I think that 'who' is not good here because it is in front of a preposition. 'whom' seems to be grammatically ok. A paper I've been reading is written as following.

Who? or Whom? which is correct here?

Jocelyn, having such a peculiar propensity, goes from London back to the Isle of Slingers, his homeland, and then sees that “the Well-Beloved” abides in Avice the First, from who he has to keep his distance because of the island’s custom regarding premarital sex and the deeply rooted differences in their understandings and attitudes toward sexuality.


1 Answer 1


This piece appears to be from Thomas Hardy, who called the Isle of Portland, in Dorset, the 'Isle of Slingers' in his Wessex novels.

According to formal grammar guidance, 'whom' is the required pronoun when referring to the object of a verb or preposition. Over the last 200 years, its use has been on a steady decline.

In modern English usage 'whom' is somewhat formal and old-fashioned, although it does still sometimes appear in academic and official forms of writing. 'Who' is the modern equivalent that can be used either formally or informally and in spoken and written forms.

Who vs whom (Thesaurus.com)

A learner in England wants to know what the rules are for using 'who' and 'whom' (BBC)

  • There are a few fixed phrases where "whom" still reigns: many/some of whom and To whom it may concern
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 23, 2022 at 6:22
  • The original phrase sounds off, I would have thought a native speaker would say: who he has to keep his distance from
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 23, 2022 at 6:26
  • 1
    I wouldn't go along with that. When the preposition is fronted with the pronoun it is normal to use accusative "whom". Compare also the interrogative "To whom is he talking?" (Not **to who").
    – BillJ
    May 23, 2022 at 7:02
  • @JapaneseEnglishteacher - your safest bet is to forget about 'whom'. Very few people care about it in modern times, and they are considered odd by everyone else. English is not Latin. May 23, 2022 at 13:57
  • @Mari-LouA - yes. Fixed or set phrases are the final resting places of old usages, where they lie stiff and cold. Visit Cumbria says of William Gershom Collingwood (an artist) "He was influenced by John Ruskin, and William Morris, from who he derived a life-long interest in Norse settlement, art and language" May 23, 2022 at 14:56

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