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General Writing and Grammar Help/placement of "who" and "whom"

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Question
Dear Ted,

Can you please tell me if I am correct in thinking that the interrogative pronouns - “who” (subject) and “whom” (direct object)  are always placed as the first word in a sentence?

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich:

Can you please tell me if I am correct in thinking that the interrogative pronouns - “who” (subject) and “whom” (direct object)  are always placed as the first word in a sentence?

*** Your belief is correct, GENERALLY.  There are occasions when the word order in sentence will chance the placement and the case of the pronoun.

For example:

The book was written by WHOM?  [WHO wrote the book?]  -- The passive voice is used in place of the active voice.

Although this sentence does not follow the usual order for being interrogatory, it, nevertheless, does ask a question.  Because of the use of "by," the object of the preposition, WHOM, must be in the objective case.

Admittedly, these instances are rare.  However, since they do exist, you cannot use the adverb "always."

Another example:

To WHOM did you give the book?  In this example, WHOM must be used because it is the INDIRECT OBJECT.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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