    Without it, though, it's almost Shakespearian. A nice iambic heptameter. EDIT: Note that sounding Shakespearian may not typically be desirable in modern conversation. Jan 5 at 17:53
  • 1
    No, the second sentence is wrong. The "second clause" that you've parsed out would be someone else had mentioned this before, not anyone else. Using anyone in this way is incorrect. Jan 6 at 2:34
  • @DarrenRinger I daresay it would even be counter to the flow of modern conversation Jan 6 at 10:02
  • It might be helpful to state explicitly that "whom," when it is the direct object of the verb of the relative clause, can sometimes be omitted: "I haven't found anyone else [whom] I liked as much."
    – DLosc
    Jan 6 at 18:35
2

Also, you might slightly rearrange/shorten the sentence to "I haven't found this mentioned before."

If you are wanting to emphasize not only that you've not "found anyone mention this before", but haven't even found whether-or-not anyone mentioned it... it is more formally correct to say you've not "found whether anyone mentioned this before", rather than "found if anyone...".

(The even fuller, but by now archaic, phrase is "whether or not".)

1

You can omit who by changing the verb:

I haven't found anyone else mentioning this before

In this form (participle), the verb "mentioning" serves directly as an adjective of "anyone else".

1
  • 1
    You should not say "adjective" when you mean "modifier". They aren't the same thing.
    – tchrist
    Jan 6 at 15:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .