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?
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
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.
"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.
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?