Who/Whom are you calling useless?

Sarp84224

Member
English (UK)
Hello,

I know that not many people use whom much these days. But, I’m curious in the question I have asked whether to use who or whom.

The word are is a variant of be so should it not always be who? Or is whom the object of the word calling?

Is calling a noun or verb?

I’m confused.
 
  • S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Whom is the object form. Calling is the verb, but the pronoun is the subject of calling, so 'whom' is incorrect.
    ~~
    You might know this expression better in the form "whom shall I say is calling". In this case, I is the subject, say is the principal verb, and whom the correct object.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think you are referring to the principle that "The verb "to be" never takes an object".
    The word are is a variant of be so should it not always be who?
    "Are calling" is a part of the verb "call" known as the "present continuous tense". The principle that "the verb "to be" never takes an object" does not include "are calling", and does not include any other verb in a continuous tense.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The text you’re asking about needs to be included in your post – not just given as the thread title.

    Who are you calling useless? :tick: this is the normal way to say it in modern English
    Whom are you calling useless? :thumbsdown: whom is now generally only used directly after a preposition:

    Who are you referring to? :tick: To whom are you referring? :tick:

    There may be an AE/BE difference in usage.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Whom/ who are you calling useless?

    I think that, formally, "whom" is the object (You are calling whom useless?) This is quite a colloquial turn of phrase, so almost any native speaker would use informal "who" here.

    Compare:
    Who are you calling useless? Are you calling me useless?

    (crossposted)
     

    Sarp84224

    Member
    English (UK)
    Whom is the object form. Calling is the verb, but the pronoun is the subject of calling, so 'whom' is incorrect.
    ~~
    You might know this expression better in the form "whom shall I say is calling". In this case, I is the subject, say is the principal verb, and whom the correct object.
    Why is whom incorrect when the answer would be, “I am calling him/her useless.”?

    I thought it was a simple as:

    Whom are you calling useless?

    I am calling him/her/you/them useless.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An Independent article of 2016 entitled “9 embarrassing grammar mistakes and how to avoid them” even goes so far as to suggest that (because whom is the object of the verb) the who version is incorrect! But the writer appears to be American.

    Surely no self-respecting Brit would use such archaic language? :D
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    You might know this expression better in the form "whom shall I say is calling". In this case, I is the subject, say is the principal verb, and whom the correct object.
    I disagree with this analysis (for one thing, it leaves no room for the role of "is calling"), and indeed "Whom shall I say is calling?" itself is incorrect.
    "English Grammar Workbook for Dummies" calls it a "common error".
    The correct version is "Who shall I say is calling?". "Shall I say" is a refinement inserted into the main question in which "who" is the subject of "is calling".

    See: English Grammar Workbook For Dummies
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    “Shall I say” is in parenthesis.

    "Who, shall I say, is calling?"

    We can remove the parenthetical and leave the more common “Who is calling?” - This is what the speaker wants to know. The “Shall I say” merely indicates that the speaker does not want the information for himself, but in order to give to someone else.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    Am I right in saying that there are questions that are called subject questions and object questions?
    Who/Whom are you calling useless?

    The pronoun is object of "calling", so in traditional grammar the accusative pronoun "whom" is correct. But nowadays most people use the nominative form "who" in conversational spoken English, while "whom" is found mainly in formal style.

    When you say 'subject questions' and 'object questions', do you mean questions that seek the identity of the subject/object? Or do you want to identify the syntactic role of the question word, such as "what", "who", "which" etc?
     

    Sarp84224

    Member
    English (UK)
    Who/Whom are you calling useless?

    The pronoun is object of "calling", so in traditional grammar the accusative pronoun "whom" is correct. But nowadays most people use the nominative form "who" in conversational spoken English, while "whom" is found mainly in formal style.

    When you say 'subject questions' and 'object questions', do you mean questions that seek the identity of the subject/object? Or do you want to identify the syntactic role of the question word, such as "what", "who", "which" etc?
    I’m aware that whom is rarely used in speech so it’s unlikely people would ask the question in the formal sense, similar to most people would say, “Who are you voting for?” Instead of the formal, “Whom are you voting for?” Or “For whom are you voting?”

    I do understand that I’m asking the question in terms of formal rather than informal, that is, what most people actually would say.

    I never hear people use whom in real life everyday, one is more than likely to hear things like from who, by who, etc.

    I was meaning, do all questions have to have a subject?

    Who did the washing? I did the washing?
    Whom does she love? She loves him the most.

    The first question is a subject question and the second question is an object question. Am I right in stating those two things?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I never hear people use whom in real life everyday, one is more than likely to hear things like from who, by who, etc.
    When did you last hear someone say “from who” or “by who”? That’s the least likely of all combinations.

    Tell me who you were talking to :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    Tell me whom you were talking to :thumbsdown:
    Tell me to whom you were talking :thumbsdown:
    Tell me to who you were talking :cross:
     

    Sarp84224

    Member
    English (UK)
    When did you last hear someone say “from who” or “by who”? That’s the least likely of all combinations.

    Tell me who you were talking to :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    Tell me whom you were talking to :thumbsdown:
    Tell me to whom you were talking :thumbsdown:
    Tell me to who you were talking :cross:
    Every day speech. The only time I hear the word whom being used is on TV when someone says of whom. Other than that example, I always just hear who. I think if someone were to use whom in every day speech, including the formal sentences previously mentioned, the. I think he or she would get funny looks from a lot of people,

    I bet there are many people who have a) never even heard of the word whom b) do not know how or when to use it.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Why is whom incorrect when the answer would be, “I am calling him/her useless.”?

    I thought it was a simple as:

    Whom are you calling useless?

    I am calling him/her/you/them useless.
    I just wanted to say that you are right and S1m0n is wrong.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Every day speech. The only time I hear the word whom being used is on TV when someone says of whom. Other than that example, I always just hear who. I think if someone were to use whom in every day speech, including the formal sentences previously mentioned, the. I think he or she would get funny looks from a lot of people,

    I bet there are many people who have a) never even heard of the word whom b) do not know how or when to use it.
    What you said in #13 was that you were accustomed to hearing the expressions “from who” and “by who”. Now it seems you didn’t mean that at all?
     

    Sarp84224

    Member
    English (UK)
    What you said in #13 was that you were accustomed to hearing the expressions “from who” and “by who”. Now it seems you didn’t mean that at all?
    I am saying exactly that. How often do you hear whom being used in every day speech?

    Examples:

    I received a letter today. From who?

    I read a good book last week. By who?

    Any usage of the word whom will be regarded by many as very formal. Another word that is regarded quite similarly is shall. Most people say I will and we will rather than I shall and we shall.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    “Shall I say” is in parenthesis.

    "Who, shall I say, is calling?"

    We can remove the parenthetical and leave the more common “Who is calling?” - This is what the speaker wants to know. The “Shall I say” merely indicates that the speaker does not want the information for himself, but in order to give to someone else.
    With commas, "shall I say" is parenthetical, but without commas, it is not.

    But "Who" is the subject of "is" in both cases.

    And in "Who(m) are you calling useless?", "Who(m)" is the object of "are calling".
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    For whom did you vote?

    Where is the subject in that question?
    I’m amazed. What I would expect in everyday speech is “Who from?” and “Who by?”.
    :thumbsup:

    Quite a number of people in Britain automatically use "whom" without thinking about it, but we don't go out of our way to incorporate it into sentences where it is not needed.

    The use of "whom" is dying out (it won't be mourned by me) but, used correctly, it rarely sounds excessively formal. It is only when you try to use it unnecessarily that it sounds out of place.
     
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