who - definition and synonyms


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Who can be used in the following ways:
as a question pronoun (introducing a direct or indirect question): Who’s going to drive?I wonder who they chose to be captain.Who did you give the money to?
as a relative pronoun (referring back to a person and starting a relative clause): I want to speak to the person who deals with my account.She was with her husband, who I had already met. (starting a relative clause that is the subject, object, or complement of another clause): I don’t know who she is.
Notice that who can be used as the subject or object of a verb or preposition. In formal English whom is sometimes used instead of who as the object of a verb or preposition, but it sounds very formal to say: To whom did you speak? It is more normal to put the preposition at the end and say: Who did you speak to?
  1. 1
    used for asking which person is involved in something, or what someone’s name is

    Who does this place belong to?

    Who killed John F. Kennedy?

    Who was that guy I saw you with last night?

    Who did you hire for the sales position?

    Do you know who’s been invited to Claire’s dinner party?

    ‘Who is that?’ ‘It’s Karen – don’t you recognize her?’

    who else (=which other person):

    Who else did you tell the secret to?

     Synonyms and related words
    1. a.
      used when someone knows or says which person is involved in something or what their name is

      They’ve already offered the job to someone, but I don’t know who.

      We have to be very careful who we deal with.

      Martha won’t say who she voted for.

       Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    used for adding information that shows which person or type of person you are talking about. It is more usual to use ‘that’ to introduce this type of relative clause

    We only employ people who already have computer skills.

    We got the same answer from everyone who we spoke to.

    I think Bramwell was the one who first suggested the idea.

     Synonyms and related words
  3. 3
    used for adding more information about a person when it is already clear which person you are talking about

    I recently talked to Michael Hall, who lectures in music at the university.

    I want you to meet my friend Marjorie, who I think I mentioned in my last letter.

     Synonyms and related words
See also