Scared away whoever/whomever did it (?)

Latino24

Senior Member
Español mexicano
The sentence is the following:

"The sirens scared away whomever shot the bullet."

I assume that the sentence is correct since whomever is a direct object. If we replace it with a pronoun, we would say: "The sirens scared him away," or "scared her away." Not "the sirens scared she away."

However, my word processor says that I need to write "whoever" because of the complement "shot the bullet."

Which one is right and why?

Thanks for your answers.
 
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "The sirens scared away whomever shot the bullet." :( This looks horrible to me.

    We can invert it thus:

    Whoever shot the bullet, the sirens scared him away.

    'whoever' is the subject of 'shot'
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Whoever" is correct, because it's the subject in the noun clause "whoever shot the bullet".

    Compare with "I will shoot whomever I find breaking into my house", though a lot of people would use "whoever" there too (even though it's the object of "find").

    (crossed)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Your second example "The sirens scared him away" is not the same as the main example, which also has "shot the bullet" in it. So you cannot reasonably compare these sentences.

    (1) "The sirens scared away whomever shot the bullet."
    Here "whomever" is the direct object of the verb "scared", but also the subject of the verb "shot". Do we have "combined subject and object" pronouns in English?

    What is another way to write this? We can replace "whomever" with "the person who(m)":

    "The sirens scared away the person who shot the bullet."
    "The sirens scared away the person whom shot the bullet."

    I would chose "who" here, not "whom". So I would "whoever" in sentence (1).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Latino24

    It should be
    The sirens scared away whoever shot the bullet.

    The object of "scared away" is the whole of the clause "whoever shot the bullet"; and within that clause, "whoever" is the subject of the verb "shot".


    .......
    Multiple cross-posting;)
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The sentence is the following:

    "The sirens scared away whomever shot the bullet."

    I assume that the sentence is correct since whomever is a direct object. If we replace it with a pronoun, we would say: "The sirens scared him away," or "scared her away." Not "the sirens scared she away."

    However, my word processor says that I need to write "whoever" because of the complement "shot the bullet."

    Which one is right and why?

    Thanks for your answers.
    Isolate the clauses in your sentence; each clause should have a finite verb and a subject:

    The sirens scared him away
    whoever shot the bullet


    Repeating what's already been said: "whoever" is correct, because it is the subject of "shot" in the clause "whoever shot the bullet."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Couldn't one actually say "The sirens scared away he/she who shot the bullet"?
    It would need to be "The sirens scared away him who/her who shot the bullet". But, to steal Archilocus's term, the construction would be decidedly stilted:cool:.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top