1)Tom went to the party with Mary yesterday.

2)It was Tom who/that went to the party with Mary yesterday.

3)It was Mary who/that Tom went to the party with yesterday.

Sentence 2 and 3 are emphatic sentences. In sentence 2, both "who" and "that" are appropriate. In sentence 3, some books say that only "that" is appropriate because we could use "who" if the emphatic element is a person and also functions as the subject of the original sentence (sentence 1), while some books say both "who" and "that" are appropriate.

I am wondering in sentence 3, whether "who" is correct or not.


1 Answer 1


In the strictest English, #3 requires whom rather than who, since the relativizer 'stands for' the object of the preposition with. In ordinary speech, or writing which emulates speech, who is fine.

  • I know that "whom" can be used as a relative pronoun in the adjective clause. Does it can also be used in an emphatic sentence ("It is/was...that/who...")? Thank you so much.
    – August
    Jun 15, 2015 at 13:49
  • @August Formally, whom is used in any circumstance where it stands for an object: "It was David whom I saw." "I don't know whom we should blame." But these uses are become infrequent: "Whom we should blame is the question before us" already sounds impossibly stilted. I suspect that in another generation or so whom will disappear entirely. Jun 15, 2015 at 15:35

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