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Consider this sentence:

  1. Unregulated markets contribute to rising sea levels disproportionately impacting ocean animals who often reside within the marine ecosystem.

  2. Unregulated markets contribute to rising sea levels disproportionately impacting ocean animals whom often reside within the marine ecosystem.

Since the ocean animals are the object of being impacted (i.e., Unregulated markets impact them), #2 seems correct to me.

In this case, am I correct? If so, is my reasoning also correct?

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    No, it isn't. The whole clause animals who often reside... is the object of impacting. Compare "I met a man who says he lives next door to you". Oct 5, 2023 at 14:43

1 Answer 1

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The rules about what's an object and what's a subject apply individually to each noun phrase in a sentence, even if they refer to the same thing in the overall meaning of the sentence.

Take the much simpler sentence:

The shirt that I want is on sale.

"The shirt" and "that" refer to the same thing. "That" is a pronoun for "the shirt". However, "the shirt" is the subject of the main clause "The shirt...is on sale", and "that" is the direct object of "want". So two noun phrases that refer to the same thing don't necessarily have the same grammar role if they appear in two different clauses.

In your example, the noun "ocean animals" has a different place in the grammar structure than its pronoun "who/whom". The phrase "ocean animals" is the direct object of "impacting", and the pronoun "who/whom" is the subject of the clause "who/whom often reside within the marine ecosystem".

"Whom" can never be a subject, so only "who" is correct in that context.

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