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Who versus Whom

Who versus Whom

S Nicholas

How can you tell when to use who and when to use whom? The easy trick is to use who when you don’t know. Whom is losing ground in the grammar community, much to the dismay of English lovers. However, who/whom is still important in formal writing, and the correct use is still expected.

A few simple tricks:

Whom is used after prepositions.
With whom did you sit? With is the preposition.
Remind me, to whom did you write that letter? To is the preposition.
You say by whom? By is the preposition.

Who is used in place of he or she. Whom is used in place of him or her.

Who bought a cat? SHE bought a cat. Who and she are interchangeable.

I can’t remember who wore the red shirt. I can’t remember if HE wore the red shirt. Only HE works as a replacement in this sentence. HIM doesn’t work at all.

You played ball with whom? You played ball with HIM. (And, since it’s after a preposition, you know whom is correct.)

Who is generally used as the subject of a sentence, whereas whom is used as the object of a verb. For people who are not acquainted with English rules, though, that is hard to remember because it requires knowledge of subject and objects.

I point back to the preposition rule and the he/she or him/her replacement rule. Much easier to remember!

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