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Please explain to me the differences between these two sentences:

a) The sales girl whom we met at junction square is patient.
b) The sales girl at junction square whom we met is patient.

  • The former is closer to being grammatically correct, IMHO. – Victor Bazarov Oct 22 '15 at 14:45
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    Can you at least identify parts of the sentence in each case, perhaps point out the words they relate to? – Victor Bazarov Oct 22 '15 at 14:46
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Sentence (a) is better. Sentence (b) is not grammatically wrong, but it is awkward. It's a good idea to put pronouns like "whom" immediately after the noun they refer to. In this case, "whom" refers to the salesgirl, and sentence (a) reads better because whom is right after salesgirl. Sentence (b) takes slightly longer for the reader/listener to understand the meaning. Where things would get more confusing is in a sentence like "The girl with John whom we met is patient," where whom at first seems to refer to "John." You can see from that sentence why it is a good idea to put the pronoun like "whom" right after the noun it refers to.

By the way, a place name, like "Junction Square," would usually be capitalized, unless the place itself has chosen to name itself without caps.

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You have three possibilities

1 The girl whom we met was beautiful. - "whom" is formal and rarely used.

2 The girl who we met was beautiful. -Today whom is replaced by who (object case).

3 The girl we met was beautiful. - Drop of the relative pronoun (object case). This is the normal and most frequent formulation.

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The sentences actually have somewhat different meanings. The first means:

There is a person, and she's a sales girl, and she's patient, and we met her at junction square.

But the second introduces the possibility that we met the girl somewhere else:

There is a person, and she's a sales girl at junction square, and she's patient, and we met her.

It's slightly implied we met her at junction square, but it's not guaranteed. After all, we can make the sentence:

The manager at Macy's whom we met in Russia is patient.

There are no Macy's stores in Russia, AFAIK.

The difference is derived from where the prepositional phrase attaches to the sentence. In the first it attaches to the verb phrase, and in the second it attaches directly to the noun phrase.

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  • Something else that the second sentence might suggest is that 1) there are at least two sales girls at Junction Square, 2) of those girls, we met exactly one, and 3) the one that we met is patient. – Gary Botnovcan Jun 24 '16 at 18:12
  • Yes, I think that the use of the pronoun "whom" actually has as a presupposition that there's more than one person that fits the description and we're picking out a single one of them. Note that "The Pope whom we met is kind" sounds very awkward. – eijen Jun 24 '16 at 18:25

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