The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us.

Akasaka

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello everyone,
I know this kind of question (who or whom) is often asked. What do you think of this sentence?

The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us.

I know "whom" is technically more correct, and that I had better omit "who".

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Wishfull

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Hi.
    I agree with you.

    The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us.:cross:
    The doctor whom we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
    The doctor we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us
    is heard more often in the UK than the form with whom and also considered correct. In the US they are more likely to use whom than the British, especially if well educated speakers. There are British native speakers who never say whom.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us
    is heard more often in the UK than the form with whom and also considered correct. In the US they are more likely to use whom than the British, especially if well educated speakers. There are British native speakers who never say whom.
    In my experience, the use of whom in the US is about as infrequent as it is in the UK. I think it's the level of formal education rather than the Atlantic that determines this :)
     

    alaethea

    Senior Member
    India-Tamil & English
    The use of "who" is correct when you have a preposition.
    The doctor in whom we placed our trust....:tick:
    The doctor who we placed our trust in....:tick:
    Both are fine to me.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The use of "who" is correct when you have a preposition.
    The doctor in whom we placed our trust....:tick:
    The doctor who we placed our trust in....:tick:
    Both are fine to me.
    Not quite :)
    I bolded and highlighted the preposition in your first example. Either you use the "whom" version or you don't - but it has nothing to do with prepositions!
     

    Oeco

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Right alaethea. Whom is the object of the preposition "in". Though I would say that the movement of the preposition to the end of the sentence "The doctor who we placed our trust in ...." doesn't make any difference. It should still be "whom." Though I entirely agree that regular, especially spoken, usage doesn't often follow this grammatical rule.

    For the record, the pronoun "whom" is also the object of the verb "placed [our trust]". If we used the pronoun "him" it would be: "we placed our trust in him" or without the preposition, "we trusted him." We would never say, "we trusted he" or "we placed our trust in he." but somehow the nominative "who" is OK. Those are the paradoxes of common usage.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Not quite:)
    It has. Or at least my grammar book says so.
    Some people insist that one should use whom whenever it is required grammatically, while many speakers ignore that "rule".

    If the who/whom person is the object of a verb (or preposition), then you should use whom, if it's the subject of the verb, then you should use who.

    What I was trying to say was, perhaps not too clearly : if you should be using whom, it doesn't matter whether there's a preposition involved or not.
    If your grammar book says you can switch from whom to who based on some preposition placement "rule", that's incorrect.

    On the other hand you are much more likely to hear the "correct" use of whom in the phrase "in whom we trusted" than in the other version : "who we trusted in" even though the "correct" version is whom in both cases.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    If the meaning of sentence changes with who vs. whom, it is proper to use the one that fits the intended meaning.

    If whom immediately follows the preposition of which it is the object, it sounds odd to use who instead. I have never heard anyone say who in a phrase such as "the doctor in whom we placed our trust". It is a different matter with in at the end.

    Other than these two cases, it seems just as natural to me to say who everywhere, but I still keep the distinction in formal writing.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I suspect there is a strong correlation between those who would not end a sentence or clause with a preposition and those who know when to use whom - hence "in whom we placed our trust" is far more likely than "in who we placed our trust".
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Not quite:)
    It has. Or at least my grammar book says so.
    This is what Grammar books say:

    Whom is used most extensively (but still only in formal styles and mostly in writing) when it refers to the complement of a preposition, and is always used when the preposition is placed immediately before the relative pronoun.
    R. Carter, M. McCarthy. Cambridge Grammar of English. 2006, Cambridge University Press.


    So they advise us not to say "the woman to who I talked":cross:

    But we could say that same sentence in many different ways (with or without who/whom).
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hello everyone,
    I know this kind of question (who or whom) is often asked. What do you think of this sentence?

    The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us.

    I know "whom" is technically more correct, and that I had better omit "who".

    Thanks in advance.

    The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
    The doctor we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
    The doctor whom we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
    The doctor we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
    The doctor whom we trusted has betrayed us.:tick:
    Could you explain your ticks?
    Are you suggesting that all three of these are equally acceptable in all circumstances, including in English examinations?
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yes, panjandrum, all of those would be accepted in our examinations, although that depends strictly on the teacher. :D I will try to find some little quote supporting each of those uses for you to know what our books say. :)


    And, by the way, while I find examples in a grammar book, I'll add another possibility:

    The doctor who we trusted has betrayed us. :tick:
    The doctor we trusted has betrayed us. :tick:
    The doctor whom we trusted has betrayed us. :tick:

    The doctor that we trusted has betrayed us. :tick:
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I think I have found a good example. :)


    b Where is the man (whom)/(who)/(that) I saw this morning?

    c Is that the man (whom)/(who)/(that) you gave your tickets to?
    R. A. Close. A Reference Grammar for Students of English. Longman, 1975 (Eighteenth impression 1996).

    The parenthesis means we don't need the relative pronoun.
    The example in b is like Akasha's first pattern.
    The example in c is like alaethea's examples with a preposition.

    All these examples are under the heading Defining Clauses, with Personal Antecedent.
    There are other types of relative sentences.


    So, from a grammatical point of view, all those forms are correct. Then, in spoken language, I think it is more common to use "that" or no relative pronoun at all in those examples. Is this right?

    If there is a particular use that you don't like, panjandrum, tell me which is, please. :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm surprised.
    If the who and whom versions of the topic sentence are equally correct, there must be some difference of meaning or context to explain why.
    Or are you suggesting that it doesn't matter which is used?

    (I think I wouldn't use any relative in this sentence.)
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I'm surprised.
    If the who and whom versions of the topic sentence are equally correct, there must be some difference of meaning or context to explain why.
    Or are you suggesting that it doesn't matter which is used?

    (I think I wouldn't use any relative in this sentence.)
    In the original sentence, the authentic relative pronoun is whom, and that is what traditionalist English grammars would have said (I don't have any of those grammars, by the way, so that's just my guess because "whom" there is the object, not the subject). Have you got any grammar book explaining this topic in a different way?

    But, panjandrum, imagine grammar books would tell us to use whom in that sentence, we (foreigners) would speak even more strangely than we already do, don't you think? :D :)


    panjandrum said:
    (I think I wouldn't use any relative in this sentence.)
    Thank you for commenting. I thought it was like that in normal speech, but it's good to hear what a native has to say about it. :)

    All the above explanations are good for us to know, and we could find them all in some particular example (some in very formal writing only). But we also need to learn what is the normal way to express them. :)
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thank you - I think I understand now.
    You are suggesting that the gradually-increasing non-use of whom by native English speakers has reached the point that non-natives perceive it as an anachronism.
    And so, students are taught to use whom following a preposition (in whom) but not otherwise.

    I may have exaggerated this.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thank you - I think I understand now.
    You are suggesting that the gradually-increasing non-use of whom by native English speakers has reached the point that non-natives perceive it as an anachronism.
    And so, students are taught to use whom following a preposition (in whom) but not otherwise.

    I may have exaggerated this.
    Yes, but that is the idea. Explanations may vary a bit from book to book, but basically many of our grammar books talk of "whom" in relation to uses like "to whom", "with whom", and little more. :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ...
    But, panjandrum, imagine grammar books would tell us to use whom in that sentence, we (foreigners) would speak even more strangely than we already do, don't you think? :D :)
    Good point :)
    I've experienced the kind of glazed look when I'm speaking to some people and I forget to switch from formally-correct to normal-conversational.
    All the above explanations are good for us to know, and we could find them all in some particular example (some in very formal writing only). But we also need to learn what is the normal way to express them. :)
    I agree, absolutely.
    Whom is used a lot less now than when I was at school.
    I wonder if, as a result of this gradual change, it is now OK to endorse both who and whom in the example sentence without further explanation?
    I also wonder how close we are to marking the "whom" version archaic, or even wrong :eek:
     
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    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Good point :)

    I wonder if, as a result of this gradual change, it is now OK to endorse both who and whom in the example sentence without further explanation?
    I also wonder how close we are to marking the "whom" version archaic, or even wrong :eek:
    Books do not say this type of truly authentic and grammatical "whom" is incorrect or archaic, but they warn us about its being formal. :)


    As for the first question, here you have this example I quoted before:

    b Where is the man (whom)/(who)/(that) I saw this morning?
    They don't add much more about it. I guess we'd need to find an academic book on linguistics to focus on this grammar point in more detail. I'll give it a try later in books.google.com :)
     
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    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Pragmatically, it may be best for English learners to avoid the whole who/whom thing, and go with Wishfull's excellent suggestion:

    The doctor we trusted has betrayed us.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Pragmatically, it may be best for English learners to avoid the whole who/whom thing, and go with Wishfull's excellent suggestion:

    The doctor we trusted has betrayed us.
    Yes, winklepicker, and that is why many books avoid talking about "whom" as object, "who" subject and all that. Many students would not understand those concepts at all, and they are not so much needed anymore nowadays.

    Anyhow, I have finally understood that Akasha and some others were really wondering about the validity of "who" in such a sentence. I am not sure now what alethea meant when he mentioned grammar books. Fortunately, I have found more sources:


    We mostly use who as a subject relative pronoun, but it can be an object. (I met an old friend who I hadn't seen for years).
    We can also use whom as an object pronoun.(I met an old friend whom I hadn't seen for years).
    But whom is formal and rather old-fashioned. In everyday speech we usually use that, or we leave out the pronoun.
    John Eastwood. Oxford Learner's Grammar. Oxford University Press, 2005.

    This book uses those words of object/subject, and here is what it says. Books just try to explain all possibilities and then point the most common, or more formal/informal.

    In that same book, when referring to prepositions, it does not say "whom" is old-fashioned, just formal.
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    In that same book, when referring to prepositions, it does not say "whom" is old-fashioned, just formal.
    I think that's fair. The problem for non-natives (and indeed for natives!) is that this is an expression in transition. It is possible to be grammatically correct - but sound foolish. Or vice versa. It depends on the circumstances - and on cues that are very difficult for non-natives to pick up.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    From the other side of the fence, I can tell you that if you speak formal English when talking to foreigners, you will always sound great, because that is much easier for us to understand. :) :) :)
     

    _massive89

    New Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi all!
    It's an interesting topic. I've discussed it with my friends many times. In my native language, Bulgarian, there is the same thing, only it's not who and whom, it's кой and кого :) And the explanation that I know of, is something along these lines (translated): When you can answer with he, it's who; example: Who is ringing? He is.; When you can answer with him, correct is whom; example: Whom are you looking for? I'm looking for him.
    I think it's appliable in English, but I'm not 100% sure.

    That's about as simple as I can explain it. It's a simple rule, but like in English, no one actually uses it, exept the news people :) Hope it helps. (I don't know linguistics, like pronouns and so on, so u'll have to excuse me for the lame explanation)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Where I live, who as object is nothing new, but it can sometimes impede communication.

    In writing, I would use whom in the sample sentence to make it easier to read. As written, the who first misleads me into thinking we trusted that the doctor has betrayed us, but the period tells me I need to go back and reinterpret the sentence.

    In speech, where we can indicate the end of the phrase at trusted without "pronouncing a comma", the relative pronoun becomes superfluous.

    If the relative clause were nonrestrictive, I would use commas and include a relative pronoun:

    The doctor, who(m) we trusted, has betrayed us.

    Here I would add the m in formal writing, leaving it off in informal speech because of the clumsiness of m before w.

    I might even use that here, under various circumstances, but that is not the topic of this thread. :)
     

    Oeco

    Senior Member
    English - US
    When you can answer with he, it's who; example: Who is ringing? He is.; When you can answer with him, correct is whom; example: Whom are you looking for? I'm looking for him.
    That was the point I was making in my earlier reply. HOWEVER, we seem to be in agreement here that such an approach is formal at least and old-fashioned at worst. I'll just have to go to my grave with the grating sound in my ears.

    In the early 60s in the US, there was a TV quiz show entitled "Who do you Trust?" hosted by Johnny Carson later to become the host of the Tonight Show. The faux controversy around the improper grammar became part of its charm. In that case, when the objective relative pronoun is actually in the subjective position of the sentence (which happens with questions), it is very hard to force the pronoun into the objective.
     
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