General Writing and Grammar Help/Who or whom


Dear Martha Beth Lewis,

Which of the two is correct grammatically please?

1) She has four friends WHO she knows will stick by her.

2) She has four friends WHOM she knows will stick by her.

Thank you for your time.

Let's look at the skeleton:
she has

Get rid of =she knows=, as this is just a descriptor

=four friends [etc.]= is a clause acting as a direct object

new skeleton:
she has four friends who/whom will stick

Substitute =they= and =them= for =who= and =whom= to see which makes sense:
she has four friends they will stick
she has four friend them will stick

Yes, it's your first supposition:  =they=.

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Martha Beth Lewis


I will answer questions having to do with grammar, plurals, punctuation, capitalization, mood, person, tense, and so on, as well as word usage and word choice. If you want a quick answer to a specific question, particularly if you wish to use formal American English for business or academic purposes (MLA), I can give you a timely response. I also can address word choice, clarity, structure, and similar concerns involving English as a second language. If you want advice of a deeper editorial nature (e.g., substantive [line] editing), please consult an Expert who offers this sort of assistance; I do not offer this sort of assistance.


I was employed as an editor for the graduate school at a major U.S. university and specialized in dissertations. I have over 200 publications in professional journals, consumer magazines, and newspapers. I am the author of five books and numerous syllabi in an arts field. I also am a freelance line editor, copy editor, and proofreader (over 40 years), and I have written or edited countless community organizations' newsletters and promotional materials.

Note: When using a word as a word in a sentence, such as: Put a period after the word dog, =dog= should be set in italics. Since I do not have access to italics here, I shall use = on either side of the word or phrase that properly should appear in italics. For the above example: Put a period after the word =dog=. Also, ~~please do not mark your questions as private~~. I will change them to public because I don't want to type the same answer twice! Thanks for your understanding.

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