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Old 05-12-2019, 07:23 PM
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English Major Needed! Who or Whom Phrasing


How should this sentence read? Please correct, if needed: "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank."
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:46 PM
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It should be who, not whom. But I'm not a grammarian and can't explain why. I just intuitively know.
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
How should this sentence read? Please correct, if needed: "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank."
Perhaps a comma before "whom"? (and it should be "whom", no question)

Got to ask those English majors....


ETA I'm no grammarian either, but "whom" is a pronoun that stands for an indirect object (dative) or direct object (accusative)

Last edited by DPRK; 05-12-2019 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:53 PM
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Agree with DPRK (though IANAEM). "Whom," because it's the object of the verb "to thank."

If you had said, "I wish to thank many people who helped me," "who" would be correct.
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
How should this sentence read? Please correct, if needed: "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank."
"I had help from many people. I wish to thank them."not "I wish to thank they."
"I had help from many people; them I wish to thank."not "they I wish to thank."
"I had help from many people whom I wish to thank."not "who I wish to thank," except in spoken English, where "who" and "whom" have collapsed together.
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
Perhaps a comma before "whom"?
Yes, assuming you wish to thank all of the people who have helped. In other words, there aren't any people who helped and whom, for whatever reason, you don't want to thank, so you don't want a restrictive adjective clause here.
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:40 PM
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If in doubt, rephrase...


"I had help from many people that I wish to thank."
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by glee View Post
"I had help from many people that I wish to thank."
Bzzzzzzzz. This is one of my pet peeves. "That" in no way is acceptable here, and people do this constantly.

ETA: It's either who or whom.

Last edited by Leaffan; 05-12-2019 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:51 AM
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Rephrasing is generally a good option. Otherwise, one could apply a trick I learned eons ago in a writing workshop: ask the related "who" question, and if the answer is him/her/them, then "whom" is correct. In this instance:

Who do you wish to thank? I wish to thank them.

By this test, "whom" is correct.

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Old 05-13-2019, 12:55 AM
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Same as CairoCarol, except I use singular.

"I wish to thank her." So, use whom.

(If rephrasing works with "she" then use who. Obvs not the case here.)
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:42 AM
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Yes, CairoCarol (and others) have the correct answer.

One complication is "descriptivism": The use of 'who' where 'whom' is correct is quite common. Eventually it will become "correct" by definition English grammars and dictionaries describe how English is used, not how it should or might be used. But the substitution of 'who' for 'whom' hasn't reached that status yet.

Pro-tip: If unsure whether to use 'who' or 'whom' use 'who.' Sneer and say "I'm a descriptivist" if anyone complains. Using 'whom' where 'who' is correct makes one sound like an ostentatious imbecile.
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:02 AM
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Bzzzzzzzz. This is one of my pet peeves. "That" in no way is acceptable here, and people do this constantly.
It's acceptable if the adjective clause is restrictive, but I think we can assume that it isn't, (that is, that the OP wishes to thank all the people who helped).
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:04 AM
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Originally Posted by glee View Post
"I had help from many people that I wish to thank."
This kind of rephrasing may arrive at a "solution," but that doesn't help us to understand the original issue in question, so it's really just copping out, or evading the real point of the OP.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:49 AM
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Don't rephrase just because you don't know what's correct. Rephrase if you have created an awkward phrase that is ambiguous or that the reader will trip over.
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:02 AM
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"I had help from many people that I wish to thank."
ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! People are people, not things. This was drilled into my brain by my 12th grade English teacher, Miss Morris.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:49 AM
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One complication is "descriptivism": The use of 'who' where 'whom' is correct is quite common. Eventually it will become "correct" by definition English grammars and dictionaries describe how English is used, not how it should or might be used. But the substitution of 'who' for 'whom' hasn't reached that status yet.

Pro-tip: If unsure whether to use 'who' or 'whom' use 'who.' Sneer and say "I'm a descriptivist" if anyone complains. Using 'whom' where 'who' is correct makes one sound like an ostentatious imbecile.
I think I remember seeing this advice in a grammar book when I was in high school, back in the early 80s. It's a lot closer to okay to use "who" where "whom" is technically correct than the other way around.

But in the OP's example, I do think that "whom" is not only correct but makes the sentence clearer and easier to parse (which is always a goal of good writing). If you say "I had help from many people who..." you set me up to expect that you're going to tell me what those people did.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
How should this sentence read? Please correct, if needed: "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank."
This is correct.

I wish to thank them > whom I wish to thank.

Its the object of the subordinate clause, so whom is correct.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:56 AM
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How should this sentence read? Please correct, if needed: "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
It should be who, not whom. But I'm not a grammarian and can't explain why. I just intuitively know.
Your intuition is wrong, unless you are talking about a dialect that has eliminated “whom” entirely, which is common in contemporary English.

But if you’re talking about traditional grammar, “whom” is correct in the OP’s example.
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Last edited by Acsenray; 05-13-2019 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:35 AM
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ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! People are people, not things. This was drilled into my brain by my 12th grade English teacher, Miss Morris.
You can refer Miss Morris to post #12, (and someone should have taken that drill away from her).
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:36 AM
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It's a bit of a mess because "to thank" is, itself, serving as the object of the verb "wish" in an adjective clause modifying the object of the prepositional phrase "from many people". But I think it's "whom". For it to be "who" it needs to be the subject of a clause or a compliment of a linking verb, and it's certainly not either of those. But it does seem to function as the object of "thank".

ETA: I learned virtually no grammar as an English major. "English" is usually "Literature" and sometimes "Rhetoric".

Last edited by Manda JO; 05-13-2019 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:49 AM
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Use "who" where you would use "she" and "whom" when you would use "her." Since you woulid say "I wish to thank her," "whom" is correct.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:26 AM
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I learned virtually no grammar as an English major. . . . sometimes "Rhetoric."
As both an English major and a linguist, I find it amusing how many people are jumping in to repeat the same explanation, over and over. ("Post first, read the thread later," is our motto here.) Yes, of course it should be whom, but the only (possible) correction called for in the OP is the one suggested by DPRK, namely, the comma.

Last edited by guizot; 05-13-2019 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:22 AM
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A better rephrasing might be, "I wish to thank the many people who helped me." That reads a little more smoothly to me.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:52 PM
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You can refer Miss Morris to post #12, (and someone should have taken that drill away from her).
Were Miss Morris to read post 12, she'd probably say something like this:

Let's back up for a moment, guiznot. Who, whom, that, and which are all relative pronouns. You're correct that a relative pronoun is necessary when introducing an essential (aka restrictive) clause; however, the essential clause does not determine which relative pronoun is correct. If the essential clause refers to a person or people, who or whom is always correct.

And she'd probably refer you to The Chicago Manual of Style or The Associated Press Stylebook.

You could argue that that is becoming more widely accepted, and some style books say that is perfectly acceptable when referring to people, but Miss Morris would counter that who/whom is always the safer choice, and she'd be correct.

Miss Morris would undoubtedly applaud your choice of major and respect your expertise as a linguist, as I do. I also majored in English, and I've taught grammar at both the college and high school levels, but I would never present myself as an expert. I refer and defer to style books and editors.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:06 PM
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All I want to say is that everybody and their dog seems to say "between you and I" when the correct phrase is "between you and me." Drives me crazy.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:32 PM
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All I want to say is that everybody and their dog seems to say "between you and I" when the correct phrase is "between you and me." Drives me crazy.
I agree and if you have further questions you can address them to myself.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by nelliebly View Post
Were Miss Morris to read post 12, she'd probably say something like this:

Let's back up for a moment, guiznot. Who, whom, that, and which are all relative pronouns. You're correct that a relative pronoun is necessary when introducing an essential (aka restrictive) clause; however, the essential clause does not determine which relative pronoun is correct. If the essential clause refers to a person or people, who or whom is always correct.

And she'd probably refer you to The Chicago Manual of Style or The Associated Press Stylebook.

You could argue that that is becoming more widely accepted, and some style books say that is perfectly acceptable when referring to people, but Miss Morris would counter that who/whom is always the safer choice, and she'd be correct.

Miss Morris would undoubtedly applaud your choice of major and respect your expertise as a linguist, as I do. I also majored in English, and I've taught grammar at both the college and high school levels, but I would never present myself as an expert. I refer and defer to style books and editors.
I used to hold this view, based only on what my mother taught me, but it is so widely ignored these days, even in many reference works, that it seems another hopeless grammatical battle. I still speak and write this way except for those sad instances where I have found myself saying "that" without thinking, and then regretting it.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:58 PM
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Yep, the simple he/him test solves this one. I wish to thank him.

I had help from many people whom I wish to thank.

To rephrase in a case where "who" is appropriate you could say:
I had help from many people who deserve my thanks.
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:18 PM
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Who vs. whom is not singular vs. plural. Whom when it is the object of a preposition - to whom, from whom, with whom. OTOH it is one of those rules which is disappearing, like not ending a sentence with a preposition - the sort of thing that Winston Churchill said was nonsense up with which he would not put.

As my linguistics professor said, languages never become simpler or more logical, overall - they exchange one form of senseless complexity with another. Unfortunately, to whomever you talk and whoever hears, it will sound wrong, or right.

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PS - Media and data are both plural nouns, vagina does not refer to the whole of the female genitalia, and you are using the wrong fork.
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:37 PM
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It absolutely is "whom". It's the object of a verb.
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Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
Perhaps a comma before "whom"? (and it should be "whom", no question)
I wouldn't, as there's an annoying general tendency to infest sentences with superfluous commas. Is a pause here really indicated? No? Then lose the comma. I think it would be more distracting than useful.
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! People are people, not things. This was drilled into my brain by my 12th grade English teacher, Miss Morris.
Whom you wish to thank, no doubt!
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
A better rephrasing might be, "I wish to thank the many people who helped me." That reads a little more smoothly to me.
I would argue no, because it subtly changes the meaning. "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank" puts the primary emphasis on the fact that many people provided help and secondarily expresses gratitude for it. Your version puts the primary emphasis on providing thanks. It's not precisely the same sentiment.
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Old 05-13-2019, 04:12 PM
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The correct answer is to rephrase it for clarity. "I wish to thank the many people who helped me." That would be the answer from a professional copy editor and also the SAT/ACT correct answer.

(If your question is when is it correct to use whom vs. who, you've gotten good answers. If its 'how do I fix this sentence' the answer is rewrite it - I've known meth addicts who are less of a hot mess than that sentence.)
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:15 PM
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The correct answer is to rephrase it for clarity. "I wish to thank the many people who helped me." That would be the answer from a professional copy editor and also the SAT/ACT correct answer.

(If your question is when is it correct to use whom vs. who, you've gotten good answers. If its 'how do I fix this sentence' the answer is rewrite it - I've known meth addicts who are less of a hot mess than that sentence.)
Not to nitpick too much on this point, but as I suggested just above in the previous post, your "correct" rephrasing is neither more clear nor does it convey precisely the same meaning. And while I'm not fond of the OP's phrasing, I reject the notion that a "professional" of any description, whether a copy editor or an SAT adjudicator, can set herself up as the ultimate arbiter of "correct" versus "incorrect" English phrasing that follows the rules of grammar.

That said, I'm well aware that it's very common to begin acknowledgements with a sentence like "I want to thank ...". I looked at one of Steven Pinker's books to see how he does it, because I'm a great admirer of his writing style, if not always of his opinions and theories. It was no help at all, because apparently Steven doesn't feel he needs to acknowledge anyone's help, at least in the couple of books I looked at. Which leads me to my more general point.

As I said, the "I want to thank ..." type of acknowledgement is very common, but there is a different and more humble and inclusive kind of acknowledgement that suggests that the work was a collaborative effort, that it would not have been possible but for the help and contributions of certain people. One can state this outright or strongly imply it, as James Comey does in A Higher Loyalty when he begins his acknowledgements with "Because a group of people cared enough to tell me the truth ...", or one can make that subtle distinction by putting that fact first, as the OP does. Between Pinker's lack of acknowledgment at all and this acknowledgement of important collaboration, the "I want to thank ..." format stands in the middle. In my view, your "correct" reinterpretation subtly changes its position on this spectrum. I, too, would probably rephrase the OP's version, but I would need to know more about the circumstances and exact meaning intended, and I'd probably rework it entirely with a view to preserving that meaning as closely as possible.
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:23 PM
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I wouldn't, as there's an annoying general tendency to infest sentences with superfluous commas. Is a pause here really indicated? No? Then lose the comma. I think it would be more distracting than useful.
The idea that a comma is merely a typographical way of indicating a pause is another of those frequently taught oversimplifications. Commas help divide up the phrases and clauses in a sentence, something that pauses do in oral speech, but there's not a one-to-one correspondene between where you pause in speech and where you put a comma in writing.

I agree with guizot:

"I had help from many people whom I wish to thank" = "I had help from {many people whom I wish to thank}" = {people you wish to thank} are your helpers.
"I had help from many people, whom I wish to thank" = you wish to thank the people that helped you.
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:29 PM
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"I wish to thank the following people: First Person, Second Person," etc.

"Many" is unnecessary here.
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:53 PM
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"I wish to thank the following people: First Person, Second Person," etc.

"Many" is unnecessary here.
Absolutely not. I once attended a banquet where someone attempted to do that, only to discover that its much easier to know where to begin thanking people than where to draw the line to cut off the list.

Reading these threads, I have realized that some of my grammar instincts are incorrect. While I know better than the say Me and Bob went to the store. I have tended to change me to I in She gave it to Bob and me.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:57 PM
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The idea that a comma is merely a typographical way of indicating a pause is another of those frequently taught oversimplifications. Commas help divide up the phrases and clauses in a sentence, something that pauses do in oral speech, but there's not a one-to-one correspondene between where you pause in speech and where you put a comma in writing.

I agree with guizot:

"I had help from many people whom I wish to thank" = "I had help from {many people whom I wish to thank}" = {people you wish to thank} are your helpers.
"I had help from many people, whom I wish to thank" = you wish to thank the people that helped you.
Bullshit. A brief pause in oral speech is exactly equivalent to the separation of ideas denoted by a comma in writing. This is not "oversimplification", it's conceptually accurate. I was actually going to add a further comment in my response to DPRK in post #30 which might be consistent with your comment to guizot above, although I don't really understand what you're saying there. Seems to me that "{people you wish to thank} are your helpers" and "you wish to thank the people that helped you" are substantially the same thing. My observation about the comma was going to be along the lines of my response to LHoD in post #30 and further elaborated in my post #32, which might be the same thing you're trying to say. Namely the following:

"I had help from many people whom I wish to thank" is IMO a stronger acknowledgment of collaborative help than "I wish to thank the many people who helped me."

"I had help from many people, whom I wish to thank" is stronger still, and the comma is in fact appropriate if, and only if, that stronger emphasis is intended. The perceptual process here says "I had help from many people"; comma pause; let that sink in -- many people helped me to achieve this; and now I want to thank them.

An even stronger form would be saying something like: "This work would not have been possible without the help of many people. I want to thank them for their contributions ..."

These are all different nuances of meaning, and the last one is clearly very different from "I wish to thank the many people who helped me", which illustrates the different nuances along this continuum. The weakest form might be thanking the guy who helped carry your luggage up the stairs. The strongest form suggests people who contributed central ideas to the project.

Of course these perceived nuances may vary by context and culture. I can't claim that they are universal. They're certainly true in my experience and perception.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:55 AM
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Bullshit. A brief pause in oral speech is exactly equivalent to the separation of ideas denoted by a comma in writing. This is not "oversimplification", it's conceptually accurate. I was actually going to add a further comment in my response to DPRK in post #30 which might be consistent with your comment to guizot above, although I don't really understand what you're saying there. Seems to me that "{people you wish to thank} are your helpers" and "you wish to thank the people that helped you" are substantially the same thing. My observation about the comma was going to be along the lines of my response to LHoD in post #30 and further elaborated in my post #32, which might be the same thing you're trying to say. Namely the following:

"I had help from many people whom I wish to thank" is IMO a stronger acknowledgment of collaborative help than "I wish to thank the many people who helped me."

"I had help from many people, whom I wish to thank" is stronger still, and the comma is in fact appropriate if, and only if, that stronger emphasis is intended. The perceptual process here says "I had help from many people"; comma pause; let that sink in -- many people helped me to achieve this; and now I want to thank them.
I'm sorry, but this is wrong. A comma in a written text is not primarily a visual symbol for a pause (It might be so in a script for speech, for example). It might coincidentally be so, but that's not what its function is. Its presence or absence does not indicate a "stronger acknowledgement" in the above sentences.

The comma here defines whether the subordinate clause is restrictive or non-restrictive. In this particular example, however, there is no practical difference between the restrictive and non-restrictive meanings.
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Last edited by Acsenray; 05-14-2019 at 06:56 AM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:39 AM
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I'm sorry, but this is wrong. A comma in a written text is not primarily a visual symbol for a pause (It might be so in a script for speech, for example). It might coincidentally be so, but that's not what its function is. Its presence or absence does not indicate a "stronger acknowledgement" in the above sentences.

The comma here defines whether the subordinate clause is restrictive or non-restrictive. In this particular example, however, there is no practical difference between the restrictive and non-restrictive meanings.
I disagree, and I particularly object to a characterization like "wrong". Let's look at what I said: "A brief pause in oral speech is exactly equivalent to the separation of ideas denoted by a comma in writing."

And here are the guidelines on the use of the comma
from the Oxford Dictionaries. It begins with the general principle: "A comma marks a slight break between different parts of a sentence. Used properly, commas make the meaning of sentences clear by grouping and separating words, phrases, and clauses".

It says virtually the same thing. So much for being "wrong".

Your statement about the role of the comma in restrictive versus non-restrictive clauses is correct, but it's just one of many specific examples that bears out that same general principle. Further down they give examples. A restrictive clause might be something like "passengers who have young children may board the aircraft first". An example of a non-restrictive clause would be "Mary, who has two young children, has a part-time job in the library".

Notice that in oral speech, the non-restrictive example would be spoken with a slight pause before the italicized subordinate clause and right after it. The comma here serves the same purpose in written text. It delineates a separate idea, one which is incidental to the meaning of the sentence. One could almost imagine that thought in parentheses. The sentence is intended to convey the fact that Mary has a part-time job in the library. Incidentally, she has two young children, but that's merely a passing observation.

Furthermore, consider the implications of restrictive versus non-restrictive interpretations of "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank". The absence of a comma implies the restrictive interpretation; that is, the sentence expresses the fact that I want to thank those people who helped me. Now it consider it with the comma. It suddenly acquires the form of a non-restrictive clause. The fact that I wish to thank these people becomes relatively incidental; as with any non-restrictive clause, it can be dispensed with while still retaining the principal meaning of the sentence. And that meaning now resides entirely in the first part. The principal fact I'm announcing is that I had help from many people. It's the difference in emphasis I was describing, and it's supported by the rules of usage. Again, I think both forms are rather clumsy and I wouldn't use either of them, but the principle remains.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:26 AM
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Oh the whomanity!
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:43 AM
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It should be who, not whom. But I'm not a grammarian and can't explain why. I just intuitively know.
"Who" is the subject form and "whom" is the object form.

...... "whom I wish to thank" is actually, "I wish to thank whom", so it is the object form that is needed.

If you had an intransitive (non-action) verb, you would use "who". For example, "who's who in America" is correct because it in essence means "who is who".
  #41  
Old 05-15-2019, 05:14 PM
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My rule of thumb: If I can convert the phrase to something like "I wish to thank him, then whom is correct. Both end in M!

This is wrong on so many levels, but I still use it. ;-D
  #42  
Old 05-15-2019, 07:48 PM
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I disagree, and I particularly object to a characterization like "wrong". Let's look at what I said: "A brief pause in oral speech is exactly equivalent to the separation of ideas denoted by a comma in writing."

And here are the guidelines on the use of the comma
from the Oxford Dictionaries. It begins with the general principle: "A comma marks a slight break between different parts of a sentence. Used properly, commas make the meaning of sentences clear by grouping and separating words, phrases, and clauses".

It says virtually the same thing. So much for being "wrong".
It seems that your cite undermines your argument. The cite talks strictly about written English in terms of grammatical structure. It does not mention spoken English at all, nor draw a parallel between a comma and a pause in speech.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:58 AM
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It seems that your cite undermines your argument. The cite talks strictly about written English in terms of grammatical structure. It does not mention spoken English at all, nor draw a parallel between a comma and a pause in speech.
Then I guess we differ greatly on what the term "slight break" means, or how that influences speech.

Take one of the examples cited: "Mary, who has two young children, has a part-time job in the library". If you speak that aloud, would there be a slight pause after "Mary" (and after "children"), or would you say the first part exactly the same way as if you were talking about someone named "Mary Who"?

We can look to advanced text-to-speech systems to see that there not only is "a parallel" between a comma and a slight pause in speech, but in fact a very explicitly defined one. To produce the most natural speech, Amazon Polly implements four types of pauses in speech, characterized by strength (duration): none, the pause after a comma, the pause after a sentence, and the pause after a paragraph. The strength of a pause is normally inferred from punctuation, or it can be specified with SSML tags. The developer's guide states: "If you don't specify an attribute to determine the pause length, Amazon Polly uses the default, which is <break strength="medium">, which adds a pause the length of a pause after a comma.

These are just the normal principles of everyday speech, which most of us do completely subconsciously.
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by glee View Post
"I had help from many people that I wish to thank."
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Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
Bzzzzzzzz. This is one of my pet peeves. "That" in no way is acceptable here, and people do this constantly.
Yeah, it should be I had help from many people which I wish to thank.

(j/k; whom is correct. Actually, if a rewrite would make you more comfortable, try I had help from many people, and I would like to take a moment to thank them now.)
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:14 AM
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Yes, CairoCarol (and others) have the correct answer.

One complication is "descriptivism": The use of 'who' where 'whom' is correct is quite common. Eventually it will become "correct" by definition — English grammars and dictionaries describe how English is used, not how it should or might be used.
o_o

>_<

o_0

Oh.

Which grammars and dictionaries describe how it should be used? ‘Cos I vote for those ones.

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 05-16-2019 at 01:15 AM.
  #46  
Old 05-16-2019, 01:36 AM
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Were Miss Morris to read post 12, she'd probably say something like this . . . If the essential clause refers to a person or people, who or whom is always correct. . . .You could argue that that is becoming more widely accepted, and some style books say that is perfectly acceptable when referring to people, but Miss Morris would counter that who/whom is always the safer choice, and she'd be correct.
This is only because some high school English teachers like to clutch onto simplistic (over generalized) rules, as they're so much easier to teach than actual rhetoric, which is extremely hard to teach, but which is what the students really need. Fine--she can feel "safer" using who and whom, but that doesn't mean that is "absolutely not" correct, and it's a waste of time to go on about it.

It has nothing to do with "becoming widely accepted." Using that to refer to a person as a relative pronoun in a restrictive adjective clauses is a normal, accepted grammatical usage that goes back to the time of Shakespeare, at least:
"A young man married is a man that's marred."
(All's Well that Ends Well.)
A man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal, and do well.
Francis Bacon, Of Revenge in The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral
(Perhaps Miss Morris would like to spend all the class time "correcting" Shakespeare's relative pronouns, instead of doing something useful for the students, like actually teaching writing.)

There are other examples I could cite, but--except inside Miss Morris' head--this is a pointless issue and it isn't worth the effort.
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:34 AM
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These are just the normal principles of everyday speech, which most of us do completely subconsciously.
There are some uses of the comma which correspond to common prosody, but others do not, and are more like abstract grammatical markers that don't necessarily indicate speech patterns. It really depends on which usage we're talking about. There may be fewer of the later than the former, but off the top of my head I can think of sentence initial prepositional (time) phrases, or dependent clauses that begin a sentence:
In 1941, the U.S. entered WWII.
If I knew what I wanted, I wouldn't be here.
Either of these may or may not be spoken with a pause at the points where prescriptive mechanics requires a comma in writing. In ordinary speech they probably more often don't have pauses.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:16 AM
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There are some uses of the comma which correspond to common prosody, but others do not, and are more like abstract grammatical markers that don't necessarily indicate speech patterns. It really depends on which usage we're talking about. There may be fewer of the later than the former, but off the top of my head I can think of sentence initial prepositional (time) phrases, or dependent clauses that begin a sentence:
In 1941, the U.S. entered WWII.
If I knew what I wanted, I wouldn't be here.
Either of these may or may not be spoken with a pause at the points where prescriptive mechanics requires a comma in writing. In ordinary speech they probably more often don't have pauses.
Here we're getting into a controversial and subjective area in which I'm on the side that says "fewer of the latter than the former" means very few of the latter indeed. I'm sure that it's possible to come up with a rare case where a comma is necessary for readability and doesn't reflect the prosody of the spoken language, but that would be a rare exception. I'm not denying that such exceptions exist, but "here is a case where what you claim isn't true" doesn't disprove the fact that what I said is generally and broadly true. And I dispute that you're provided such examples.

In your "In 1941 ..." example, I can practically hear in my head Walter Cronkite's famous voice intoning that sentence, with a distinct and dramatic pause after the introductory clause. In common speech the pause might be weaker, but in common speech we also tend to be careless, and tend to slur our words, too. Some might say it with no pause at all, but then again, some might write it without the comma, which here is largely a matter of style.

Same deal with "If I knew what I wanted ...". It can be said with or without a weak pause, and likewise can be written with or without a comma. I would prefer to see consistency between the written form and its spoken intonation, but then, I'm a stickler for saying just what's on the page, even if I'm saying it in my head. I suppose, that's why I find superfluous or misplaced commas, so jarring.

Amazon Polly is one of the most advanced text to speech systems in the world and uses deep learning to create the most natural possible speech. The experts who built it defined pauses of different strengths after commas, sentences, and paragraphs. I presume they knew what they were doing.
  #49  
Old 05-16-2019, 07:39 AM
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I went to the store and bought a pear.

Vs

I went to the store, and I bought a pear.

Do you say those sentences differently? One requires a comma by most style guides. The other one does not (and adding a comma to that one, even if there is a slight pause in speech, is generally regarded as incorrect.) Either sentence can be said with a pause or without one, but there’s only one way most style guides require you to use the comma. Those examples are ones where I find “following your ear” to be particularly problematic in determining comma usage, and those are very common structures.

Last edited by pulykamell; 05-16-2019 at 07:39 AM.
  #50  
Old 05-16-2019, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
How should this sentence read? Please correct, if needed: "I had help from many people whom I wish to thank."
This is a common mistaken usage of "whom" when "who" is correct.


"I had help from many people who I wish to thank" or rephrase it "I had help from many people who I'd like to thank"

In this case, "that" would be incorrect as you are referring to people not an object.

Last edited by Sparky812; 05-16-2019 at 08:10 AM.
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