There are three sentences cited from the website http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/object.htm:

You saw whom?

You gave whom the book?

You wrote about whom?

I am wondering whether they are grammatical. Shouldn't we say "Whom did you see? Whom did you give the book? Whom did you write about?"

  • Related: ell.stackexchange.com/a/36640/3281. (Look for "interrogative clause with interrogative word in situ" in the answer.) Nov 27, 2014 at 13:28
  • Grammar Monster's discussion of who and whom is incorrect. I suggest you ignore it.
    – user230
    Nov 27, 2014 at 20:34
  • Note that "whom" is almost never used in English nowadays. Apr 24, 2019 at 11:45

2 Answers 2


User Arrowfar has usefully called these 'declarative' questions here.

You may express any statement as a question by speaking it with 'question intonation': that is, by raising the pitch of your voice on the final word. This intonation is expressed in writing with a question mark.

As I wrote at the question linked:

Ordinarily you use the 'declarative' only when the question is 'echoic' - that is, when you are asking for confirmation or clarification of what you have just heard, often explicitly echoing the language your interlocutor has employed. In most cases you will stress a specific term which you find incredible or did not hear clearly.

So the questions you give as examples might arise in contexts like these:

A: I saw Joyce at the party last night.
B: You saw whom? She told me she was going to be in the library!

A: I gave the book to [unintelligible].
B: You gave whom the book?

A: I wrote my paper about Lyndon Johnson.
B: You wrote about whom? —That was supposed to be my topic!

Note, by the way, that although it is grammatically 'correct', practically nobody would actually use whom in conversation in these contexts—it would always be who in a question.


You're asking us what??

(Perhaps the "usual" way to phrase that question would be, "What are you asking us?" However, the words sometimes reordered, particularly in a question when expressing shock or surprise.)

For example, suppose we had an acquaintance named Natalie, who is only 11. You have a book entitled 50 Shades of Gray, which has some rather, um, mature subject matter. If you told me:

I gave Natalie the book.

I might say something like:

You gave the book to WHO?!?

to express my shock.

Of course, the more grammatical way to express my surprise would be:

You gave the book to WHOM??

but many speakers use who instead of whom, particularly in conversation, no matter how many times grammar websites exhort us not to do so, and remind us that such usage isn't strictly correct.

In a similar way, "You saw whom?" might be used instead of "Whom did you see?" in the context of a conversation where I couldn't quite make out what you said, such as in this dialog:

I saw Deirdre today.
Excuse me, I couldn't hear you – the television is too loud. [turns down TV] You saw whom?

In this case, the second speaker phrases the question in a way that conveys how much of the partial message was received. If the first part of the question was hard to hear, the conversation might go like this instead:

I saw Deirdre today.
Excuse me, I couldn't hear you. [turns down TV] What happened to Deirdre today?
I saw her – that's all.


I sigh in relief after you clarify that you gave the book to your co-worker Natalie – who is in her late twenties – and not that neighbor kid Natalie who lives down the street.

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