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February 23, 2011

Is it “When it all burns down, whom do I want to be?” or “When it all burns down, who do I want to be?” After an embarrassingly long consultation with my grammarian husband, GrammarGirl, and Wikipedia, I’m still not sure. Expertise requested.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Kris McL. permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:22 am

    Okay, so I am no expert but if you were to switch the phrasing around to read “Who/Whom do I want to be when it all burns down?” I think you have to go with ‘Who.’ I think its pretty great song lyric so if you decide to ever go that route you could use this line as a jump-off point! (Is it already a lyric? – I dont want to encourage you to plagarize someone – heh – I am overthinking this…)

  2. Melissa Hawley permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:52 am

    I vote for “who.” You would say “I want to be “she” not I want to be “her.” “It is I.”

  3. Chris S permalink
    February 23, 2011 10:00 am

    Who sounds better but that’s tricky because the word whom is disappearing, particularly in speech. I think technically it should be considered an object in this case as in “I should be whom?” but I don’t think using who should be considered wrong. Grammar rules are slipping faster than ever in the age of instant messaging. I slip in and out of them myself… just my 2 cents 🙂

  4. Steve W permalink
    February 23, 2011 11:14 am

    I got caught up with it being the object of “want” (so should be whom) vs. the object of “to be” (so should be who). Ultimately I went with “to be” so said it should be “who.” Apparently I was not particularly confident in my response since the author felt the need to ask the soiled masses.

    As Chris says, whom is silly anyway. Can we just get rid of it?

    • Chris S permalink
      February 23, 2011 11:44 am

      I had fun trying to figure this out this morning but ultimately I think this is the best advice I found:

      Rule #3: Give it a sincere and honest effort to determine if it’s “who” or “whom.” If it takes more than a 30 seconds to figure it out, pick the one that sounds best to the ear (read it aloud) and move on. Why? Because even grammarians are likely to squabble over which to use.

    • Kris McL. permalink
      February 23, 2011 1:14 pm

      I admit to being one of the ‘masses’ but I am not soiled. However, I am spoiled. 🙂

  5. February 23, 2011 2:56 pm

    Chris, I like Rule #3. Thus, I’m going with “who” — I’ve never been a fan of that uppity “whom,” anyway (although I do love the even more pretentious “whilst”). Thanks for weighing in, all. It is so nice to have smart friends whom care about grammar.

    • Melissa Hawley permalink
      February 23, 2011 3:01 pm

      that would be “who” care about grammar 😉

      • February 23, 2011 3:05 pm

        yes, that was the joke, silly :).

      • Melissa Hawley permalink
        February 23, 2011 4:14 pm

        I couldn’t help myself.

  6. Ruth permalink
    February 23, 2011 3:58 pm

    It’s who. Nominative case of the pronoun. 🙂

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