Jerry noticed there were two men following him whom he did not recognise.

To my ear who seems more natural in the above sentence, but because Jerry is the subject and the men are the object I assume whom is correct. 

Thanks in advance.

Original Post
Dijahtil posted:

Jerry noticed there were two men following him whom he did not recognise.

To my ear who seems more natural in the above sentence, but because Jerry is the subject and the men are the object I assume whom is correct. 

Thanks in advance.

Hello, Dijahtil, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

It does not surprise me that "who" seems more natural to you in that type of context, because most native speakers would use "who" instead of "whom" there, especially in live conversation.

Nevertheless, if we are forced to choose between "who" and "whom" there on a grammatical basis, not on the basis of what we are likely to hear people say or what sounds nice to us, "whom" is the correct choice, and "who" is incorrect.

This is because, as you indicate, the relative pronoun is functioning as the direct object of "recognize" within the relative clause ("whom he did not recognize") and therefore needs to be in objective case: "He did not recognize them/*they."

That said, there is an easy work-around if you want to avoid using "whom." A relative pronoun may be omitted from a relative clause if the clause is restrictive and not extraposed and the relative pronoun functions as object:

(1) Jerry noticed there were two men following him whom he did not recognize.

(2) Jerry noticed there were two men whom he did not recognize who were following him.

(3) Jerry noticed there were two men he did not recognize who were following him.

(4) Jerry noticed there were two men he did not recognize following him.

So just to clarify: In the following sentence, the relative pronoun is functioning as the direct object of what word or phrase?

While she was there, the sorceress met a serpent whom had hidden a magic egg in a cave.

When I ask the question: who hid the magic egg? He/she/it hid the magic egg, which would indicate that who is the correct pronoun to use. But because the sorceress is the subject and the serpent is the object of the sentence I assume that whom is right. Sorry, a bit confused here.

Dijahtil posted:

So just to clarify: In the following sentence, the relative pronoun is functioning as the direct object of what word or phrase?

While she was there, the sorceress met a serpent whom had hidden a magic egg in a cave.

In that sentence, "whom" is incorrect, because the relative pronoun is functioning as the subject within its clause and should therefore be "who," NOT "whom": ". . . the sorceress met a serpent who had hidden a magic egg in a cave."

Dijahtil posted:
When I ask the question: who hid the magic egg? He/she/it hid the magic egg, which would indicate that who is the correct pronoun to use. But because the sorceress is the subject and the serpent is the object of the sentence I assume that whom is right. Sorry, a bit confused here.

In deciding whether to use "who" or "whom," only pay attention to the relative clause. Here the relative clause is "who had hidden a magic egg in a cave." The fact that the antecedent of "who" (what "who" refers to) is a noun that functions as object (namely "a serpent," the direct object of "met") is totally irrelevant.

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