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January 13, 2011

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John Mackin

This is a brilliantly simple way to solve the problem of subject/object forms of pronouns. Thank you.
I live in Japan and occasionally teach or write about avoiding mistakes in technical writing. The problem you you describe is not a major issue here for some reason. What is a major issue is mistaking restrictive clauses for non-restrictive clauses, and vice-versa. Do you have any brilliantly simple solutions to that decision?
My current solution is to tell the students to delete the clause and see whether the remaining sentence still makes sense. If it does, the clause is non-restrictive and should be be preceded by "which" and set off by commas. Otherwise it should be handled as restrictive.
However, many students in Japan, where vague statements are often acceptable/preferred, don't find operatively incomplete sentences to be wrong; e.g., "people should not throw stones" (from "people who live in glass houses ...") is operatively incomplete because there could be times when they can or should throw stones. So it MUST have some restriction. But the lack of that restriction does not bother most students. So my proposed solution fails. Any help?

Barbara Marciano

A great hint is that whenever you can substitute him, you use whom. If you would use he, you use who. Easy!

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