What is the correct usage in the sentence:

“I am the one for who / whom the cafe was kept open.”

Since who / whom refers to the subject “I”, would the subjective case “who” be correct?

  • 5
    @BMofSpadana: yes, but without the comma. Jan 17, 2022 at 9:12
  • 1
    @BMofSpadana: No, the misplaced comma and ending a sentence on a preposition make for a worse sentence than simply misusing “whom.”
    – Cosmic
    Jan 17, 2022 at 14:33
  • 4
    @cosmic, there is nothing at all wrong with ending a sentence on a preposition. The misplaced comma can and should be removed, leaving "I'm the one the cafe was kept open for." as a better choice. Or "person" could be used in place of "one". Or one could say "The cafe was kept open for me" which is shorter and avoids the final preposition. Jan 17, 2022 at 17:23
  • Or you can simply say, "I'm the one the café was kept open for. Jan 18, 2022 at 8:22

4 Answers 4


While "I" is the subject of the main clause, "who/whom" is part of the relative clause, and refers to the object of the preposition "for". The subject of that clause is "the cafe", not "I".

It's easier to see if we split the two clauses in your sentence into two separate sentences. It now looks something like this:

I am the one. The cafe was kept open for me.

"The cafe" is the subject of the clause with "for me". The word "me" is the object of "for". To connect the two clauses, we first replace "me" with an appropriate relative pronoun:

I am the one. The cafe was kept open for whom.

"Whom" is appropriate here because it's the object of the preposition "for", and "for who" is bad grammar.

Next, we move "for" and its relative pronoun object to the front of the clause:

I am the one for whom the cafe was kept open.

Although "I" and "whom" happen to mean the same person, grammatically they are two different nouns from different clauses.

  • 2
    Thank you! I knew “whom” was correct and that the sentence could have been framed differently to avoid the use of who/whom altogether. But I read this sentence construction somewhere and wondered why it was correct. Thank you for the explanation.
    – Grammar123
    Jan 17, 2022 at 9:22

"Whom" is the technically correct word in this construction, as the answer by user gotube explains. But "whom" is rapidly becoming obsolete. Many native speakers no longer use it in any construction. Thus I would suggest rewording this without "whom" such as:

I am the one that the cafe was kept open for.

This carries the same meaning and avoids the who/whom issue.

Particularly in speech one will often hear fluent and native speakers use "who" where "whom" is grammatically called for. One should be ready to accept and understand such usage, and it may become standard within the lifetime of people currently adult. In informal speech, it is probably best to avoid "whom" totally, as some will (wrongly) consider it affected or pompous.

  • 1
    Great point. In fact, in the OP's example sentence is a case in point for the disappearance of "whom". If we only front "who/whom", and leave the "for" at the end of the sentence -- which is more common in modern English -- we get, "I am the one who OR whom the cafe was kept open for. Grammatically, it should be "whom", but because people find "whom" pompous, "who" is acceptable.
    – gotube
    Jan 17, 2022 at 8:40
  • @gotube I usually come across who/whom sentences where a preposition is placed just before the relative pronoun as long as it is whom (I am the one for whom the cafe was kept open), and at the end of the sentence otherwise (I am the one who the cafe was kept open for). Isn't there any difference if we use for who in this case? Jan 17, 2022 at 12:41
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    I'd go even further than saying whom is rapidly becoming obsolete and say it already is in actual speech and informal writing, just with formal styleguides lagging behind usage as usual. For the given sentence, I'd probably drop the relativiser entirely going for "I am the one the cafe was kept open for" , or even "the cafe was kept open for me"
    – Tristan
    Jan 17, 2022 at 13:27
  • 2
    @Mergasov "for who" (together) is always incorrect.
    – gotube
    Jan 17, 2022 at 19:27
  • 1
    @Tristan "Obsolete" is a big word. People still do use "whom", and though it may sound old-fashioned, we cannot say it's obsolete until people no longer use it at all.
    – gotube
    Jan 17, 2022 at 19:30

No, "whom" is correct.

"Who" is the nominative case—it is used when the word itself is the subject, such as in the sentence "Who is that man?"

All other cases of the word use "whom," as in "For whom was the store kept open?" ("the store" being the subject of that sentence).


I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that "for" is a "dative preposition" in English, so that every time a noun phrase follows "for", it will be in the dative case, i.e. you will always use "whom", never "who", every time it follows "for".

This might be me projecting my high-school-level German classes onto English too much, though?

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