Beware of Whom with Parenthetical Expressions

This morning the following caption appeared in a Democrat-Gazette article about a bank robbery:

Springdale police are searching for this man whom they say robbed an Arvest Bank branch Thursday.

The error with whom in this caption is common in sentences that contain a parenthetical phrase or clause: a group of words thrown into another clause, separating its subject from its verb. Examples of such expressions are “they say,” “according to (object),” and “in my opinion.”

 

Here are two more examples of this kind of error:

Fire personnel radioed deputies to stop the driver, whom, according to reports, appeared to have been under the influence of intoxicants.

Before we started coming to BBBA, I [had] taken him to numerous pitching and hitting coaches whom in my opinion were out for the money and not the overall improvement of my son’s baseball ability.

In each of these examples, the whom should be who because the pronoun functions as the subject of a verb that follows the parenthetical expression:

Springdale police are searching for this man who they say robbed an Arvest Bank branch Thursday.

Fire personnel radioed deputies to stop the driver, who, according to reports, appeared to have been under the influence of intoxicants.

Before we started coming to BBBA, I [had] taken him to numerous pitching and hitting coaches who in my opinion were out for the money and not the overall improvement of my son’s baseball ability.

More about whom:

Whom is not for everyone

That tricky word whom

“Whom” is Not for Everyone

That Tricky Word “Whom”