Who/Whom-Its not as Complicated as You might Think

If you’re like most English speakers, you know that there’s a difference between these pronouns, but you aren’t sure what that difference is. Knowing when to use who or whom is not as difficult as you think.

If you can replace the word with “he”’ or “’she,” use who. If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” use whom.

  • Who should be used to refer to the subject of a sentence.
  • Whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition.

Let’s take an example,

Keep in mind that you may have to temporarily rearrange the sentence a bit while you test it.

Who/whom ate my sandwich?

Try substituting “she” and “her”: She ate my sandwich. Her ate my sandwich. “She” works and “her” doesn’t. That means the word you want is who.

Whom ate my sandwich? – WRONG
CORRECT-  Who ate my sandwich? 

Let’s look at another:

Who/whom should I talk to about labeling food in the refrigerator?

Try substituting “he” and “him”: I should talk to he. I should talk to him. “Him” works, so the word you need is whom.

Whom should I talk to about labeling food in the refrigerator?

You can also use questions to determine when to use who and when to use whom. Are you talking about someone who is doing something?

Gina drives her mother’s car to school.

Yes, you are talking about someone doing something, so usewho in your question.

Who drives her mother’s car to school?

 

Now look at this sentence:

The car is driven to school by Gina.

No, the subject of the sentence (car) is not performing the action. Use whom in your question.

The car is driven to school by whom?
By whom is the car driven to school?

If you think the whom examples sound awkward or prissy, you are not alone. Many people don’t use whom in casual speech or writing. Others use it only in well-established phrases such as “to whom it may concern.” Some people never use it. It’s not unusual at all to hear sentences like these:

Who do you believe? [I believe HE]- WRONG
Who should I talk to about labeling food in the refrigerator? [You should talk to Mr.x (HE) ]- WORNG 
Advertisements

LEAVE A REPLY

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s