Is “I killed him who carried a gun” grammatically correct?



This is a grammatically correct sentence:

It is him who carried a gun.


But this one:

I killed him who carried a gun.

sounds a little odd.

Is this sentence grammatically correct? If not, what is the problem?


Posted 2017-04-01T11:11:14.370

Reputation: 145

A good question! I would say it's "grammatically correct, but very stilted and old-fashioned". It is allowable to use a restrictive clause like "who carried a gun" with a personal pronoun, but it's not something we do very often in modern, informal speech. – stangdon – 2017-04-01T12:27:10.953



Native speakers will say:

It's him who had the gun.colloquial

It is he who had the gun.formal

Your second sentence would be unusual. Instead of him, we would probably say "the man" or "the one".

There were two bank robbers. One of them was unarmed. The police shot the one who had a gun.

You will find examples of a relative clause headed by who modifying him, but this does not occur in contemporary conversational English; today it appears in literary contexts emulating older forms of the language:

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.


Posted 2017-04-01T11:11:14.370

Reputation: 116 610

Good answer, but I think this general construction (first two examples), would be pretty uncommon in any speech. People would more likely say "He is the one who had the gun." – fixer1234 – 2017-04-01T17:00:25.497

The first example I gave is very common in the patois of southeastern PA, where I come from. The meaning is "Don't look at me -- he's the one who ... ." – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-04-01T20:55:38.847