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.”

It should be who, not whom. But I’m not a grammarian and can’t explain why. I just intuitively know.

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)

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.

“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.

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.

“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.

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.


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.)

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.

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).

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.

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.

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! People are people, not things. This was drilled into my brain by my 12th grade English teacher, Miss Morris.

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.

This is correct.

“I wish to thank them” —> “whom I wish to thank.”

It’s the object of the subordinate clause, so “whom” is correct.

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.

You can refer Miss Morris to post #12, (and someone should have taken that drill away from her).

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”.