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I'm writing an email and just came up with following sentence:

I contacted a couple of suitable candidates, of whom I thought would be capable of handling such job, but unfortunately none of them were interested.

I've got the feeling something is wrong?

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"Of whom" must be qualified by some sort of quantitative descriptor. "None," "some," "few," etc, or even an actual number, although that's less conventional.

You should add "some" in front of "of", but there's another minor problem: you've forgotten an article between "such" and "job".

I contacted a couple of suitable candidates, some of whom I thought would be capable of handling such a job, but unfortunately none of them were interested.

Be careful when you use commas with particular clauses like this, so that you don't create a comma splice.

Tunny's suggestion is close, but I think somewhat innaccurate. "Who" is a subject pronoun, and "whom" is an object pronoun, this is true. However, "that" is also used to refer to people, and "that" is used to denote an essential clause, which is the middle of your sentence between the commas. (Edit: The second sentence of this paragraph shows how not to use commas... don't do that.)

I contacted a couple of suitable candidates that I thought would be capable of handling such a job, but unfortunately none of them were interested.

Essential clauses add vital information to the sentence. In this case, we wouldn't know what kind of candidates you were choosing. You can also remove the adjective "suitable" (or, alternatively, the whole clause in the middle) since they mean the same thing. In this particular case, the "essential" clause isn't actually essential because "suitable" implies that they would be capable of handling whatever job you're talking about.

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  • "Of whom" must be qualified by some sort of quantitative descriptor." <== That sounds interesting. Could you provide some more info on that, perhaps from a grammar source?
    – F.E.
    Oct 21 '14 at 20:31
  • Obviously context applies; I don't have a source, it's common sense. "Of whom" does not make sense as a phrase on its own. The structure <plural noun indicating multiple people>, of whom does not hold up.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Oct 21 '14 at 20:34
  • "However, "that" is also used to refer to people, and "that" is used to denote an essential clause, . . ." <== So, in your following example, could a writer optionally choose to use "who" instead of only your "that"?
    – F.E.
    Oct 21 '14 at 20:35
  • @F.E. Ostensibly, yes, but I thought "that" was more proper, since I've seen it explicitly described as a word that introduces an essential clause, whereas "who" is just a subject pronoun.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Oct 21 '14 at 20:36
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    @f.e. Is one having fun? Oct 21 '14 at 21:43
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In that particular sentence you need just 'who', not 'of whom':

I contacted a couple of suitable candidates who I thought would be capable of handling such a job, but unfortunately neither of them were interested.

Here is an example of 'of whom' used correctly:

I contacted a number of candidates, none of whom was interested.

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  • I took the liberty of showing what the sentence would look like with who, and I also highlighted the relevant portions of the example sentences. Please feel free to roll back my edit if you feel it was made in error!
    – user230
    Oct 21 '14 at 19:35
  • @snailboat What happened to the first comma that was in the OP's original version? (Aside: By the way, I haven't voted on this answer-post.)
    – F.E.
    Oct 21 '14 at 19:37
  • I contacted a number of candidates, none of whom 'were' interested. worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-non2.htm Oct 22 '14 at 5:55

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