Listening to my grammar brain

Speaking of who/whom, here’s a pronoun case chart from cengage.

I assume it’s from the textbook Evergreen: A Guide to Writing by Susan Fawcett.

Personal narrative: I saw a pronoun case chart for the first time in my life when I started teaching freshman composition. Up to that moment, I had no idea what the grammatical distinction was between who and whom; I certainly had no clue what the word “case” might mean, or what part of grammar it applied to.

The chart was a revelation.

Very satisfying!

Interestingly, I discovered that in fact I did know the distinction unconsciously, deep down in my basal ganglia, where grammar resides. I had picked it up in spite of the fact that whom has been dead for a century.

My basal ganglia knew the dead-for-a-century business, too.

Grammar brain knows.

The basal ganglia are much smarter than we give them credit for, but that is a subject for another day.