Whom的用法过时了吗?

很多同学上学的时候应该都学过whom的用法。在定语从句中,who和whom都用来指人,其中who为主格,作为主语,而whom为宾格,作为宾语。比如:


(1) This is the gentleman. 


(2) I mentioned the gentleman a moment ago.


使用定语从句可以写成:This is the gentleman whom I mentioned a moment ago.其中whom指代前面的the gentleman,在句子中充当I mentioned的宾语。


Whom还经常出现在to/for/with whom这样的结构中,比如:


(1) Students for whom English is a second language should consider taking the course.


(2) The person to whom we spoke was very helpful. 


但在实际英语使用中,whom的用法正在被边缘化,很多人倾向于用who来代替whom。《美国传统词典》对whom的用法有这样的说明:


Despite the traditional grammatical distinctions outlined above, in practice whom is uncommon in speech and everyday writing because it has a formal tone. In informal contexts, who often replaces whom, as in Who does the actor support? or I despise the governor who the actor supports.


即在日常写作和口语中whom变得越来越少见,因为它显得过于正式,人们会在非正式场合用who来代替whom,比如用"Who does the actor support?" 来代替"Whom does the actor support? "


维基百科在whom的词条中也提到了目前whom使用下降的趋势。实际上早在1989年《牛津英语大辞典》(OED)就指出whom在日常口语中已经不再流行("whom" is no longer current in natural colloquial speech)。


Whom的用法过时了吗?


不少外媒报道中也可以看到用who代替whom的例子,比如下面的句子:


He said there was a system to being called out and often people thought that when they called for an ambulance, the person who they spoke to over the phone would be the paramedic who would treat them, which was “never the case”.


上面句子使用"the person who they spoke to over the phone"来代替传统的用法"the person whom they spoke to over the phone"


不过并非所有的场合都能用who来代替whom,比如"one of whom, none of whom, some of whom"已经是固定说法,不能改动。我们应该说:There are over 6,000 students, many of whom come from overseas. 而不能说:There are over 6,000 students, many of who come from overseas


对于to/for/with whom这样的结构,whom同样也不能用who来代替,不过这样的结构通常可以改写。举个例子,The person to whom we spoke was very helpful. 可以改写为:The person who/that we spoke to was very helpful. 或者更进一步省略who/that,写成:The person we spoke to was very helpful.


Whom的用法过时了吗?


此外,传统语法认为who在定语从句里面只能用来指人,但在实际使用中也可以用来指动物,特别是对人类有重要情感价值的动物。比如BBC有一篇新闻标题是:The dog who just saved her Swansea family's Christmas


Whom的用法过时了吗?


新闻讲述了这样一个故事:有一户人家的圣诞树突然着火,但家里一只名为Bella的小狗叫醒了全家,避免了伤亡。在这里用who来指代小狗是非常恰当的。


需要说明的一点是,上面关于whom和who的讨论反映的是单词的实际使用情况,但在考试中还是要按照传统语法规则来用,以免被扣分。




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