Save me from my grammar crisis

Just when I thought I'd mastered "who" vs "whom", this sentence comes along and messes with my mind:

"The guard handed her over to a robed man, who[m] Aya assumed was a librarian, before he promptly exited the building."

Is it "whom" because the guard handed her over to "him" (the robed man) or is it "who" because Aya assumed "he" was a librarian?

Oh my... That particular sentence does make the perfect storm.

If you were referencing Aya specifically, or the robed man specifically, I would definitely say 'whom.' Yet the sentence is referencing another character through the assumptions (perception) of Aya, therefore I would want to say 'who.'

The robed man and Aya would be the subjects/objects (nouns), whereas the assumption of Aya would be a... Pardon if I screw this up... A preposition?

Every ounce of my grey matter wants to scream out "whom."

Usually I try the 'Jeopardy' approach to a sentence for this. Although in Jeopardy they are supposed to say "What is.." if it's proper grammar referencing a personality it should be "Whom is..."

Who could it be, that malignant shadow staring off at me from the other side of the room?

Whom is Bob going to ask out on a date, Candice or Jordan?

This site might help if you haven't checked it out already.

I really want to go with "whom."

Hopefully, someone will come by -who- has more knowledge, than I.

-Whom- would that be, though, is a mystery to me. =P

"The guard handed her over to a robed man, who[m] Aya assumed was a librarian, before he promptly exited the building."

Well, a few ways you can solve this conundrum, by removing the conundrum:

The guard handed her over to a robed man, before promptly exiting the building. She eyeballed her new companion. "I take it you're a librarian?"

The guard hauled her in front of a robed man, whom Aya assumed was a librarian. "Here, she's your problem now," the guard muttered, before turning on his heel and marching out the door.

So forth on so on. :)

You use "whom" when the person is the object (as opposed to subject) of the verb or preposition. In this case, it is the object of the verb "assumed", so it's "whom".

That said, "whom" has largely fallen out of common usage. It's now considered formal. So, anybody who wants to lynch you for using "who" probably needs to have someone bend them over and remove the large stick they'll find protruding from a certain orifice.


This is a bit of an aside, but on matter of principle I have to agree with Chris on this one.

That being, concerning the 'stick and orifice.'

@Unice5656, I know you're the resident 'grammar-bot,' as you put it. That's where I was going with my response above, because I know you enjoy the dynamics of grammar and you brought up a very interesting sentence.

Patrick and Chris brought up a lot of awesome stuff. Better than I.

I just have to say that I agree with Chris' viewpoint when it comes to my own work and how I see other people's work. The average reader isn't a devotee of the Chicago Manual of Style, probably wouldn't know how to use a semi-colon to save their life, and honestly would probably be put off with words like "whom" or "mayhaps."

A lot of readers (I can't speak for everyone), like stories that sound like conversations. Like they're being talked to by a friend or are able to harken back to being told a story as a kid (if they were lucky enough to have such). So, although I stand for good grammar (although seldom use it), I do agree with Chris' standpoint on the... 'Meta' of it all.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the matter.

"The guard handed her over to a robed man--Aya assumed he was a librarian--before he promptly exited the building."

Fixed! ;-)

Feels like "Who" to me.

Yeah, SovereignofAshes has it right. I'm not saying that this is the best way to word it or that any readers actually care if it's "who" or "whom". This is purely for my own personal interest.


So it still counts as an object if the verb is intransitive? The way I've always thought about it is that if it's "whom", you can reword the sentence with "him", but Aya can't "assume him".

Chris, this is why we love you.

That said, i agree with the others that the whole sentence is clunky and needs to be rebuilt.