Meaning of WHO in English

/hooh/ , pron.; possessive whose; objective whom .

1. what person or persons?: Who did it?

2. (of a person) of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.: Who does she think she is?

3. the person that or any person that (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent): It was who you thought.

4. (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent, the antecedent being a person or sometimes an animal or personified thing): Any kid who wants to can learn to swim.

5. Archaic. the person or persons who.

6. as who should say , Archaic. in a manner of speaking; so to say.

[ bef. 900; ME; OE hwa; c. OHG hwer, Goth hwas, L quis ]

Usage . The typical usage guide statement about the choice between WHO and WHOM says that the choice must be determined by the grammar of the clause within which this pronoun occurs. WHO is the appropriate form for the subject of a sentence or clause: Who are you? The voters who elected him have not been disappointed. WHOM is the objective form: Whom did you ask? To whom are we obliged for this assistance? This method of selecting the appropriate form is generally characteristic of formal writing and is usually followed in edited prose.

In most speech and writing, however, since WHO or WHOM often occurs at the beginning of the sentence or clause, there is a strong tendency to choose WHO no matter what its function. Even in edited prose, WHO occurs at least ten times as often as WHOM, regardless of grammatical function. Only when it directly follows a preposition is WHOM more likely to occur than WHO: Mr. Erickson is the man to whom you should address your request.

In natural informal speech, WHOM is quite rare. Who were you speaking to? is far more likely to occur than the "correct" To whom were you speaking? or Whom were you speaking to? However, the notion that WHOM is somehow more "correct" or elegant than WHO leads some speakers to hypercorrect uses of WHOM: Whom are you? The person whom is in charge has left the office. See also than .

Random House Webster's Unabridged English dictionary.      Полный английский словарь Вебстер - Random House .