Q. Please confirm or contradict the following. The special grammatical role played by the relative pronoun “whoever” leads to a case that few seem to know how to handle: when its role in the main clause appears to be objective, but its role in the subordinate clause is nominative.

For instance, I frequently read things like “We will give the prize to whomever runs the fastest.” This is incorrect; it should be “whoever.” The rule is that the case of the relative pronoun is governed by its role in the subordinate clause, not the main clause. Thus, in this case, it is the subject of “runs” and is therefore nominative. The object of “to” is the entire clause “whoever runs the fastest.”

If you agree with this analysis, please put something on your site about it that I can refer people to. I have some arguments I would like to win. :-)

Q. Is “this is mine and Kelly’s cat” correct? Would you please explain the rules behind this sentence. Thank you.

Q. Could you please give a definitive answer to the its versus it’s issue? I just came back from a writing conference, and the advice we received was contradictory to everything I was taught previously, as well as contradictory to what I can find online on college websites. Most writer’s websites that I’ve checked out are claiming that the only time its is written as it’s would be when the meaning is “it is.” What happened to possessive nouns?

Q. I hope I’m not losing my mind. I’ve been told that “they” and “their” are used incorrectly in this sentence: “The telltale sign of a right-winger: they can’t write in English to save their lives.” I agree that it’s an awkward sentence, but is “they/their” used incorrectly? Thanks!