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WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
who /hu/USA pronunciation
pron., possessivewhose, objectivewhom. WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
- (used to introduce a question, as the subject or, in informal conversational use, the object of a verb) what person or persons:Who is he? Who is at the door?
- (used in questions to ask about the character or importance of someone):Who does she think she is?
- the person or persons that:Do you know who called?
- (used in relative clauses to refer to a person):The woman who called this morning is here.
- what person or persons?:Who did it?
- (of a person) of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.:Who does she think she is?
- the person that or any person that (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent):It was who you thought.
- (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent, the antecedent being a person or sometimes an animal or personified thing):Any kid who wants to can learn to swim.
- [Archaic.]the person or persons who.
- as who should say, [Archaic.]in a manner of speaking;
so to say.
- bef. 900; Middle English; Old English hwā; cognate with Old High German hwer, Gothic hwas, Latin quis
The typical usage guide statement about the choice between who and whom says that the choice must be determined by the grammar of the clause within which this pronoun occurs. Who is the appropriate form for the subject of a sentence or clause:Who are you? The voters who elected him have not been disappointed.Whom is the objective form:Whom did you ask? To whom are we obliged for this assistance?This method of selecting the appropriate form is generally characteristic of formal writing and is usually followed in edited prose.In most speech and writing, however, since who or whom often occurs at the beginning of the sentence or clause, there is a strong tendency to choose who no matter what its function. Even in edited prose, who occurs at least ten times as often as whom, regardless of grammatical function. Only when it directly follows a preposition is whom more likely to occur than who:Mr. Erickson is the man to whom you should address your request.In natural informal speech, whom is quite rare. Who were you speaking to? is far more likely to occur than the "correct'' To whom were you speaking? or Whom were you speaking to? However, the notion that whom is somehow more "correct'' or elegant than who leads some speakers to hypercorrect uses of whom:Whom are you? The person whom is in charge has left the office.See also than.
See World Health Organization.
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
who /huː/ pron
Etymology: Old English hwā; related to Old Saxon hwē, Old High German hwer, Gothic hvas, Lithuanian kàs, Danish hvoUSAGE
- which person? what person? used in direct and indirect questions: he can't remember who did it, who met you?
- used to introduce relative clauses with antecedents referring to human beings: the people who lived here have left
- the one or ones who; whoever: bring who you want
WHO abbreviation for
- World Health Organization
'who or whom' also found in these entries: