English grammar query: "whom" is incorrect in this context?

Here’s the sentence: “Authentication is the process of ensuring that an entity requesting system access is what or whom it claims to be”.

I think it should be “…what or *who *it claims to be”.


I think it is who because he/she is authenticating, not being authenticated. But I hate this part of English grammar and may be wrong.

Yeah, that’s how I read it… the person remains the subject as they are “doing” the claiming rather than having something done to them.

Both the ultra-traditionalists and the modernists would go for “who”; those in between would go for “whom”.

The ultra-traditionalists would say that you use the nominative case after the verb “to be”, e.g., “It is I” rather than “It is me.” As “who” is nominative case, they’d use it in this context.

The modernists would never use “whom”, and would say something like, “Never seek to know for who the bell tolls: it tolls for you.”

Those in between would say “It is me”, and would use "whom as the objective case, so they’d use “whom” in the OP’s sentence.

I’m a modernist.


First Base

Who’s on first?

If you can reword what you’re trying to say and sub in “he” , then “who” is the correct choice. If you reword it and “him” is correct, then you want “whom”.

In this case, the entity requesting access is what he claims to be; chose “who”.