Grammar Blogger: Learning From Xiaxue's Mistake

In today's lesson, we are going to educate our readers about a common grammatical mistake made in blogging so that you will not repeat it in your future blog posts. We will use an excerpt from Xiaxue's blog.

"So yeah, back to my interest in the elections. So what if I care? I know I have a blog and maybe it can sway some Americans' opinions on who to vote for, but I do not pretend to be smart enough or informed enough to tell others what to do!"

The error lies in the usage of the pronoun 'who'. The presidential candidate is the object while the group of American netizens is the subject. Since she is referring to the object of the sentence, the correct
phrase should be 'whom to vote for'. If you are unable to comprehend the previous three sentences, below is a more simpler explanation:

Use 'whom' when the answer of the question ends with either a him, her or them. For example, if the question is, 'Whom are you voting for?'. The answer is 'I am voting for him.'. Nonetheless, if the the question is, 'Who voted for Mr Obama?'. The answer will be 'They voted for Mr Obama.'.

That is all for today. Thank you for reading. =)


reader said...


T__T said...

Nice post. I would probably fail at the grammar test.

Anonymous said...

better not let xia xue sees this... If not she will definitely posting TPJCian Magazine or even flame TPJC... I know some will say who cares... but who cares? lol

Anonymous said...

*post... hehe...

Anonymous said...

What, then, is the correct usage for the following two examples?

- Xiaxue, who/whom everyone thought was a slut, wrote an insightful article.

- It was Xiaxue and Mr Brown who/whom people said were the brightest, who stood heads and shoulders above the rest.

azhar said...

1) Everyone is the subject. It is acting. Xiaxue is the object. She is being acted upon.

Xiaxue, whom everyone thought was a slut, wrote an insightful article.

[Whom did everyone thought was a slut? Everyone thought the slut was her.]

2) The same explanation applies for this one.

It was Xiaxue and Mr Brown whom people said were the brightest, who stood heads and shoulders above the rest.

[Whom did everyone say were the brightest? Everyone said the brightest were them.]

Hope this helps! =)

Anonymous said...

You've not applied the test correctly.

QN: Who did everyone think was a slut?
ANS: Everyone thought SHE was a slut.

QN: Who did everyone think the slut was?
ANS: Everyone thought the slut was her. (your example)


QN: Who did everyone say was the brightest?
ANS: Everyone said THEY were the brightest.

Your construction - "Everyone said the brightest were them" - is not standard English.

What the above shows is that while 'whom' is generally used for the subjective case, there are exceptions.

I find it disturbing that you so profess to 'educate' your readers about grammar when your knowledge of it is at best rudimentary, if not flawed.

Anyway, a chance to redeem yourself:

- Let whoever/whomever is the best go first.

So, which is it here?

azhar said...

The answer is whoever because the person is the subject.

What I wrote in the post is not flawed. You are very wrong to accuse that it is flawed. Peace.

There are two ways to write it. If you begin with 'Who', then you answer must include 'she'.

But, if you begin with 'Whom', then you must answer with 'her'.

Language evolves. What you wrote is now the widely accepted English or what you defined as 'standard English'.

For example,
Whom do you love? I love him.

By right, the above is true. And NOT 'Who do you love?'

Your definition of standard English is the one presently and widely used nowadays.

There is no really right and wrong answer. Thank you.

We learn from each other. Peace.

Eric said...

Hi there,

This is an interesting topic to debate about. The usage of who or whom varies.

Theoretically, what the author said is true. According to Grammarbook and GrammarGirl, who=he and whom=him.

However, anonymous is also correct in saying that what the author right is not standard English used in the syllabus now.

It is difficult to say that what the author write is flawed. Perhaps, he didn't construct his answer properly.

In practice, few people use the author's rule.

Therefore, if there was a 'winner', I would say anonymous as what he said is more relevant to today's context.


Anonymous said...

Yes azhar, 'whoever' is correct, but your reasoning leaves much to be desired.

The subject in the imperative "Let whoever is the best go first" is in fact missing. To recover the subject, you use the question tag, i.e. "Let whoever is the best go first, WON'T YOU?" Using this, we can see that the elided subject is in fact "you".

Why then do we use 'whoever' in the above imperative? Notice that this particular imperative consists of a main clause and a relative clause, i.e. "whoever is the best". In this instance, we look at the function of 'whoever/whomever' in the context of the relative clause. We use 'whoever' because it is the subject of this relative clause, not because it is the subject of the main clause, for clearly, it is not.

With regard to your previous explanations, you are, unfortunately, still missing the point. Your assertion about language evolution is correct, and for certain things, there may be varying degrees of right and wrong; it is often a matter of preference. For example, most people would intuitively say "That is a big, red balloon". Semantically, it would not be an issue if you preferred "That is a red, big balloon", even though it would sound unnatural for many people. Nonetheless, it would be simply incorrect to say "That is a balloon big, red", however insistent you may be.

Language is evolving, but it is also socially structured and contextually bound. The last utterance above may become acceptable two hundred years from now, but at present, it is unequivocally wrong, and to say that there is no right or wrong is nothing more than naivete. In fact, you contradict yourself by prescribing "I love him" as the standard answer to "Whom do you love?", and then insist that there is no right or wrong. I happen to think that this particular case is correct, and any other way is wrong, but you are obviously not too sure.

We can only learn from each other when both parties have something intelligent to offer. In this case, you have none. I do not have problems with ignorant people; no one can possibly know everything. What I find antipathetic is ignoramuses who profess to enlighten and educate others.

Anonymous said...

Eric, I do not have problems with the 'rule' regarding the use of 'whom'. What I'm saying is that in language(s), there are exceptions to some of these 'rules'. The 'rules' of the social sciences are not the same as the laws of the physical sciences. Unlike most physical scientific laws, which can be subjected to falsification tests, social scientific 'rules' cannot; there are simply too many intervening variables where social agents are concerned. That is not to say, however, that these 'rules' are any less valid than the laws of physical science, just that they function within a different paradigm, of which we have to be aware and respond accordingly.

azhar said...

Thank you for your feedback. You are right.

I learnt my mistake and will improve on it.

Maybe what you wrote about me having nothing intelligent to offer and that what I wrote was totally skewed and unreliable is true.

It is my dream to own an online magazine one day. And I will always remind my humble self to work hard for it.

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