Who & Whom

Add modifying clauses for personal (animate) nouns

Woman on Phone
 

 

Relative Pronouns for People — Who / Whom / That

SUBJECT PRONOUNS

Who replaces a personal subject noun in a modifying clause. That is used informally as a personal (animate) noun  and which is not used at all.

move overwho modifies woman
The woman who called you is my friend.

move overwho modifies woman
The woman that called you is my friend. (informal)
 

OBJECT PRONOUN

Whom or who replaces a personal object noun in a modifying clause. That is used informally for a personal (animate) noun  and which is not used.

move overwho modifies woman
The woman whom/ who you called is my friend.

move overthat modifies woman
The woman that you called is my friend. (informal)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forming a Who-Clause

Replacing the Subject or Object Noun

 

 

 

Who / Whom

SUBJECT PRONOUN OF CLAUSE

Who replaces the repeated personal subject noun in the modifying clause. Then the clause is placed after the personal noun that it modifies.

The woman is my friend. The woman called you.
The woman is my friend. She called you.

  SUBJECT of MOD CLS  

The woman

The woman called you. 
  arrow-most of the changes to most of which 

is my friend

 

  who / that

 

The woman

who called you

is my friend

OBJECT PRONOUN OF CLAUSE

Whom / who / that replaces the repeated personal object noun in the modifying clause. Whom is more formal. Optionally, who, whom or that can be omitted (deleted). 

The woman is my friend.  You called the woman.
The woman is my friend.  You called her.

  OBJECT of MOD CLS  

The woman

You called the woman
            arrow-most of the changes to most of which 

is my friend.

 

who / whom / that

 

The woman

who(m) you called
whom you called

is my friend

 

Add commas if the clause adds extra information that is not essential to identifying who the person is. (a non-identifying, non-restrictive clause) See Some or All

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who / Whom Clause

Clause Position

 

 

 

Modifying the Subject of the Main Clause

WHO – SUBJECT OF THE CLAUSE

The who-clause is placed directly after the personal noun that it modifies.

SUBJECT SUBJ of MOD CLS  

The woman

subject

who   called you
She called you. 

is here.

The woman

*that   called you
She called you. 

is here.

WHOM – OBJECT OF THE CLAUSE

The who(m)–clause is placed directly after the personal noun that it modifies. The object pronoun can be omitted.

SUBJECT OBJ of MOD CLS  

The woman

subject

who(m) you called 
You called her 

is here.

The woman

*that you called 
You called her 

is here.

 

 

 

 

Modifying the Object of the Main Clause

WHO – SUBJECT OF THE CLAUSE

The who-clause is placed directly after the personal noun that it modifies.

  OBJECT SUBJ of MOD CLS

Here is

the woman

subject

who   called you
She called you. 

Here is

the woman

*that   called you
She called you. 

WHOM – OBJECT OF THE CLAUSE

The who(m)–clause is placed directly after the personal noun that it modifies. The object pronoun can be omitted.

  OBJECT OBJ of MOD CLS

Here is

the woman

subject

who(m) you called 
You called her 

Here is

the woman

*that you called 
You called her 

 

comp. / complement – a word, phrase or clause which is necessary in a sentence to complete its meaning
omit (v.) – delete; leave out
*informal usage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Object Pronouns

Omitting Who(m)

 

 

 

When can you omit who?

SUBJECT PRONOUN OF CLAUSE

When who takes the place of the subject noun/pronoun in a modifying clause, it cannot be omitted (deleted).

The guy who is talking is the leader.
               — The guy is talking —  (subject)  

The doctor who looked at my arm was young.
               The doctor looked at my arm—  (subject)  

Two girls who rang my doorbell sold me cookies.
            Two girls rang my doorbell —  (subject)

OBJECT PRONOUN OF CLAUSE

When who takes the place of the object noun/pronoun in a modifying clause, it can optionally be omitted (deleted). 

The guy  (who) you spoke to is the leader.
              — you spoke to the leader  (object)

The doctor  (who) I preferred was young.
              — I preferred the doctor  (object)

Two girls  (who) I chatted with sold me cookies.
              — I chatted with two girls (object)

 

 

 

 

 

How do you know if who is an object pronoun?  

FOLLOWED BY A VERB

If the relative pronoun is followed by a verb, then the relative pronoun is probably the subject of the clause. It cannot be deleted.

The guy who showed us his car — seems fair.
               — who → verb —      (It's likely the subject.)

The driver who hit his car — is apologetic.
                    — who → verb —      (It's likely the subject.)

The girl who lives next door — drives a Honda.
              — who → verb —      (It's likely the subject.)

FOLLOWED BY A SUBJECT NOUN / PRONOUN

If the relative pronoun is followed by a subject noun or pronoun – I, we, he, she, they – then who is probably the object and it can be deleted.

The guy –– who we spoke to — seems fair. 
                who → we… —        (It's likely the object.)

The driver –– who she ran into — is upset. 
                    who → she… —        (It's likely the object.)

The man who you met — drives a Jeep.
                   — who → you… —      (It's likely the object.)

 

apologetic (adj.) – sorry; giving of apologies
likely – highly probable

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who/Whom-Clause

Punctuation

 

 

 

An identifying vs. Nonidentifying Clause

IDENTIFYING CLAUSE

no comma usedA clause that identifies the noun before it (tells you which one) is not set off with commas.

The man  that lives next door is a marathon runner

Jack hired the gardener (whom) you recommended.

NONIDENTIFYING CLAUSE

use a commaA clause that adds extra, nonidentifying information is set off with comma(s).  The object pronoun cannot be omitted.

Jack Trainer,  who lives next door, is a marathon runner.  

Jack hired Mr. Lee, whom¹ you recommended.

 

An identifying clause adds information or narrows (limits) the noun to a specific one, group or lot.  The clause helps by telling us which one. No commas are used.  It is also called restrictive, essential , or necessary clause. See That vs. Which   Some or All.

A nonidentifying clause adds extra information about a noun already identified by other means, for example, by name, by shared knowledge or context. The clause, a comment, is set off with commas (before and, if necessary, after the clause). It is also called nonrestrictive, nonessential,  or unnecessary clause. See Commas – comments.

¹An object relative pronoun cannot be omitted from (left out of) a nonidentifying clause.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modifying Clauses

Preposition Placement

 

 

 

AT END OF CLAUSE

When the verb accepts an indirect object, the object preposition is likely to occur at the end of the clause. Leaving the preposition at the end may be considered informal use.

The police officer whom I gave my passport to   took down my information.
move overI gave my report to the officer.

The police officer who I gave my passport to   took down my information.  

The police officer that I gave my passport to   took down my information. 

The passport which he was looking at    had expired the week before. 

The passport that he was looking at  had expired the week before.
 

BEFORE THE RELATIVE PRONOUN

When using whom or which, a preposition belonging to the indirect object may be placed before the relative pronoun. This is formal use (academic and business).

The police officer to whom I gave my passport  took down my information.
move overI gave my report to the officer.

The police officer *to who I gave my passport  took down my information. (Use whom.) 

The police officer *to that I gave my passport  took down my information.  (Use whom.) 

The passport at which he was looking   had expired the week before.

The passport *at that he was looking   had expired the week before. (Use which.)
 

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

ERROR SOLUTION

*The guy is here who wants to play football.     

The guy who wants to play football — is here.
move overwho before a subject noun
The
who-clause must be next to the word it modifies.

*The man which you are talking about isn't a friend.

The man whom/ who/ that you are talking about   isn't a friend.
Which is not used as a personal pronoun for a person. Use that.
 

*There's a man on the phone wants to talk with you.  missing relative pronoun

There's man on the phone who wants to talk to you. A subject pronoun cannot be omitted.

 

The man whom I believe lives next door to you is a pilot.

The man who, I believe, lives next door to you is a pilot.

The man who lives next door to you is a pilot, I believe.

I believe, the man who lives next door to you is a pilot.

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Selecting Courses

classroom
 

 

Which relative pronoun(s) can complete each sentence?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 1-10" button at the bottom.

1.
My friend told me about a studentThe student has taken the TOEFL test twelve times!

2.
The advisor didn't know the answer to my academic question. I talked to the advisor.

3.
I was looking for a good English program. The program offers a lot of writing and composition.
.

4.
Some of the courses have been very useful.  I took the courses last semester.

5.
My friend studies with me in the afternoon. My friend is in my mathematics class.

6.
All students have to take Algebra101 and Statistics101. All students want to graduate.

7.
A friend thinks the courses will be useful.  I trust this friend.

8.
I would like to find an instructor. The instructor teaches creative writing.

9.
The group prefers to study at night. I study with the group.

10.
We would all like to take the writing course. The new instructor will be teaching the course.
.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Dave

Dave
 

 

Read for Errors

Dave is a teenager who has just turned fifteen. He is also a person who he is enjoying his life.  He is a guy whom likes to have a good time.  He is also a guy whom you would probably like a lot.  He can tell stories who will make you laugh.

His friends who hang out with him think he is smart and funny. Dave is also a guy whose a "ladies man". The girls text him who like him. One girl that he likes thinks he's cute. Dave is a guy who he hates cute. He prefers smokin'.

guy (n.) – male (informal); guys – male and female (very informal)
hang out with – spend time with
smoking (adj.) – hotter than hot; good looking

 

 

 

 

Decide whether the modifying clause is correct.

  1. Select the response correct or incorrect.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 11-20" button at the bottom.

 

11.
Dave is a teenager who has just turned fifteen.

     

12.
He is also a person who he is enjoying his life.

       

13.
He is a guy whom likes to have a good time. 

     

14.
He is also a guy whom you would probably like a lot. 

     

15.
He can tell stories who will make you laugh.

     

16.
His friends who hang out with him think he is smart and funny.

     

17.
Dave is also a guy whose a "ladies man".

     

18.
The girls text him who like him.

     

19.
One girl that he likes thinks he's cute.

     

20.
Dave is a guy who he hates cute. He prefers smokin'.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Childhood Food Allergies

Foods causing allergies
 

 

Read for errors

The number of children that have food allergies has been increasing. A recent study of kids under age 18 who has allergies found that 8% of kids are allergic to at least one food. That is up from a previous study in 2009 which found that 4% had allergies. 

Pediatricians who see children with allergies report that there is an increasing number of kids who allergic to peanuts.  Some allergies that used to occur in childhood now seem to carry over into teen years.  Preschoolers whose between the ages of 3 and 5 have the highest occurence of food allergies.

Boys in this study who have allergies are more likely to experience severe reactions.  This is because they don't want to appear different from other kids, and so they eat forbidden foods.

Food allergies become dangerous in kids that they ignore warnings and eat foods they aren't supposed to eat,

At school, children often have to sit and eat at the "peanut-free" table who have peanut allergies, which makes them feel like outcasts. And when they go to birthday parties, they have to bring their own cupcakes which are allergen free.

Parents have children with allergies say that it changes everything: how they buy, store, prepare and serve food.

One family that researchers studied had two separate kitchens so that they could keep one kitchen allergen free.

Unless researchers can understand why the number of allergies is increasing among kids, the kids who suffer from allergies will have to hope to outgrow them.

allergen (n.) – a substance that causes an allergy

allergic(adj.) – having an allergy

allergy (n.) – a medical condition in which you become ill or in which your skin becomes red and painful because you have eaten or touched a particular substance

forbidden (adj.) – not permitted

occurrence (n.) – something that happens; event; incident

outcast (n.) – a person who is separated from the rest of society

outgrow (v.) – to leave behind or lose as one becomes older

pediatrician (n.) – doctor who treats children  (Pediatrics)

Goodman, Brenda "Food allergies in Kids More Common Than Thought" WebMD

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 21-30" button at the bottom.
21.
The number of children that have food allergies has been increasing.


22.
A recent study of kids under age 18 who has allergies found that 8% of kids are allergic to at least one food.  That is up from a previous study in 2009 which found that 4% had allergies. 


23.
Pediatricians who see children with allergies report that there is an increasing number of kids who allergic to peanuts


24.
Some allergies that used to occur in childhood now seem to carry over into teen years. Preschoolers whose between the ages of 3 and 5 have the highest occurence of food allergies.


25.
Boys in this study who have allergies are more likely to experience severe reactions. This is because they don't want to appear different from other kids, and so they eat forbidden foods.


26.
Food allergies become dangerous in kids that they ignore warnings and eat foods they aren't supposed to eat.


27.
At school, children often have to sit and eat at the "peanut-free" table who have peanut allergies, which makes them feel like outcasts. And when they go to birthday parties, they have to bring their own cupcakes which are allergen free, which makes them feel like outcasts.


28.
Parents have children with allergies say that it changes everything: how they buy, store, prepare and serve food.


29.
One family that researchers studied had two separate kitchens so that they could keep one kitchen allergen free.


30.
Unless researchers can understand why the number of allergies is increasing among kids, the kids who suffer from allergies will have to hope to outgrow them.