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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 179

detect anything wrong in this sentence from the London Times, denounced as corrupt by the Fowlers: “We must reconcile what we would like to do with what we can do.” Nor in this by W. B. Yeats: “The character who delights us may commit murder like Macbeth … and yet we will rejoice in every happiness that comes to him.” Half a century ago, impatient of the effort to fasten the English distinction upon American, George P. Marsh attacked it as of “no logical value or significance whatever,” and predicted that “at no very distant day this verbal quibble will disappear, and one of the auxiliaries will be employed, with all persons of the nominative, exclusively as the sign of the future, and the other only as an expression of purpose or authority.” 29 This prophecy has been substantially verified. Will is sound American “with all persons of the nominative,” and shall is almost invariably an “expression of purpose or authority.” 30
  And so, though perhaps not to the same extent, with who and whom. Now and then there arises a sort of panicky feeling that whom is being neglected, and so it is trotted out, 31 but in the main the American language tends to dispense with it, at least in its less graceful situations. Noah Webster, always the pragmatic reformer, denounced it so long ago as 1783. Common sense, he argued, was on the side of “who did he marry?” Today such a form as “whom are you talking to?” would seem somewhat affected in ordinary