Webster 1913 Edition
hwā, interrogative pron., neut.
hwæt; akin to OFries.
hvat, neut., Dan.
kas, Ir. & Gael.
quod, neuter of
kas. √182. Cf.
Originally, an interrogative pronoun, later, a relative pronoun also; – used always substantively, and either as singular or plural. See the Note under“Let who will be President.”
p, 1. As interrogative pronouns, who and whom ask the question: What or which person or persons? Who and whom, as relative pronouns (in the sense of that), are properly used of persons (corresponding to which, as applied to things), but are sometimes, less properly and now rarely, used of animals, plants, etc. Who and whom, as compound relatives, are also used especially of persons, meaning the person that; the persons that; the one that; whosoever.
[He] should not tell
whosechildren they were.
There thou tell’st of kings, and
Do hiss into madness.
whowith cloven tongues
Do hiss into madness.
WhomI could pity thus forlorn.
How hard is our fate,
whoserve in the state.
Whocheapens life, abates the fear of death.
The brace of large greyhounds,
whowere the companions of his sports.
Sir W. Scott.
One; any; one.
[Obs., except in the archaic phrase, as who should say.]
As who should say, it were a very dangerous matter if a man in any point should be found wiser than his forefathers were.
Robynson (More's Utopia).
Webster 1828 Edition
WHO, pron. relative. pron. hoo. [L. Who is undoubtedly a contracted word in English as in Latin. See What and Wight.]
1.Who is a pronoun relative, always referring to persons. It forms whose in the genitive or possessive case, answering to the L. Cujus, and whom in the objective or accusative case. Who, whose and whom, are in both numbers. Thus we say, the man or woman who was with us; the men or women who were with us; the men or women whom we saw.
2.Which of many. Are you satisfied who did the mischief?
3.It is much used in asking questions; as, who am I? Who art thou? Who is this? Who are these? In this case, the purpose is to obtain the name or designation of the person or character.
4.It has sometimes a disjunctive sense.
There thou tellst of kings, and who aspire; who fall, who rise, who triumph, who do moan.
5.Whose is of all genders. Whose book is this?
This question whose solution I require--
As who should say, elliptically for as one who should say.
See also: WHO
who (singular or plural, nominative case, possessive whose, objective case whom)
- (interrogative pronoun) What person or people; which person or people; asks for the identity of someone. (used in a direct or indirect question)
- Who is that? (direct question)
- I don't know who it is. (indirect question)
- (interrogative pronoun) What is one's position; asks whether someone deserves to say or do something.
- I don't like what you did, but who am I to criticize you? I've done worse.
- (relative pronoun) The person or people that.
- It was a nice man who helped us.
- Who is a subject pronoun. Whom is an object pronoun. To determine whether a particular sentence uses a subject or an object pronoun, rephrase it to use she/he or her/him instead of who, whom; if you use she, then you use the subject pronoun who; if you use her, then you use the object pronoun.
- In informal writing and speech who is also used as an object pronoun (hence one hears not only whom are you waiting for? but also who are you waiting for?), and whom may be seen as (overly) formal. As an exception to this, fronted prepositional phrases almost always use whom, e.g. one usually says with whom did you go?, not *with who did you go?.
- The use of who as an object pronoun is proscribed by many authorities.
When “who” (or the other relative pronouns “that” and “which”) is used as the subject of a relative clause, the verb agrees with the antecedent of the pronoun. Thus “I who am...”, “He who is...”, “You who are...”, etc.
who? (interrogative pronoun)
who (relative pronoun)
who (plural whos)
- A person under discussion; a question of which person.