Why is it correct to use who, instead of whom, in the following example: "The man who you met yesterday's bicycle"This example is in your explanation about the SAXON GENITIVE.

Expert Answers
mimerajver eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The example shows an awkward use of the Saxon Genitive. Moreover, it is a fragment, since what should be the main clause lacks a conjugated verb, and attributes the thing possessed -the bicycle- to "yesterday", which is made to function as a noun. 

Let's see what happened. The fragment tried, but failed, to combine two sentences

  • Yesterday you met a man 
  • The man had a bicycle 

by means of a defining adjective clause connected to the main clause by a relative pronoun. Note that in the first sentence "yesterday" functions as a time adverb.

The subject of the new sentence is you, and the object is the man. 

The new sentence -in this case, again, not a sentence but a fragment- places the object at the beginning. As this object is a person (or indirect object in a traditional analysis), it should be connected to the rest of the sentence by the relative pronoun whom. The relative pronoun who connects personal subjects only.

Then, the use of "who" is incorrect, and the Saxon Genitive in the example provided is at least unnatural. The only possible correct combinations would be the following sentences:

The man whom you met yesterday had a bicycle

or the contact clause (ommission of relative pronoun when the clause starts with a subject word)

The man you met yesterday had a bicycle