Comments for Pain in the English http://painintheenglish.com Forum for the gray areas of the English language Fri, 1 Aug 2014 23:29:48 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-26018 Warsaw Will Fri, 1 Aug 2014 14:47:45 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-26018 @Jasper - I'm sorry about your name ; I think I also confused you with jayles once - I get a bit muddled with all these Js (That's no excuse, though!).

Incidentally, the whole book is online, illegally I presume, so I won't link to it. I take it you mean Chapter 8 - 'The semantics and grammar of adverbials' - a mere seventy pages or so - I'll try and give it a whirl sometime.

@jayles the unwoven - "Where is your evidence for this? ;=))" - virtually every post. I would suggest that a majority of the few remaining regular posters consider formal grammar 'more correct' than actual spoken Standard English (although I don't include you in this). That is not a criticism, just a statement of the position as I see it. Jasper himself says that that his 'focus is always on the grammar and not so much on spoken language and the idiomaticity of the sentence'. Whereas my focus (and interest in English) is exactly the opposite.

At the risk of being accused of banging on about descriptivism yet again (sorry, Jasper), as far as I'm concerned (and I think as far as many linguists are concerned, including the aforementioned Quirk et al), grammar derives from the language as it is used, not from a canon of old grammar books, many aspects of which, such as their attitudes to preposition stranding and split infinitives, are now largely discredited. I believe that 'grammar' should reflect the language as it is actually used by educated speakers, and I also think we should think more about register and 'appropriateness' than 'correctness' as dictated by the writers of formal grammar.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that this is currently a minority view on this forum, in contrast to forums such as StackExchange and WordReference, where discussion is based more on usage. Hence my statement.

I confess I do have a thing about 'whom', which is where I think traditional grammar departs most from reality, and I have written a series of posts under the rubric of 'Whom Watch'. My problem with examples like "Whom did you meet last night?", and the far worse "With whom did you eat the pizza?", which comes from a so-called 'grammar infographic' reposted on a couple of ESL sites by teachers who should have known better, is that these are very obviously from contexts where they would be spoken, and unlikely to crop up in formal texts. And in informal spoken language almost nobody would use 'whom' in these contexts (and nowadays it's not so common in books either).

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Whom+did+you+meet%2CWho+did+you+meet&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2CWhom%20did%20you%20meet%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CWho%20did%20you%20meet%3B%2Cc0

http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2013/12/whom-watch-3-silly-infographic.html

Even back in 1772, in the third edition of 'The Rudiments of English Grammar',polymath Joseph Priestley wrote "As, 'Who is this for?' 'Who should I meet the other day but my old friend' . This form of speaking is so familiar that I question whether grammarians should admit it as an exception to the general rule."

His next bit might be of more interest to Jasper, as it involves the infinitive of 'be' - "Dr Lowth says that grammar requires us to say 'Whom do you think me to be'. But in conversation we always hear 'Who do you think me to be'. "

http://books.google.pl/books?id=mwUUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA107&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U2bwCRjaLUXiUIWZZMPm3NT5H3SQA&ci=108%2C850%2C807%2C664&edge=0

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Comment on Are proverbs dying? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5294/#comment-26017 Warsaw Will Fri, 1 Aug 2014 13:11:09 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5294/#comment-26017 @Rdavis202 - 'Cats and dogs' - that surprises me too. It's in lots of EFL course books, but I've always found it a bit artificial, and tell my students we're probably more likely to say something like 'It's bucketing down' (BrE) - although Ngram suggests I'm wrong.

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Comment on obstinacy vs. obstinancy by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/4205/#comment-26016 Warsaw Will Fri, 1 Aug 2014 13:03:31 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4205/#comment-26016 "Obstinancy"is certainly in the OED, at least according to Wiktionary, but is listed as 'rare', and it is not listed in Oxford Online. In fact it is only listed in two of the many online dictionaries searched at 'OneLook'.

Incidentally it is very unlikely Dickens did use it, and especially not in "Oliver Twist" - in the First Edition of 1838, it reads -

"Come; you should know her better than me - wot does it mean ?” “ Obstinacy—woman's obstinacy, I suppose, my dear,” replied the Jew shrugging his shoulders."

http://books.google.pl/books?id=_f5cAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA145&dq=%22obstinacy%22+dickens+oliver+twist&hl=en&sa=X&ei=N8HbU4KHM8SN7QbJhYGgCQ&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22obstinacy%22%20dickens%20oliver%20twist&f=false

Searching 19th century books at Google for "obstinancy" "Dickens" brings up only one result - "and little by little to make common cause on the one subject of Martin Chuzzlewit's obstinancy.". But it's not by Dickens, but by a pair of literary critics, the Littels.

Its use was always infinitesimal compared to that of its n-less cousin and seems to have peaked in the late eighteenth century. So, the word exists,yes, but its use is virtually non-existent.

But, remember this next time you're at pub quiz - skaddoura might be right about buffalo (and also bison). This is from 'The Smooth Guide to Animals and the English Language' - 'A gang, a herd, an obstinancy, a troop of bison' and the same for buffalo (but without 'gang'). This idea is repeated quite a lot round the web, but I can't find any reputable source for this.

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26015 Warsaw Will Fri, 1 Aug 2014 12:19:49 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26015 "The situation was transformed into something quite different." - this is fine when we know that there was an agent who/which transformed the situation, but situations have a habit of changing under their own steam: here are a few intransitive examples:

"The situation turned nasty"
"The situation improved"
"The situation worsened"
"As the situation darkened on the Northern Plains, Sheridan was pulled away"

Incidentally, Skeeter, I much prefer your first choice of "the sentences should read this way" to "The sentences should run this way". After all, we can say "It says here ..." when nobody is saying anything. And we also say things like "This reads more like an advertisement than a review", so what's wrong with "the sentences should read this way". This is from "All About Grammar", by Rosemary Allen (2007):

"James ran in the house to tell Mum." This should read:

"James ran into the house to tell Mum."

I can't see any problems there. Trust your instinct!

http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2011/08/ergative-verbs-what-on-earth-are-they.html

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26014 Warsaw Will Fri, 1 Aug 2014 11:51:55 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26014 "Now we all know who is the agent that increases taxes" - something not quite right there: "Now we all know who it is that increases taxes, who the agent is"

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26013 Warsaw Will Fri, 1 Aug 2014 11:48:35 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26013 First, jayles is right that there is a lot of antipathy to the passive from people who really should know better, especially in American writing schools - their reason being that they see it as 'wimpy' and avoiding responsibility. One striking aspect of this criticism, is that many of these critics routinely misidentify the passive. Linguist Geoffrey Pullum has collected many of these examples at Language Log, and I've written about it here (with links to Pullum):

http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-misidentifying-passive-and-passive.html.

Funnily enough, I've also written about ergative verbs on my blog, and I gave this example of one, which is where the object of a transitive can also be used as the subject of the same verb used intransitively:

"Little Johnny broke the window when playing with his ball." - transitive active
"The window was broken when little Johnny was playing with his ball." -transitive passive
"The window broke when little Johnny was playing with his ball."- intransitive use

Naturally, the window didn't break of its own accord, but I think most of us would accept the third variation as being OK. Of course children use this as a way of trying to avoid blame - "Mummy! My toy broke!" Most ergative verbs are related to cooking - "the pasta was simmering away", changes of state - "the door opened", general movement and the movement of vehicles - "the plane circled overhead".

I notice that under the heading "Verbs expressing change" I've included a section on "Beginning and ending, increasing and decreasing", including such verbs as "begin, finish, decrease, grow, fade" - "The sun had faded the colours / The colours had faded in the sun."

Ngram graphs would suggest be true that the intransitive use of some of these verbs has increasing in the last forty years or so:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=translates+as&year_start=1900&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Ctranslates%20as%3B%2Cc0

It seems to me that this intransitive use is more common with some of these verbs than others, and I can see no reason to object to the intransitive use with "increase", for example. And I would argue, that this is really more about transitive vs intransitive use, than active vs passive. Take, for example:

"The government have increased taxes again!"
"Taxes have been increased again!"
"Taxes have increased again"

Now we all know who is the agent that increases taxes, and so a passive example is very unlikely to mention the agent - so I can't see any great improvement in using the passive here. But perhaps that's because I'm so used to teaching students that "increase" and "decrease" can be both transitive and intransitive.

Although the growth in the use of "translates as" seems fairly recent, it seems perfectly idiomatic to me, and this use is listed in Oxford Online. It goes back at least a century: this is from 1911 - "In the second volume of the historical annals of Korea is found a reference to rain gauges which translates as follows: "In the 24th year ..."

The lack of any mention in either Fowler (3rd ed) or MWDEU would suggest that this has not been considered problematic by commentators. I would also suggest that your passive example - "That is translated as 'Beware Greeks bearing gifts.'" sounds as though it has been translated like this on a particular occasion, by a particular translator, not simply that that is its meaning in English.

I agree that the "situation transformed" example sounds a bit odd at first, and at a cursory glance at Google Books I can't find any examples of this use much before 1980. But Oxford Online has this example:

"a wry cynicism rapidly transforms into an overwhelming sense of sourness" - I don't suppose cynicism has volition either. The definition given here being "Undergo a marked change".

(Incidentally, I don't think volition has a lot to do with it - "It was an event that would transform my life.". Events don't have volition either. And even when chrysalises transform into butterflies, I don't suppose there's much volition involved there either. The question for me, is whether a verb that is normally used transitively sounds natural when used intransitively.)

I doubt there would be any objection to “The situation changed into something quite different.” , so I can't really see any logical reason why transform shouldn't be used in a similar way.

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Comment on obstinacy vs. obstinancy by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/4205/#comment-26012 Hairy Scot Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:26:53 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4205/#comment-26012 If it's in the OED then that's enough for me!

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Comment on Are proverbs dying? by Rdavis202 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5294/#comment-26011 Rdavis202 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:20:57 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5294/#comment-26011 I don't think English proverbs or idioms are dying. I teach in Korea and always recommend that students watch TV shows and movies in order to study in their free time. A popular show for Korean ESL students is friends. There are a lot of idioms, proverbs, and slang used so they always need to look up the meanings on the internet. The other day I had students tell me it sure is raining "cats and dogs" which really surprised me. I asked where he heard it and he said he heard it on an episode of the show. To mix in some fun with their uses I use this site to teach some of the meanings. http://www.stickyball.net/idioms.html There are some great examples and questions to check the correct uses.

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Comment on obstinacy vs. obstinancy by Casper45 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4205/#comment-26010 Casper45 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:02:39 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4205/#comment-26010 Both words have near exact meanings; however, Obstinacy is a noun and Obstinate is an adjective, so the way you use these 2 words will differ.

Example #1: Obstinate

Obstinate and unyielding, the judge refused to give the defendant credit for time served. (Obstinate is an adjective. Adjectives describe nouns. Obstinate clearly describes the judge's unwillingness to give the defendant credit for time served.)

Example #2: Obstinacy

No matter what logic or rationale I used, nothing I came up with could break through her obstinacy. (You can see how obstinacy isn't an adjective. Simply replace Obstinate in the first example with Obstinacy and notice how off the sentence reads.

Obstinacy is a quality or trait, and we know a noun is a person, place, or thing. Well, a quality is a thing, making Obstinacy a noun.

P.S. I didn't write the sentences myself. I got them from this site. http://wordsinasentence.com/vocabulary-word-list/ However, I did write the explanations. :)

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26009 jayles the unwoven Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:50:17 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26009 @SL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergative_verb

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_ergative_verbs

"Transform" is there on the list of so-called ergative verbs.

I must confess when I first came across this stuff, it took me months to get to grips with it all; but in fact it is rather important when teaching English to speakers of languages where the passive either just exists not, or works not in the same way as English.

Enjoy.

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26008 Skeeter Lewis Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:18:10 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26008 @Jayles. "Interest rates increased." Good example. Clever old interest rates.
It leaves one wondering where the rest of the sentence is. I don't mind the passive in moderation so long as it is a true passive, not this strange form that obeys no rule of logic.

Oddly, in my previous post I was about to do the same thing myself. I nearly wrote, "The sentences should read this way." Sentences don't read. People do.

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26007 jayles the unwoven Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:53:37 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26007 @SL I think quite a number of style guides suggest that one should avoid the passive wherever possible.
There are still a few verbs pairs in English (like rise/raise, fall/fell) where the causative transitive is marked, but for the most part we do not mark it in English; thus we say:
a) "Interest rates increased" (somehow by themselves)
b) "Interest rates were increased" - (someone/thing caused them to rise)
What has happened here with "transform" is that the writer has applied the same (ergative) approach to avoid a passive: no reason why not, although it may be new to some of us.

A similar thing happened in Hungarian, and under pressure from style gurus the passive has all but disappeared from modern Hungarian (it remains only in the verb for 'to be born'); the 'ergative' forms are often distinctly marked. The end result is that professional Eng->Hung translators are often left scratching their heads when faced with an English passive; this is why I believe that those who preach that the passive is to be avoided at all costs are misguided: it is there to be used as and when needed, but not to excess.

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26006 Skeeter Lewis Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:33:44 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26006 Exactly. There is no passive there. And there should be.
The sentences should run this way:
"The situation was transformed into something quite different."
"That is translated as 'Beware Greeks bearing gifts.'"
Situations can't transform and words can't translate. They lack volition.

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Comment on What’s happening to the Passive? by Jasper http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26005 Jasper Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:36:39 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5302/#comment-26005 What passive are you talking about? I see no passive.

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Comment on “Liquid water”? by Leptomaniac http://painintheenglish.com/case/4981/#comment-26004 Leptomaniac Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:10:56 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4981/#comment-26004 Depending on the context 'water' can be used to describe the liquid state of a collection of H2O molecules, any collection of H2O molecules or even a single H2O molecule (in which case trying to describe it as being solid, liquid, gas, etc. without consideration of the other matter around it is essentially meaningless).

So, while it may sound strange it is indeed correct when using the following definition of the word: "a collection of H2O molecules." Because, of course, a collection of water molecules, depending on their temperature and pressure, could be in one (or perhaps more) of several different states.

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Comment on subwait by AnWulf http://painintheenglish.com/case/5287/#comment-26003 AnWulf Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:28:12 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5287/#comment-26003 I gess my whole thought is that the word "subwait" is unneed unless it is an offshoot of a bigger waiting area ... thus the "sub-". A few chairs by a door isn't truly a waiting area as a waiting spot but then the name "subwait" is not only not needed but not fitting either.

If the "subwait" is indeed a smaller waiting room off to the side of the main waiting room ... or nearby ... then I still like "wait-cove" as a better. "Subwait" truly doesn't mean much to me ... again, it sounds like a place to wait for my sub sandwich or, if I were a sailor, a slip for a submarine.

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Comment on subwait by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5287/#comment-26002 jayles the unwoven Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:45:03 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5287/#comment-26002 @AnWulf The surgery in question used to be a couple of doctors in a rather homely converted detached house; now they have merged with others into a new clinic with a largish reception area and a fair walk to the subwait area - the first visit they escort you there in case you get lost. After all, there's a dozen consulting rooms, and other places for minor surgery and so on. I guess that's why they need the designation and signage 'subwait area'.
I suppose they could say 'go down the corridor, turn left and wait outside door number nine';
the old homey place was more personal was less impersonal though.

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Comment on subwait by AnWulf http://painintheenglish.com/case/5287/#comment-26001 AnWulf Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:46:00 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5287/#comment-26001 Then is it too much troubl to say ... "Wait by the door?" Do folks truly need to be told that they can sit in the chairs by the door?

However, the qwik look that I did, showed that a subwait is only slight smaller than the waiting room. Look at fig. 4-138 ... It indeeds looks more like a wait-cove:

http://books.google.com/books?id=DinDxI9yKMsC&pg=PA252&dq=subwait&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tIjNU7mmHajisASo-YHwDg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=subwait&f=false

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-26000 Skeeter Lewis Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:44:12 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-26000 @Jasper Saying 'idiomaticity' should be a test of sobriety.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25999 Skeeter Lewis Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:29:51 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25999 @JaspernotJason....Thank you.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Jasper http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25998 Jasper Mon, 21 Jul 2014 07:35:24 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25998 @Warsaw Will,

First, I'm not Jason. I'm Jasper.

I did react poorly. I may have been grumpy/irritable when/before I wrote it. And although I focus on formal grammar when I look at something, I do not discount informal grammar. I try to adhere to formal grammar that makes some semblance of sense. So my focus is always on the grammar and not so much on spoken language and the idiomaticity of the sentence.

As for Quirk et al., yes, that is what I am talking about. Reading it can be arduous. If you ever come by a copy, I suggest reading the chapter on adverbials. It is by far the most fascinating chapter.

After thinking about "who am I to be treated this way?", I don't see it as questionable anymore.

@jayles,

I don't think that I would deem myself academic. I don't believe that I have the breadth of knowledge to be described as such. I think life-long learner would be a better fit.

I'm going to wait and mull over your posts a little more before responding to them.

@Skeeter Lewis,

That is a particularly evocative post I must say, in an enlightening way, that is.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25997 jayles the unwoven Sun, 20 Jul 2014 22:18:49 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25997 @WW
"If I repeat the point about usage, it is because this is one of the few language forums where this is not considered important."

Where is your evidence for this? ;=))

Sadly many normal, common or garden people believe their own opinions and are left unswayed by overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Vlad the Impaler, Tony B, Slobodan are names that spring to mind as examples.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25996 jayles the unwoven Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:23:02 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25996 sic transeunt populi anglici linguae gloriae

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25995 jayles the unwoven Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:11:50 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25995 @Jasper Perhaps the root of the problem in English lies in the word roots:
http://etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=this&searchmode=none
http://etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=that&searchmode=none

"This" and "that" seem etymologically to be neuter and cannot refer to people as a pronoun.
I guess that is why we say not "It depends on that, who sits there." The outcome is that we search for another word and come up with "person", so in that way "It depends on the person sitting there." is NOT avoiding the issue - it is the true grammatical way of saying it - since we have, if you wish, no demonstrative pronoun for one person - it is a lost inflection.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25994 jayles the unwoven Sun, 20 Jul 2014 20:30:01 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25994 @Jasper Not sure I can help you here; in truth I am not very academic. However FWIW in German ( and up till William the Bastard et al came to stay English was germanic) one would say something like:

A) Who am I, that I should judge? (well actually more like: Who am I, that I judge should?)
B) Whom should I judge?
C) I want that she go.
D) Who is he, that he me tells, what I do should?
E) Who am I, that I thus treated am? or Who am I, that they me like this treat?

Perhaps you might also ponder:
F) It hangs therefrom, who it is. (It depends on who it is. Or "It depends on whom it is").
G) It comes thereon, what was said. (It depends on that, which was said.)

Sentences F/G shows the conflict in English and how other Euro languages like German, Russian, Hungarian operate so there is no issue - one must always put in "therefrom", "thereon", or whatever.

We do something similar in English with sentences like:
Those whom God hath joined, let no man put asunder.
He who dares wins.

English had lost many inflections since 1066 (and before) so what we have left are often unneeded to put across the meaning. We use word order instead, so that "John hit his wife" is meaning-wise the reverse of "His wife hit John", and "John his wife hit" would might mean John got beat up (OSV), but might be SOV. (In Russian the inflections make it clear either way). But in Englsh we only really have I/me, he/him, who/whom, this/these,that/those to play with.

The telling point is that "this" and "that" do not usually refer to a person in English, whereas "those" often does. This leads to conflict as in:

H) It depends on whoever is sitting there.
I) It depends on whomever is sitting here. (I would mark this wrong)
J) It depends on the person sitting there. (common way to avoid the issue)

In Russian one might say something like:
k) It depends on that, who is sitting there. (where "that" is inflected to show it is a person)

Hope this helps

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25993 Skeeter Lewis Sun, 20 Jul 2014 18:02:10 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25993 We all have a lot invested emotionally in our culture, and language is the repository of so much of it. It has to do with how we see ourselves individually and collectively. One can't always be clinical about these matters.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25992 Hairy Scot Sun, 20 Jul 2014 17:38:30 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25992 Grammar, like so much in the English language, is very often more about opinions than rules.
I am sure that even noted grammarians differ on many aspects of it.
That being so, it is no surprise that mere mortals like us differ on so many points.

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Comment on When did contacting someone become reaching out? by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25991 Hairy Scot Sun, 20 Jul 2014 17:18:29 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25991 Apologies for the errant apostrophe in my previous post.

Dyske, can we please have an edit function?

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Comment on When did contacting someone become reaching out? by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25990 Hairy Scot Sun, 20 Jul 2014 17:16:22 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25990 @WW
"Beat you to it HS"
Indeed.
I should have performed a more diligent search.

I never heard that particular phrase during my time in the IT business, although I do agree that area of business has always been a wellspring of management speak.
The phrase in question first assaulted my ears during an episode of a TV series entitled "Crisis" where it was used in the context of FBI personnel requesting information from various parties.
However it was it's appearance in the recent emails which drove me to raise the issue on PITE.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25989 Warsaw Will Sun, 20 Jul 2014 09:54:53 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25989 @Jason - I must confess I hadn't read your final concessionary paragraph until now. So sorry about that.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25988 Warsaw Will Sun, 20 Jul 2014 09:50:03 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25988 @Skeeter Lewis - I sort of gathered after I posted - sorry. And I agree with you that both sides should take a step back. I was rather taken aback by Jason's 'I don't care' and 'spout off ESL' comments, and went into defensive mode.

@Jason - concession where concession is due. I have discovered that there is indeed a school of thought amongst linguists that 'wh' words in simple interrogatives function as complements, and so I now accept your position there (although I don't think that's the case with 'wh' relative pronouns - but I won't insist on that). I also got a bit confused between 'subject-operator inversion' (the phrase you used) and subject-auxiliary inversion (the term we normally use).

If by Quirk et al, you are talking about 'The Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language', I take my hat off to you - it's enormous)

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25987 Skeeter Lewis Sun, 20 Jul 2014 09:31:39 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25987 It was meant light-heartedly and not meant to offend.
I think both sides in this continuing debate need to take a step back. If either side expresses itself too forcefully then the good-natured, enjoyable element is lost. And I say that in a non-partisan way.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25986 Warsaw Will Sun, 20 Jul 2014 07:01:03 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25986 @Skeeter Lewis - As we are often on opposite sides in these dicussions, I took your comment at face value. But I'm now beginning to wonder if your comment wasn't perhaps meant to be ironic, in which case I take that back.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25985 Warsaw Will Sun, 20 Jul 2014 06:47:52 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25985 "It's true - dear old Will does try to bludgeon us to death with his tolerance." - so a mere one person standing up for a different view to the one held (and oft repeated) by the majority (which now seems to consist of about four people) is"bludgeoning you to death" is it? I am glad that the spirit of open debate is still alive and kicking.

First of all, this question was about the use of 'whom', and as this is probably the single area where traditional formal grammar is most out of kilter with normal spoken English, I think that my point there was totally relevant. Tell me honestly, who among you would say 'Whom did he want to meet?'

If I repeat the point about usage, it is because this is one of the few language forums where this is not considered important.

I may have been a bit critical of Jason's example sentences, but that was because I genuinely didn't understand them, so had some difficulty in the point he was making.

You may have noticed that activity on this forum has been pretty sparse lately, and if the intolerance now being shown by some people to those with opposing views is to prevail, I can't see this situation getting much better. From now on I'll choose the threads I comment on rather more carefully. And I don't think this will be one of them.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Jasper http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25984 Jasper Sun, 20 Jul 2014 06:25:48 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25984 @jayles,

Well, for the question at hand: whether it should be who or whom in these constructions. As for importance, I like challenging problems that in some cases requires looking at them from a different angle and like having a solution wherever possible. I know that that is not always possible, but I still like to try.

Well, as an organized person, I tend to like things to be as neat as possible. I like being able to describe things precisely and in an organized way, but if the terminology isn't there or inadequate, then we need to adjust our thinking and determine how to add whatever it is that we are dealing with into grammar.

On languages, I know some facts here and there about other languages. Some words from some, but unfortunately, I don't actually know how to speak or write any other language. It's one of my regrets. I plan to teach myself German at some point however. I have a grammar book, but on my list of priorities it's low as of right now. I did read a few pages when i got it, but stopped due to homework.

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Comment on When did contacting someone become reaching out? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25983 Warsaw Will Sun, 20 Jul 2014 06:24:28 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25983 Beat you to it HS - http://painintheenglish.com/case/5118 - apparently it's quite common in something close to your ex-line of business - tech companies.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25982 jayles the unwoven Sat, 19 Jul 2014 15:49:05 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25982 @Jasper I must confess that thick as I am, I am still not entirely lucid on what exactly you are trying to clarify and why this is so important to you. Is it just that you wish these sentences to fit in with some neat boxed-up grammatical terminology?
BTW are you familiar with German or any other languages besides English?

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Jasper http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25981 Jasper Sat, 19 Jul 2014 03:24:35 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25981 @jayles,

Yes, I agree with that. Makes perfect sense.

@Skeeter Lewis,

Exactly, as regulars, we know each other's positions on certain matters. We don't need to hear restatements of those things and to get sidetracked into an issue of descriptivism vs. prescriptivism on every page.


@Warsaw Will,

"Wow! Someone got out of bed on the wrong side this morning. But I'll ignore all the negative stuff and try and answer some of your points:

I'm sorry you think that some arbitrary rules that hardly any educated speakers actually follow in spoken language (which is definitely the case with 'whom') are more important than the natural idiomatic language the majority of educated speakers actually speak."

Yes, I was angry because most of the time you post something you have to have some mention of vernacular grammar.

I don't care whether other people follow the "arbitrary" rules or not in spoken or written language; I do however care about whether I follow the "arbitrary" rules.

"What you call 'standard grammar' is in effect formal grammar, and it is not, for example, the definition used by linguists. And my position on this is not simply of EFL, but of modern linguistics in general.

When I look at a grammatical problem, I look for the formal—most standard—answer. Standard English is a gradient and I see it as such. Formal is at the most standard end and very, very informal is at the most nonstandard end. I apologize for misrepresenting your position.

"You say: No, "who" is not the subject of "am", but "I" is. This is basic subject-operator inversion common in interrogative sentences; if it were "who is going to the mall", then yes, but here, no.

Well, that is contentious to say the least. As your example shows, 'standard subject-operator inversion' is not used when 'who' refers to the subject. Why should it be any different with 'be'?

'Who hit Mandy?' subject + verb + direct object
'Who is Mandy?' subject + verb + subject complement"

Then if who isn't the subject complement, then why does the verb agree with the pronouns in these sentences?

Who am I? (am agrees with I not who)
Who are they? (are agrees with they)
Who is she? (etc.)

Third person singular agrees with who when it is subject:

[1] A: Who is going to the store?
B: I am (going to the store).

[2] A: Who likes playing basketball?
B: I do.
C: He (B) does.

"This is from your StackExchange link: 'Notice that there is nothing in between the auxiliary "will" and the verb "be", and so, that means that there hasn't been any subject-auxiliary inversion, and that means that the subjects are "Which" and "What". ' "

That's comparing apples and carrots and you know it. We are not talking about "will be" and we are not talking about "which" and "what". We are talking about simple present tense "be" and "who/whom"

"We could both find opinions here to support our argument, but these are both only forums: they prove nothing."

That's just absurd. We have the rules and we have brains; we therefore can objectively scrutinize and deduce an answer. I'm sure you'll now proudly trumpet descriptivism vs. prescriptivism because of the last sentence. So essentially the fact that they are forums means that people who are proficient and educated in grammar can't come to a conclusion? Bullshit. That's disrespectful to any person who offers an answer on forums and, frankly, anywhere. And what's to stop me from disregarding what you say? Yours is just an opinion.

"As for your other examples - you say 'How hard are they to understand?' And you give the example: 'For "I am who to be", think of it as some king standing over his people and saying this sentence to mean: emulate me, aspire to be my glory.' Well, I think that's stretching it a bit, but OK when it's explained it might be possible . But I doubt anybody actually speaks like that. There are precisely two examples in the whole Internet, neither of which have this meaning, and both of which sound distinctly odd - .

'For thy guiding hand of thee, Thou I am who to be proud'
'Who are you who do not know that I am who to be set to create him as a Prophet' "

Nobody might speak like that, yes, but no one speaks in a myriad of ways. Each person has a different diction to another's. Agreed the examples provided are odd sounding, but with a minimum of concentration, they make sense.

"And the others:

‘I am he to judge.’ - one example - 'I am he to judge and he to know, I am he to rain justice upon the masses and conquer ALL!' - but one swallow doesn't make a swallow."

‘I am him to judge’ - no examples outside this forum

‘I am he to be.’ - a handful, mostly either from foreigners or misprints

(Now ‘I am not the one to judge’ I would understand)

‘I am him to be.’ - no examples outside this forum, but at a pinch I could imagine Jesus saying it in the KJV (but it doesn't occur in any books)”

I don’t necessarily see what any of these prove. Have the sentences happened before? “Well, no, yes, no.” (The yeses and no’s are responses based on the examples above). Have there been grammatical sentences that have never been uttered? “Well, yeah.” So if grammatical sentences that have never been spoken can be formed, why does it matter that they haven’t occurred?


“These simply are not idiomatic English, to my ear, but more the sort of thing Yoda might come out with. But if that's what floats your boat, who am I to argue - or should that be 'whom', perhaps?"

The idiomaticity of the construction isn’t the point. I’m talking about the grammar of it, which can winnow through. Yoda speaks with object fronting if I recall or perhaps verb & object fronting. I would say "who" in this case and in the "to judge" one as I've stated in the post before my last.

I think the rule with infinitive is based on the commonness of an infinitive with a transitive verb. I have become more confident about this view since I encountered “Raised object” in Quirk et al., but in this construction, I think it would be more apt to describe it as a “Raised subject complement”.

“Here are a couple of (I would suggest more realistic) examples 'who' + 'be' + infinitive, where I think we can more or less rule out 'whom' (see the respective Ngram graphs):


'Who is he to tell me what to do?'
'Who am I to be treated this way?' "

I agree with the first, but the second with the passive infinitive seems very slightly questionable.

Will, I don't care about the battles and the overarching war between the two sides. Nero played the fiddle whilst Rome burned. I only care about my fiddling. I hope there isn't any animosity between us because of this. I disagree with your position, but I also respect and see some of its benefits in analyzing grammar from a new angle, as it was done in Quirk et al, which I have almost finished reading.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25980 jayles the unwoven Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:33:32 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25980 @Jasper To my mind, there is a difference in the usage of "am" in the following:

A) Who am I to judge?
B) Whom am I to judge?

In A "am" is a true copula.

In B "am" is a sort of modal auxiliary: the verb "be" plus infinitive conveys something like "must", "have to", "should"; much used in business and military as in "All employees are to submit timesheets by Monday 0900 at the latest."

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Comment on When did contacting someone become reaching out? by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25979 jayles the unwoven Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:15:17 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25979 @HS Thank you for reaching out to us in your hour of need. As you now know, we operate an outreach program for those whom the modern vernacular has left feeling bewildered, betrayed and benighted.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25978 Skeeter Lewis Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:27:10 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25978 It's true - dear old Will does try to bludgeon us to death with his tolerance.

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Comment on When did contacting someone become reaching out? by Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25977 Skeeter Lewis Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:23:51 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5299/#comment-25977 'Reaching out' is one of those naff, feely-touchy phrases that companies have started to use to show they CARE.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25976 Warsaw Will Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:34:07 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25976 One swallow doesn't make a summer!

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25975 Warsaw Will Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:31:55 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25975 Wow! Someone got out of bed on the wrong side this morning. But I'll ignore all the negative stuff and try and answer some of your points:

I'm sorry you think that some arbitrary rules that hardly any educated speakers actually follow in spoken language (which is definitely the case with 'whom') are more important than the natural idiomatic language the majority of educated speakers actually speak.

What you call 'standard grammar' is in effect formal grammar, and it is not, for example, the definition used by linguists. And my position on this is not simply of EFL, but of modern linguistics in general.

You say: No, "who" is not the subject of "am", but "I" is. This is basic subject-operator inversion common in interrogative sentences; if it were "who is going to the mall", then yes, but here, no.

Well, that is contentious to say the least. As your example shows, 'standard subject-operator inversion' is not used when 'who' refers to the subject. Why should it be any different with 'be'?

'Who hit Mandy?' subject + verb + direct object
'Who is Mandy?' subject + verb + subject complement

This is from your StackExchange link: 'Notice that there is nothing in between the auxiliary "will" and the verb "be", and so, that means that there hasn't been any subject-auxiliary inversion, and that means that the subjects are "Which" and "What". '

We could both find opinions here to support our argument, but these are both only forums: they prove nothing.

As for your other examples - you say 'How hard are they to understand?' And you give the example: 'For "I am who to be", think of it as some king standing over his people and saying this sentence to mean: emulate me, aspire to be my glory.' Well, I think that's stretching it a bit, but OK when it's explained it might be possible . But I doubt anybody actually speaks like that. There are precisely two examples in the whole Internet, neither of which have this meaning, and both of which sound distinctly odd - .

'For thy guiding hand of thee, Thou I am who to be proud'
'Who are you who do not know that I am who to be set to create him as a Prophet'

And the others:

“I am he to judge.” - one example - 'I am he to judge and he to know, I am he to rain justice upon the masses and conquer ALL!' - but one swallow doesn't make a swallow.

“I am him to judge” - no examples outside this forum

“I am he to be.” - a handful, mostly either from foreigners or misprints

(Now "I am not the one to judge" I would understand)

“I am him to be.” - no examples outside this forum, but at a pinch I could imagine Jesus saying it in the KJV (but it doesn't occur in any books)

These simply are not idiomatic English, to my ear, but more the sort of thing Yoda might come out with. But if that's what floats your boat, who am I to argue - or should that be 'whom', perhaps?

Here are a couple of (I would suggest more realistic) examples 'who' + 'be' + infinitive, where I think we can more or less rule out 'whom' (see the respective Ngram graphs):

'Who is he to tell me what to do?'
'Who am I to be treated this way?'

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Who+is+he+to%2CWhom+is+he+to&year_start=1900&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2CWho%20is%20he%20to%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CWhom%20is%20he%20to%3B%2Cc0


http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Who+am+I+to%2CWhom+am+I+to&year_start=1900&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2CWho%20am%20I%20to%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CWhom%20am%20I%20to%3B%2Cc0

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Jasper http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25974 Jasper Fri, 18 Jul 2014 05:38:38 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25974 @jayles,

Although I put copular verbs, I was mainly focused on "be". As I'm sure you know, other copular verbs take objective case pronouns, e.g., I became him (not he). I probably should have simply put "be". It was a gaffe.

I'm beginning to think the subject of infinitive being in the objective case is dependent on the predicate of the main (matrix) clause. To illustrate by using [1] above:

[1] Who am I to judge?
≈I am he (the person) to judge (x).

Who is the subject complement and subject of the infinitive "to judge", but its status as subject complement takes precedence:

[1] Whom am I to judge?
=I am to judge (x/them/...)

Now [2] may be "whom" because it may actually be the object of the infinitive phrase rather than the subject of the phrase:

I am to be (him/the one/...)

I just realized I made a mistake in my initial analysis, which Warsaw Will pointed out, I believe.

"[2a'] “I am the person (who) you should be.” (U)
[2b'] “I am the person (whom) you should be.” (A)"

[2a'] is acceptable while [2b'] is not. They should be reversed. Whoops.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25973 jayles the unwoven Fri, 18 Jul 2014 04:26:08 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25973 There is a list of copula verbs here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_copulae

Right now I cannot see how to follow any of these with a complement and then an infinitive.

It is perfectly true that in English we often come across an infinitive preceded by an object pronoun which seems to act as the subject of the infinitive: I want him to come, I persuaded him to come, I warned him not to come, I wish him to come.

Quite how English acquired this type of construction I know not (although there is something similar in Latin, other Euro languages tend to say "I want that she go" - je veux qu'elle aille). English just seems quirky here and the structure varies from one verb to the next.

But with a copula???

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Jasper http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25972 Jasper Fri, 18 Jul 2014 01:15:22 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25972 Also from my grammar book:

"How to Find the Subject of a Sentence"

3. To find the subject in a question, turn the question into statement form.

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25971 Hairy Scot Fri, 18 Jul 2014 01:08:06 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25971 To paraphrase a much misquoted line:-
"I don't know much about grammar, but I know what I like".


:-))

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Jasper http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25970 Jasper Fri, 18 Jul 2014 00:52:52 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25970 @jayles,

Yes, that's more like it. Thank you.

@Warsaw Will,

"I have very grave doubts about your opening premise, beloved by certain grammar sites, that if the answer is 'him', it must be 'whom'."

I have heard this all before. I don't care that you're descriptivist on grammar and that you don't care about standard grammar, but I do care. You don't have to spout off ESL and what's common in speech every time you answer a question. Maybe answering the question without expressing you're perspective would be better.

"1 - “Who am I to judge?” - this is such a well-known expression there should be no question of using 'whom' - in any case 'who' is the subject here (not 'I'), so 'whom' would be plain wrong."

Yes, I said in my opening statement: "After writing most of this, I think [1] should be who now."

"2 - “I am who/whom to be.” - sorry, but I have no idea what's going on here, nor for the rest of sentences 1a to 2d, which as far as I'm concerned, simply aren't English.

[1a] to [2d] is expressing [1] and [2] in various declarative sentences. How hard are they to understand? For "I am who to be", think of it as some king standing over his people and saying this sentence to mean: emulate me, aspire to be my glory.


"I can't agree with your classifications here. I know we say things like 'What would you do if you were me?', but in this case 'who' is more natural - 'whom' is hardly ever used in restrictive relative clauses, even with non-copular verbs - 'He's the person who you should see' is much more natural then 'He's the person whom you should see'. "

I'm not talking about naturalness or whether it's frequently used. Get off this descriptivist mindset and focus on the problem.

"Actually the most natural thing is to leave the relative pronoun out altogether, which you can always do in restrictive relative clauses when it refers to the object - 'I am the person you should be.', 'He's the person you should see.' - problem solved!"

I know that's why I put them in parentheses. As for "problem solved", no, that's avoiding and going around it. That is most certainly not my style. I work through it until an answer is reached.

"As jayles says 'It is I who am (the boss around here)' is standard (or more likely - 'It's me who's the boss around here'). But it's not anything to do with coming after the copular verb: it's because 'who' is the subject of the following verb."

This isn't even relevant!

"The need for a second verb to have a subject overrides everything else. Here's a common error (according to traditional grammar) - 'Whom shall I say is calling?' - take away 'shall I say' and the real question is 'Who is calling?' - the need for 'calling' to have a subject overrides the need for 'say' to have an object.

This would support the infinitive's requirement of having the objective case, but I'm beginning to think otherwise.

"In - 'Who am I to be?' (again, rather a strange sentence) 'who' is simply the subject of 'am', not the subject complement / object of 'to be'. Perhaps a more natural example using exactly the same construction - 'OK. Who's it to be? Mandy or Sandy?' - Nobody would ever say 'Whom is it to be?' "

No, "who" is not the subject of "am", but "I" is. This is basic subject-operator inversion common in interrogative sentences; if it were "who is going to the mall", then yes, but here, no.

"There seems to be some confusion over subject complements and subjects here. When 'who' comes at the beginning of an interrogative sentence before 'be', it is always the subject. Even the most purist grammarian can only use 'whom' when another word appears before the verb as a subject, as in your example - 'Whom did he want to meet?'"

Again, no, it's not... and after finding some links, may be.

http://www.englishforums.com/English/WhichUsedSubjectComplement/zcrpq/post.htm

http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/152605/are-these-interrogatives-subjects-or-complements-for-verbs

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Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25969 Warsaw Will Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:30:30 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5296/#comment-25969 “Whom did he want to meet?” - Does anyone actually say that? Conversationally? Apart from in radio dramas, etc.

I have very grave doubts about your opening premise, beloved by certain grammar sites, that if the answer is 'him', it must be 'whom'. The fact is that 'whom' is rarely used in spoken English, either in direct questions or in relative clauses - . In EFL, we teach that the only time you need to use it is after a preposition. Formal written work is another matter, of course, but that's not the place I'd expect to find a sentence like “Whom did he want to meet?”, except in dialogue.

But for the sake of the game:

1 - “Who am I to judge?” - this is such a well-known expression there should be no question of using 'whom' - in any case 'who' is the subject here (not 'I'), so 'whom' would be plain wrong.

2 - “I am who/whom to be.” - sorry, but I have no idea what's going on here, nor for the rest of sentences 1a to 2d, which as far as I'm concerned, simply aren't English.

[2a'] “I am the person (who) you should be.” (U)
[2b'] “I am the person (whom) you should be.” (A)

I can't agree with your classifications here. I know we say things like 'What would you do if you were me?', but in this case 'who' is more natural - 'whom' is hardly ever used in restrictive relative clauses, even with non-copular verbs - 'He's the person who you should see' is much more natural then 'He's the person whom you should see'.

Actually the most natural thing is to leave the relative pronoun out altogether, which you can always do in restrictive relative clauses when it refers to the object - 'I am the person you should be.', 'He's the person you should see.' - problem solved!

As jayles says 'It is I who am (the boss around here)' is standard (or more likely - 'It's me who's the boss around here'). But it's not anything to do with coming after the copular verb: it's because 'who' is the subject of the following verb.

The need for a second verb to have a subject overrides everything else. Here's a common error (according to traditional grammar) - 'Whom shall I say is calling?' - take away 'shall I say' and the real question is 'Who is calling?' - the need for 'calling' to have a subject overrides the need for 'say' to have an object.

In - 'Who am I to be?' (again, rather a strange sentence) 'who' is simply the subject of 'am', not the subject complement / object of 'to be'. Perhaps a more natural example using exactly the same construction - 'OK. Who's it to be? Mandy or Sandy?' - Nobody would ever say 'Whom is it to be?'

There seems to be some confusion over subject complements and subjects here. When 'who' comes at the beginning of an interrogative sentence before 'be', it is always the subject. Even the most purist grammarian can only use 'whom' when another word appears before the verb as a subject, as in your example - 'Whom did he want to meet?'

But life's so much easier when you forget about 'whom' altogether.

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