I would like to know whom a street was named after. That's how I am asking it:

Whom was this street named after?

Is the question correct?

  • 3
    It's correct, but it sounds rather stuffy. Most people would use 'who'. – tunny Nov 12 '14 at 11:43
  • It's not very conversational. 'Who' sounds much more natural. – Erik Kowal Nov 12 '14 at 11:59
  • 1
    Although whom is certainly on the wane in informal situations, there are enough grammar websites devoting screenfuls of advice about how to use who and whom correctly to prove that many English-speakers still care about such things. In everyday conversation, when we’re speaking to friends, family, or colleagues, whom rarely gets a look-in: people use who all the time and may view whom as rather stuffy or pretentious. – Misti Nov 12 '14 at 12:45
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    Well I'm stuffy and proud, so I would say 'After whom is this street named?'. – WS2 Nov 12 '14 at 14:09

Yes, it is. But many people nowadays don't use whom at all, and would say (and write):

Who was this street named after?

Anyone who claims that this is not grammatical is living in an earlier century.


Whom was this street named after?

Yes, it is correct.

However, if you were to use who in that sentence, it would be wrong because the subject is this street since it is doing the action. We use whom as an object receiving an action.

In this case,

object → (unknown person)
subject → this street
verb → named after

So, whom would be correct.

Who was being named after this street?

In this case,

subject → (unknown person)
verb → being named after
noun → this street

Add-on: This street cannot be a subject in this case because this is a question of missing person although it would fit.


subject → this street
verb → was being named after
noun → Obama

Thus, who would be the correct answer for this sentence.

  • 1
    I don't know who the "we" are who "use whom as an object receiving an action", but it doesn't include many English speakers in the 21st Century. – Colin Fine Sep 13 '15 at 13:27
  • @ColinFine, but still tested during English exam since it's still in syllable. – XPMai Sep 13 '15 at 19:07
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    Well, then the people who created the syllabus are interested in something other than teaching people to speak English. – Colin Fine Sep 14 '15 at 18:07
  • @ColinFine, it'd be under Grammar section. They're testing English knowledge. Speaking is Oral. – XPMai Sep 15 '15 at 18:36
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    Yes, speaking is oral. (That's what "oral" means). And the grammar of spoken English, for most people today, does not include the word "whom". (Yes, I'm teasing. I know perfectly well that many people use the word "grammar" to mean "an arbitrary set of rules, based on what some people think the language ought to be, and used to distinguish the superior people who follow it from the inferior who don't". I prefer to use "grammar" in the linguist's sense of "The rules that people actually follow in using their language".). – Colin Fine Sep 16 '15 at 9:32

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