Monday, April 22, 2013

Who? Whom? With Whom? Who With?

Lately I have been seeing a construction that really bugs me. It involves the use of "whom" and ending a sentence with the preposition "with."

Example: "Whom should we sit with?"

(1) I am well aware that language rules have changed since I was taught not to end a sentence with a preposition. It is now acceptable to do so whenever you want. This helps us avoid such peculiar constructions as those provided by Oxford Dictionaries. The statement above would become "With whom should we sit?" Oddly, that sounds better to me than "Whom should we sit with?"

(2) I am very well educated in the use of "who" vs "whom." In the above example, "whom" is correct.

So, why does this construction bother me so much? I think maybe it is such an awkward blend of "correct" and "formerly incorrect" usage. I liken it to wearing a tuxedo jacket and shirt (whom) with hiking shorts ("with" at the end of the sentence).

The fact is, "Whom should we sit with?" is correct usage.

My final answer: I will be quite pleased when we stop using "whom" altogether. It sounds stilted and people struggle way too much with trying to choose between "whom" and "who."

There. I feel much better. Now, whom should I have lunch with? (sigh)


  1. Interesting post. The word whom (which I find myself using from time to time, because it's correct and fits) doesn't seem to fit the sentence 'Whom should we sit with?"" as well as 'Who should we sit with?" As you pointed out the correct ""With whom should we sit?" does fit. It's a bit like to whom am I speaking vs to who am I speaking .... goes off to ponder some more.

    1. I think maybe our ears prefer the use of "who" (rather than "whom") as the first word in a sentence because it *sounds* like it's the subject of the sentence rather than being the object of a preposition (which it is, even though the preposition is at the end of the sentence). And of course "who" is always correct when used as the subject of a sentence or phrase, and "whom" is always correct when used as the object of a preposition. It's a pretty pickle.


So, what do you say?