for whom / who for

myrys

Member
Spanish
Hello friends! :p I want to know if the following sentences are right and if they have the same meaning :
- Who did Shakespeare write Macbeth for?
- For whom did Shakespeare write Macbeth?
- For who did Shakespeare write Macbeth? (I think that this one is wrong...:eek: )
I'll be waiting for your responses.... Thanks ! ;)
 
  • Hello friends! :p I want to know if the following sentences are right and if they have the same meaning :
    - Who did Shakespeare write Macbeth for?:cross: (Commonly heard, but incorrect)
    - For whom did Shakespeare write Macbeth?:tick:
    - For who did Shakespeare write Macbeth?:cross: (I think that this one is wrong...:eek: )
    I'll be waiting for your responses.... Thanks ! ;)
     
    Hello friends! :p I want to know if the following sentences are right and if they have the same meaning :
    - Who did Shakespeare write Macbeth for?
    :tick:
    - For whom did Shakespeare write Macbeth?
    :tick:
    - For who did Shakespeare write Macbeth? (I think that this one is wrong...:eek: )
    :cross:
    I'll be waiting for your responses.... Thanks ! ;)

    I disagree. The idea that it is necessarily wrong to end a sentence with a preposition is an argument that is impossible to maintain. If you spend your whole time writing and speaking using "For whom...", not only will you sound stilted, there are also structures for which it is entirely unsuitable not to end the idea with a preposition.
     
    I disagree. The idea that it is necessarily wrong to end a sentence with a preposition is an argument that is impossible to maintain. If you spend your whole time writing and speaking using "For whom...", not only will you sound stilted, there are also structures for which it is entirely unsuitable not to end the idea with a preposition.

    To me the issue has nothing to do with ending the sentence with the preposition. 'Whom' is objective case; 'who' is nominative. I confess that I would say "who did he write it for?" much more frequently than "for whom did he write it?". If I were writing any kind of formal document, I'd say "for whom...?".
     
    To me the issue has nothing to do with ending the sentence with the preposition. 'Whom' is objective case; 'who' is nominative. I confess that I would say "who did he write it for?" much more frequently than "for whom did he write it?". If I were writing any kind of formal document, I'd say "for whom...?".

    I see. I had misunderstood because you changed both the pronoun and the order of the words.

    I take your point about formal writing, but I think it's important to stress to learners of English that questions like "Who did he write it for?" are perfectly acceptable even in, say, work emails or letters of complaint.

    I just did a search of my work email, and the word "whom" was not used by me or any colleagues (English, Spanish, and American), once!
     
    Since it's possible...
    - to leave the preposition at the end of the sentence, or not
    and
    - to use "who" or "whom"
    there are actully 2x2 = 4 sentences to be considered:

    1. For whom did he write it?
    2. Whom did he write it for?
    3. For who did he write it?
    4. Who did he write it for?

    (The OP omitted (2).)

    The most conservative writers don't allow stranded prepositions and insist on the correct choice of "who" and "whom", so for them only (1) would be correct.

    As levmac said, it's now widely realized that the restriction against sentence-ending prepostions is an artificial one, so (2) would be acceptable to most.

    Even people who tend not to use "whom" do use it immediately after a preposition, so (3) is probably the least acceptable of the four possibilities. Another way of saying this is that anyone who would insist on having the preposition in first position would certainly also insist on correct choice of "who" vs "whom".

    Finally, (4), although it breaks both rules, is actually the most common of the four possibilities in everyday usage.

    For foreigners learning English, I'd recommend (1) or (2) in formal writing or when your instructor is within earshot, otherwise (4).
     
    Winston Churchill gave a good retort to people who criticized him for ending utterances with a preposition. "This is something up with which I will not put!"
     
    Since it's possible...
    - to leave the preposition at the end of the sentence, or not
    and
    - to use "who" or "whom"
    there are actully 2x2 = 4 sentences to be considered:

    1. For whom did he write it?
    2. Whom did he write it for?
    3. For who did he write it?
    4. Who did he write it for?

    (The OP omitted (2).)

    The most conservative writers don't allow stranded prepositions and insist on the correct choice of "who" and "whom", so for them only (1) would be correct.

    As levmac said, it's now widely realized that the restriction against sentence-ending prepostions is an artificial one, so (2) would be acceptable to most.

    Even people who tend not to use "whom" do use it immediately after a preposition, so (3) is probably the least acceptable of the four possibilities. Another way of saying this is that anyone who would insist on having the preposition in first position would certainly also insist on correct choice of "who" vs "whom".

    Finally, (4), although it breaks both rules, is actually the most common of the four possibilities in everyday usage.

    For foreigners learning English, I'd recommend (1) or (2) in formal writing or when your instructor is within earshot, otherwise (4).

    Hello ! I'm a bit confused about (2) and (3).....Do you say that they are gramatically correct? // thanks ! :)
     
    1. For whom did he write it?
    2. Whom did he write it for?
    3. For who did he write it?
    4. Who did he write it for?

    As a native, I would say:

    4 is normal English.

    1 and 2 are formal.

    3 is incorrect. If you want to avoid the preposition at the end of the sentence, you must use "whom" in structures like "to whom" "for whom" etc. But again, I would stress this is extremely formal, and would sound strange in 99% of contexts.
     
    The question about Shakespeare is not one I would expect to find in an email, but to me "For whom did Shakespeare write Macbeth?" and "Who did Shakespeare write Macbeth for?" seem to be asking two different things. Is the question meant to be asking about the intended audience, about someone who asked for Macbeth to be written, about someone who authorized the writing, or about someone to whom it is dedicated?
     
    The question about Shakespeare is not one I would expect to find in an email, but to me "For whom did Shakespeare write Macbeth?" and "Who did Shakespeare write Macbeth for?" seem to be asking two different things. Is the question meant to be asking about the intended audience, about someone who asked for Macbeth to be written, about someone who authorized the writing, or about someone to whom it is dedicated?

    I think either "for whom did he write it?" or "who did he write it for?" would work for any of the contexts you've suggested. I don't see any difference at all in the sense of the two questions, just a difference in register. Am I missing something?
     
    The question about Shakespeare is not one I would expect to find in an email...

    Well plenty of my emails come from friends and colleagues at the universities I have worked at, so I am sure I could find about 100 emails that quote essay questions, article titles and abstracts... but anyway, my point was not the content of the question, but rather the presence of "whom", and the importance - especially with Spanish speakers - not to exaggerate how much we use this word and structure. If, ultimately, it leads the person to construct questions like "For whom was this email intended?", or "to whom did you send the reply?" in every email, they are going to end up sounding weird, or worse, cold, to natives.
     
    The question about Shakespeare is not one I would expect to find in an email, but to me "For whom did Shakespeare write Macbeth?" and "Who did Shakespeare write Macbeth for?" seem to be asking two different things. Is the question meant to be asking about the intended audience, about someone who asked for Macbeth to be written, about someone who authorized the writing, or about someone to whom it is dedicated?

    that is part of my question too.... I want to know...or have your opinion about the meaning of the sentences...Because they seem to me to have the same meaning...that's to say : about someone to whom it is dedicated...I would like to know if I'm right...Thanks! :rolleyes:
     
    All Forero's posibilllities are valid, but as far as I'm concerned they apply equally to both questions. I can see no difference in meaning between the two, just a difference in formality.
     
    1. For whom did he write it?
    2. Whom did he write it for?
    3. For who did he write it?
    4. Who did he write it for?

    As a native, I would say:

    4 is normal English.

    1 and 2 are formal.

    3 is incorrect. If you want to avoid the preposition at the end of the sentence, you must use "whom" in structures like "to whom" "for whom" etc. But again, I would stress this is extremely formal, and would sound strange in 99% of contexts.

    Thanks for your reply!...It`s just that I don't see the point in using the preposition at the end of the sentence in (2) if you are asking with "whom" at the beggining...It seems to be "very much" for me...but it also could be right! ...thanks! ...:cool:
     
    To my ear, whom does not sound extremely formal, but it does fit a question about Shakespeare's intentions better than it would fit a question about a birthday gift.

    The who/whom difference is useful for disambiguation in contexts where it would otherwise be "optional".

    Putting the preposition first is also good for disambiguation, depending on how much the meaning of the preposition needs to be influenced by the verb. There are in fact contexts in which "for whom" sounds odd even in formal English, and contexts in which "for" at the end sounds odd even in colloquial English.

    In the sentence in question, any difference in meaning will be slight, but I might try to explain my choice in a known context.
     
    Back
    Top