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  • Writer's pictureJoy Sephton

Who or whom????



There are a couple of ways to figure out whether you should use who or whom in any given sentence.


I’ll start with the theory for those who want to dive deep and I'll end with the quick fix for those who don’t have the time or inclination to get stuck into the mechanics.



THE DEEP DIVE


1. Who is the subject of a sentence:

The subject of a sentence is the person – or thing – doing something.


Some examples:


Who was here yesterday?

The subject was being here.


Who likes chocolate?

The subject is liking (or not liking) chocolate.



2. Whom is used as the object of a verb* or a preposition**.

The object of a sentence has something done to it.


Some examples:


To whom did you complain?

The object of this sentence – whom – is being complained to. (To is a preposition.)


Whom do they worship?

Here, the object – whom – is being worshipped.


I have no idea whom I’ll be working for.

The object – whom – will be worked for. (For is a preposition.)



* Here’s a great article on verbs.

** Here’s some information on prepositions: an in-depth exploration and a simpler one.



THE QUICK FIX


1. If you can substitute the word with he or she, it’s correct to use who.


2. If you can substitute it with him or her, you should be using whom.


I’m not bringing you, we, and they into this exercise as it becomes unnecessarily complicated. You can temporarily substitute them with he, she, him, or her to help you decide.

Some Examples:


Who/Whom is complaining?

You’d never say, ‘Is him or her complaining?’ but you would say, ‘Is he or she complaining?’

Therefore, who is the right choice.


Who/Whom are we including?

You’d never say, ‘Are we including he or she?’ but you would say, ‘Are we including him or her?

Therefore, whom is the right choice.


Who/Whom used my toothbrush?

You’d never say, ‘Did him or her use my toothbrush?’ but you would say, ‘Did he or she use my toothbrush?’

Therefore, who is the right choice.


Who/Whom do they support?

You’d never say, ‘They support he or her.’ but you would say, ‘They support him or her.’

Therefore, whom is the right choice.



If you have a different trick to remember the difference, let me know in the comments 😊




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