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Monday, July 9, 2012

To whom it may concern | Grammar Monkeys | Wichita Eagle Blogs

The good news in this article is that most recommended uses of whom are dying, being replaced by who. The sooner the better!

Grammar Monkey writes:
An interrogative (question) sentence like “Who did you see with my brother?” would have had “whom” in times past, but gets “who” almost exclusively now, unless you’re speaking with an incurable fusspot. Likewise, a declarative sentence like “I saw the neighbor who you’re always talking about” would also have had “whom,” but most people will say “who” these days (or leave it out entirely), because the object is not directly after the preposition.
The blogger explains that whom is being dropped everywhere except after a preposition; for example, to whom it may concern.

Various grammar guides (including this article) have tried to explain the use of either who or whom by telling writers to substitute he or him for the confusing pronouns. If he sounds better, use who; if him sounds better, use whom.

But my problem with that test is that to make it work, the writer must rewrite the sentence. The test isn't simply inserting he or him into a sentence as written. Simplicity and clarity are not part of the process even when trying to figure out which word to use.

So I'm glad that writing authorities like Bryan Garner, Patricia T. O'Conner, Bill Walsh and even the venerable Theodore Bernstein (way back in 1971) are OK with this change, now under way.

The blogger concludes:
By now, in 2012, it looks like the revolution’s here. Give it a few years of disarray, as most revolutions require, then let it settle down, and wait for “whom” to get the mark of “archaic” in the dictionaries.
This article is featured in today's (July 9) Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Choices tab above and by free email subscription.

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