[LMB] to wit to whom

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Fri Oct 14 11:50:07 BST 2016

Lois: So now I have convincing-sounding votes both ways, sigh.

I admit, the above would be more useful to me if I could remember what a
direct object was, last encountered in school 53 years ago; and I know I
never learned what a nominative case is, ever.

John: So, keeping it simple ...

A direct object is what the main verb operates on. I hit him -- him is the
direct object. I drank the tea -- the tea is the direct object.

The nominative case is that of the subject of the verb. In English it
affects only pronouns. I - me - mine ; he - him - his : in each sequence
the first is nominative, the second accusative (object case), the third
genitive (possessive case).

Lois: It probably doesn't help that it's a sentence fragment in 3rd-person
past-tense stream-of-consciousness.  Perhaps I shall just blame it on Miles.

John: Always an option!

Lois: For reference, the full passage in question goes:

To think that Illyan, whom he?d
known all his life, whom he?d assumed trusted him implicitly or why
else send him on a series of such distant, independent
missions. . . . He?d been proud to be so trusted, while still a young
officer, with so little direct supervision in his covert ops.

John: The problem is that in the first clause (whom he had known), Illyan =
the pronoun 'whom', is unequivocally the object of 'known' ; but in the
second clause you can argue both that the pronoun is the object of assumed
(= whom) and the subject of trusted (= who). Net result: judgement call.

The suggestion of setting off "he had assumed" as a parenthesis would
clarify things:

"whom he'd known all his life, who (he had assumed) trusted him implicitly"
"whom he'd known all his life, who, he had assumed, trusted  him implicitly"
"whom he'd known all his life, who -- he had assumed -- trusted him

would all be good.

Lois: On another head, as a sentence fragment I see it ought to have the
ellipsis without a period, aka a three-dot ellipsis.  While we're at it.

John: Yup, and yes please.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

Bye Fellow, Christ's College, & Director of Studies in English, Hughes
Hall, Cambridge
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