WHO vs WHOM
- WHO is a pronoun that refers to the subject of the sentence.
- WHOM is a pronoun that refers to the object of the sentence.
- Who locked the door?
- She’s the woman whom I met in Paris.
Here are a few general rules that will help you never get confused about which pronoun to put in a sentence:
When to Use Who
1) You are asking about the subject, i.e. the person who performs the action, e.g. Who is his mother? Who will come here tomorrow?
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2) You are adding a clause to give additional information about the subject, e.g. Jennifer is my friend who likes reading.
3) You are asking about the name of someone or a group of people, e.g. Who is the class president?
When to Use Whom
1) You are asking about the object, i.e. the person to which the action is directed, e.g. Whom should I help? Whom did you ask to come with you?
2) You are adding a relative clause to give additional information about the object, e.g. She called the man whom she met yesterday.
3) You are asking an indirect question about the object, e.g. They asked me, whom I invited to dinner.
When to Use Whom vs Who
There is a trick that will help you solve the “Who vs Whom” dilemma you might be having when speaking and writing. If you can replace the pronoun with “she” or “he”, “who” will be correct. Otherwise, if you can substitute the pronoun with “her” or “him”, you should use “whom”.
Let’s say that you want to ask, “Who/ Whom took my book?”. The answer to this question might be, “She took my book”, not “Her took my book”. Therefore, in this case, it is correct to use “who”: Who took my book.
Take a look at a different example: “Who/ Whom should I ask about the plans for tomorrow?”. The answer will be, “I should talk to him”, not “I should talk to he”. This means that “whom” will be the right pronoun to use in this sentence.
On some occasions, however, it is a little bit more complicated and, in order to figure out which is the correct option, you will need to slightly rewrite the sentence.
For instance, there is a sentence, “Mary is the girl who/ whom I told you about”. Which pronoun should you use? To decide, change the structure and say, “Mary is the girl. I told you about her”. Maybe this structure sounds a bit awkward, but it clearly shows that the correct pronoun is “whom” because you can’t say, “I told you about she”.
What about the sentence, “James is the man with who/whom I am going to the party”? If you rewrite it, you will get, “James is the man. I am going to the party with him”. Therefore, “whom” is the pronoun that you should use in this case.
- He who lives near the woods is not frightened by owls.
- I discussed it with my brother, who is a lawyer.
- Who was that on the phone?
- A good book is a best friend who never turns his back upon us.
- Whom did you choose for our team leader?
- To whom did you give the book?
- She disliked the president, whom she once described as an “insufferable bore”.
- Whom would you suggest for the job?