1.This is the boy who works hard. 2.This is the boy who/whom all praise. Why in first sentence who is in nominative case and in other accusative case?

  • In the first sentence the boy is doing something - working hard, and in the second he is having something done to him - being praised. It is also worth noting that 'whom' derives from the OE dative, not the accusative. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 7:00
  • Are there rules to identify whether the pronoun is in nominative or in accusative case
    – Anshul Negi
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 7:02
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    Cases are a relic of Old English and don't really exist in Modern English, and if you insist on applying them they are only a vague equivalent. I really wouldn't get too hung up on them. In "he killed her", 'he' is (allegedly) nominative because 'he' is the actor, doing something; 'her' is the (allegedly) accusative because she is the victim, having something done to her. It would be more normal to call them subject and object pronouns, rather that nominative and accusative. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 7:16

1 Answer 1


In the first sentence the relative clause is derived from He (nominative) works hard. In the second sentence you have All praise him (accusative).

The structure of the two relative clauses is different. In the first one you have no subject after "who", so "who" is the subject of the relative clause. In the second one you have the subject "all" after "who". So "who/whom" can't be a nominative. By the way, "whom" is the accusative form of "who". Nowadays mostly replaced by who, as this does not lead to ambiguity.

  • That is what I already said in my comment... Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 7:08
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    'Whom' derives from OE dative, not accusative. It comes from the dative 'hwam', which contrasts with the nominative 'hwa' and the accusative 'hwone'. As such it is a cognate of the the German dative 'wem', so it is not really accurate to label 'whom' as an accusative. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 7:25
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    @RoaringFish I know the endless discussion about English not being Latin. - I use the standard Latin grammar terms for all languages I know and don't see the sense that I should switch to a second set of grammar terms when I talk about English. I use the English terms often enough as I know there are people who are allergic to Latin case names. All the same, I find a second set of terms impractical. The chaos of grammar terms is big enough as it is.
    – rogermue
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 7:49
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    @rogermue ~ the mistake you are making is thinking that it is 'a second set of terms'. It isn't. Modern English does not have nominative, accusative, dative, or any other case, as case revolves around inflecting the noun to reflect its function in a sentence, . Modern English doesn't do that because it is an analytic language, and the only remnant of case is the plural 's' and some pronouns. The chaos of terms you refer to is the result of trying to crow-bar concepts into a language that doesn't have them. Keep it simple. Call subjects and objects exactly what they are. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 10:15
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    @RoaringFish "That is what I already said in my comment". Yes, well, but the site wants answers to be answers, not comments. The meta site meta.ell.stackexchange.com encourages users to write answers to questions that already have well-formulated comments. Plus, you could have written your own answer instead of engaging in such lengthy back-and-forth comments here. Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 11:36

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