Please reopen this question now that I've given the anti-whom camp a name: descriptivist grammarians. Whatever that means. (Somewhere in the chain of anti-whom comments I saw that John Lawler wrote, "You want well-reasoned, learn syntax first. The actual rule is that whom is required only when it is the object of a pied-piped preposition. See Ross 1967 for details on pied-piping." I thought, Well, let's take a look and see what the heck pied-piping is. But John's link turned out to be a 24 meg pdf that wasn't even searchable. That dedicated to understanding English better I am not.)

  • "Pied-piping" is about the position of words. In English, it's common for questions and relative clauses to have so-called "fronted" wh-words: the word order in a sentence like "What is he eating?" is object-auxiliary-subject-participle, even though the usual order in declarative sentences would be subject-auxiliary-participle-object (e.g. "He is eating cake"). In some cases, other words appear at the front of the sentence along with the wh-word. This is called "pied-piping"; the metaphor is that the wh-word takes other words with it like the Pied Piper of Hamelin took rats and children.
    – herisson
    Sep 9 '17 at 0:30
  • So "Who did you speak with?" does not have pied-piping of the preposition "with", but "With whom did you speak?" does. John Lawler is saying that most people, even people who typically don't use "whom" in most positions where it was traditionally prescribed, would not say "With who did you speak?"
    – herisson
    Sep 9 '17 at 0:31
  • 1
    @sumelic - Nice of you to explain it in less than 24 meg. // I'm not finding the links to smaller files below. I only see two John Lawler comments on that page. What am I missing? Sep 9 '17 at 0:36
  • Dude... isn't the first inclination these days to at least google or wikipedia first?
    – Mitch
    Sep 9 '17 at 15:38
  • @Mitch - I did. (Because it was my first inclination.) I did not understand what I found. As I have already acknowledged on SE, I'm stupid. Sep 9 '17 at 17:30
  • @sumelic - Sorry, I'm still not following you. Sep 9 '17 at 17:34
  • @sumelic - Oh, the Ross page ("Ross's dissertation download page"). I'm sure the small files would be perfectly downloadable -- as was the large one. (I think he made the comment about the 24 meg file choking people's networks a long time ago.) But I had no way of knowing which of the smaller files to choose. That page was rather overwhelming. Sep 9 '17 at 19:15
  • Oh, I see! Oops, I misread what you said the question
    – herisson
    Sep 9 '17 at 19:17

You have asked two questions.

Question 1: For those who are in the "whom is almost never truly necessary" camp: when you hear or read something in an old-fashioned but strictly speaking correct way, does it bother you?

Surely the answer to this one is obvious: if they are in that camp they are in it for a reason; it does bother them. However, even if that's not the case, it's a purely binary situation, either Yes it does or No it doesn't. There is little value in this question other than gaining statistics.

Question 2: If so (i.e. if it bothers you), why does it bother you? Why wouldn't a tomato-tomahto acknowledgment of personal preference work for you in the who/whom wars?

This question invites a purely personal response. That means that every answer could be different and still entirely valid. You have given five possible reasons for objecting to whom, and invite more.

Your question is purely soliciting opinion. It's a questionnaire.

Another user has assisted by adding an attempt to gain answers which might be objective with the very last sentence,:

among those for whom whom is an archaic part of the English language that is better left in history, what's so bad about the word in today's English?

...and that might be answerable if there is published research on the reasons that it's "better left in history", but it is more likely to garner individual responses starting with "I think..." Not only that, but he has introduced the mention of research without actually providing any (or even links to it). But if there is that research, then you have your answers already.

As it stands, the question is purely inviting individual opinions. It appears to fail a number of the tests on whether it falls as "good subjective"/"bad subjective":

  1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”. The best subjective questions invite explanation.
  2. Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers. The best subjective questions inspire your peers to share their actual experiences.
  3. Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone. The best subjective questions avoid the all too seductive route of ranting and flamebait.
  4. Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions. Certainly experiences inform opinions, but the best subjective questions unabashedly and unashamedly prioritize sharing actual experiences over random opinions.
  5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references. Opinion isn’t all bad, so long as it’s backed up with something other than “because I’m an expert”, or “because I said so”, or “just because”. Use your specific experiences to back up your opinions, as above, or point to some research you’ve done on the web or elsewhere that provides evidence to support your claims.
  6. Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun. The best subjective questions avoid the social pitfalls of “Getting To Know You” (GTKY) and mindless entertainment. Sometimes people just want to poll a community for ideas that might help solve a problem (best book, best approach). These can be okay when there is actual knowledge in the collection of answers.

It should remain closed. The recent edits have not brought it into the "good subjective" category.

  • And yet, descriptively, people are voting to reopen it.
    – Mitch
    Sep 9 '17 at 12:03
  • What about the superfluous comment highway continuing to build there Sep 9 '17 at 13:58
  • @Clare Currently I'm leaving it there because it demonstrates the poor quality of the question. Other mods may feel differently (we're all individuals!) and if you want to flag comments, please go ahead.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Sep 9 '17 at 14:03

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