Tag Archives: Doctor Seuss

Who is missing

By Amy Beth Miller

Perhaps Horton didn’t succeed in saving the Whos. Recent evidence suggests that Whos are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Well, the residents of Doctor Seuss’ Whoville actually may be safe, but the relative pronoun “who” is in danger of extinction.

Just this morning I heard references to “the people that” and “somebody that.” It sounds like people have stopped earning the recognition of “who.” Writers and public speakers are referring to them with “that,” which is supposed to be reserved for inanimate objects and animals that we haven’t named. Yes, even your pets deserve the designation of “who.”

“That” is correct when referring to a group or type of people. Example: “She is the kind of editor that nitpicks everything.”

Please, don’t leave it up to Horton, the elephant who saved Whoville. Save the “whos”!

What word do you think is in danger of extinction?