Who/whom: It depends on what the venue is and <?> the audience is.

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Zaxxon

New Member
English - Canadian
Who = subject of a verb
Whom = the object of a verb

in the sentence:
"It depends on what the venue is and who the audience is."

Should it be who or whom? I suspect it should be "who", but I'm not sure.

When it comes to the fragment "who the audience is", what parts does that break into grammatically?
Who = object
the = article
audience = subject
is = verb
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Zaxxon - welcome to the forums!

    I agree with you that it should be "who", for two reasons.

    (1) "whom" is fading from the language; its use is an indicator of a formal register.

    (2) You don't get "objects" after the verb to be, you get "complements". Complements, in formal registers, are put in the subject form rather than the object form. Compare formal "It is I" with informal "it's me".

    Here's how I'd analyse your clause "who(m) the audience is":
    Who = complement
    the audience = subject ('the' is indeed an article)
    is = verb
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Even in formal English, this should be who because it's the subject (i.e. nominative) of the independent clause; audience is the "predicate nominal" (see here).*

    It's the same reason why you say I know who you are.

    *or maybe vice versa: audience is the subject, who the predicate nominal -- but in either case, it needs to be nominative who.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Notice that what is important is not whether the person mentined is the same as the object of the main clause. What matters is the function of the word in the clause in which it appears.


    The clause in which this appears is who the audience is. In this clause, the pronoun is the subject -- and so must be "who".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I disagree that "who" is the subject (I still see it as the complement).

    But I agree 100% that "who" is correct, not "whom":D
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    I disagree that "who" is the subject (I still see it as the complement).

    But I agree 100% that "who" is correct, not "whom":D
    I agree that this is difficult: which is the subject, and which is the subject complement (or predicate nominal, if you will)? Of course it doesn't matter in this case because the pronoun must always be who, not whom, but I have often wondered how to tell the subject from the subject complement in such interrogative clauses.

    /Wilma
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Word order tells you, Wilma...

    "It depends on what the venue is and who the audience is."
    Subject: The audience; complement: who.
    "It depends on what the venue is and who is the audience."
    Subject: Who; complement: the audience.

    The second is much more unlikely.
     
    Last edited:

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Word order? :confused:

    Word order only helps when it looks like this: A <verb> B. For example: Who are you?, You are Loob, etc.

    The word order in indirect questions is this: X Y <verb>. For example: I know who you are.

    You can't really assume that A=X & B=Y, nor that A=Y & B=X, because you don't know whether the who you are in I know who you are is supposed to represent who are you or you are who, i.e. which one is the subject and which one is the subject compliment.

    But again, it doesn't really matter because it's all relative.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Word order tells you, Wilma...

    "It depends on what the venue is and who the audience is."
    Subject: The audience; complement: who.
    "It depends on what the venue is and who is the audience."
    Subject: Who; complement: the audience.

    The second is much more unlikely.
    Hmm, the trouble I see here is the reversed word order: what the venue is/who the audience is - both the subject and the subject complement appear before the copular verb... :confused:

    Isn't
    who the audience is just an indirect speech version of the question who is the audience? In that case, the subject and subject complement should be the same for both versions, shouldn't they? (Sorry to be a pest, but this sort of thing really throws me!)

    Edit: I see that Brian posted in the meantime, and we may be approaching the realm of off-topic...

    /Wilma

     
    Last edited:

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Hmm, the trouble I see here is the reversed word order: what the venue is/who the audience is - both the subject and the subject complement appear before the copular verb... :confused:
    Right. :thumbsup:

    Isn't who the audience is just an indirect speech version of the question who is the audience? In that case, the subject and subject complement should be the same for both versions, shouldn't they? (Sorry to be a pest, but this sort of thing really throws me!)
    Probably, yes, but as I said in my post right above yours (you probably didn't see it yet), it could theoretically also be the indirect version of the audience is who. (I don't think the fact that the audience is who is non-standard necessarily removes it as a grammatical possibility.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I suspect we'll have to agree to disagreee.

    But I think that we're all agreed on the OP:)
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    it could theoretically also be the indirect version of the audience is who. (I don't think the fact that the audience is who is non-standard necessarily removes it as a grammatical possibility.)
    OK, I've seen your comment now, and I guess that if we replace the who in the second phrase (the audience is who), we get a completely grammatical sentence: the audience is a horde of middle-aged skinheads, where the audience is clearly the subject, and everything after is, is the subject complement.
    But I think that we're all agreed on the OP:)
    Indeed we do, and that's the main thing! :D The other problem may well have been covered in other threads, or even in my own grammar book!

    /Wilma
     
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