If you are die-hard grammarian who enjoys annoying people with grammar rules, this one’s for you:

Via WSJ.

When Twitter users open their home pages, they are greeted by an inset box at the top of the screen in which three words appear in gray type: “Who to follow.”

Correct grammar? Certainly not.

Plenty of Twitter users, including members of the blue-checkmarked elite, have complained about that oversight. “The ‘whoms’ put up a good fight, but we ultimately opted for a more natural cadence and the ‘whos’ won out,” says Twitter spokeswoman Brielle Villablanca….

As for when “whom” is appropriate: It is the correct choice if the word is the object of a preposition or a verb, such as in Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The choice should be “who” if the word serves as the subject of a sentence or clause.

Ben Yagoda cares about such matters, as the author of several books on language and a professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware. Still, he doesn’t insist on 100% whom-compliance either. For Twitter, he says, “It would be worse to say ‘whom to follow.’ It’s so stilted. I mean, here you are on social media with all these exclamation points and whatever.”

Think about it: Would anyone listen to a band called “The Whom”? And for that matter, would the signature phrases of “Ghostbusters” and a certain Bo Diddley song have worked if they read “Whom ya gonna call?” and “Whom Do You Love?”….

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16 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. TAM0cantor says:

    The sloppy grammar and misspellings not only on social media but on news sites and quality podcasts/TV programs drive me batty. The most common ones I see and hear are: “I should have went to the ….” (should have gone) ; “Today is a historic day.” (Today is an historic day.); lose and loose used interchangeably.

    • NeverSurrender says:

      Sorry to have to point this out but the correct usage is “a historic day.” The H is pronounced and so it is “a.” See the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook.

      • TAM0cantor says:

        Well this is interesting! I will have to blame the nuns on teaching us to us “an” but it does flow better to my ear. Mea culpa, mea culpa! Here is an interesting link http://grammarist.com/usage/an-historic/#comments
        Apparently it’s an older form and used more in British English than American English. One comment is, ” ‘an historical occasion’, for example, is used in order to make the sentence more fluid preventing the “hard stop” that British English speakers are faced with when using “a” (as in the short sound of ah) before word like horrific, the other option being the heinous use of the “Eh” sound of capital “A” that was expressly forbidden. Obviously the “English ear” was the guide as “an horror” does not sound right at all whilst “an horrific experience” can be spoken fluidly. If you search old newspapers (I looked in Australian papers dated from 1870 to 1910), the use of “an historic” compared to “a historic” is marginally more popular in that period.”

        • NeverSurrender says:

          I was also taught by nuns and remember “an historic” – but they were still the best at teaching grammar and spelling. And rules do change with language.

          I just thought you’d like one less thing in this crazy world that drives you batty. : )

  2. TAM0cantor says:

    … and it used to be, ” I graduated from high school, college, etc.” and now it’s “I graduated high school, college, etc.” When did that change?

  3. VelvetHammer says:

    “Her and I” and “on accident” are MAJOR pet peeves. I hear it all the time. Grrr. It’s obvious that diagramming sentences and learning the 8 parts of speech and their role in a sentence is no longer part of the ciriculum

    • TAM0cantor says:

      Yes, “on accident” GRRRR! Then there is ending s sentence with a preposition, “Where are you at?” Reminds me of the joke where a young woman from the South is at her first big New York City cocktail party and she approaches a small group of party guests to chat. “Where are y’all from?” she asks. A snooty women in the group looks her up and down and replies, “We are from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions.” The Southern girl smiles and says, “Oh, ok, where are y’all from, bi***?”

      • VelvetHammer says:

        Oh boy, I’m in trouble now TAMOcantor….can we add “Are you coming with?” To the list? Those not from my state immediately start looking around and then ask, “with what?” Ha!!! If I ever end my sentences with a preposition while in TamChat, please don’t think less of me. I must admit I’m guilty of all those while talking but not in writing because I grew up in a county that is notorious for its German syntax and our verbal sentences are all mixed up. Fargo is nothing compared to where I came from!

  4. Mickey says:

    If the answer is he, use who.
    If the answer is him, use whom.



  5. Maynard says:

    I appreciate colloquial speech in the proper context. As with all other political nonsense, I just want to keep it in its box. The locker room antics have their place, but they shouldn’t invade the dignity (?) of the White House. In the parlance of our benighted era, “Coexist”.

    I likewise appreciate the ubiquitous and ironic recurrence on the social media of: “Your a moron.”

  6. Shifra says:

    Among my many grammar pet peeves: Saying “They gave it to Mike and I.” You would never say, “They gave it to I.” It’s “to Mike and *me*”

    And, whenever I get a bag of Starbucks, I am asked if I want the beans “grounded.” I always want to respond, “”Well, I do prefer if the beans are centered and well-analyzed.” But alas, it would go over their heads…

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