Who vs. whom. Are you aware of the difference between these two pronouns? Because they sound similar, most people confuse their usage. But not to worry! This article is going to clear your doubts. We get it! Grammar is complicated but not so complicated if you read the lines in the rule book. Go ahead and read this article below.
In this guide, we’ll be showing you the difference between these two pronouns. You will also learn how to use these pronouns when constructing sentences. Before we discuss it, make sure to learn the usage of other words in 501 Words.
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
Who vs Whom
We already know that there is a difference between these two pronouns, but don’t exactly know what it is.
“Who” refers to the subject of the sentence. On the other hand, “whom” refers to the object of a verb or preposition.
When to Use Who & Whom
One helpful tip to distinguish between the two is to replace it with another pronoun. If you can replace “he” or “she” with it, use “who” in your sentence. Meanwhile, use “whom” if you can replace it with “him” or “her” with it.
Who vs Whom Examples
To make things easier, here are some examples to help you distinguish between the two pronouns.
Who/whom will pay for the meal?
Right: Who will pay for the meal?
Wrong: Whom will pay for the meal?
This example makes more sense when you read, “he/she will pay for the meal.” It doesn’t make sense if you used him/her. This is why using who is the right answer.
The package is delivered to the house by who/whom?
Right: The package is delivered to the house by whom?
Wrong: The package is delivered to the house by who?
It gets tricky because they both sound right. Remember, first identify what’s the subject of the sentence. In this case, the subject is the package and not the person doing it. Which is why we use “whom” in this sentence because it is the object of the verb “delivered.”
Let’s use the helpful tip of replacing pronouns again. The sentence “The package is delivered to the house by him/her” makes more sense than using “he/she.”
Who/Whom is being summoned to court?
Right: Who is being summoned to court?
Wrong: Whom is being summoned to court?
In this example, it makes more sense to read, “He/She is being summoned to court” compared to “him/her.”
How To Avoid The Who Vs Whom Error
How to Avoid the “Who vs Whom” Error
English grammar, with its intricate rules and numerous quirks, often poses challenges even for the most language-savvy individuals. Few grammatical conundrums are as debated as the distinction between “who” and “whom.” The seemingly simple question of when to use each can send otherwise confident writers into a spiral of uncertainty. However, with a solid understanding of a few key principles, mastering the correct use of “who” and “whom” becomes an attainable skill, making our writing clearer, more precise, and ultimately more effective.
First, let’s break down the difference between the two. ‘Who’ acts as the subject of a sentence, while ‘whom’ fills the role of the object. To determine which to choose, you need to parse out the function each word performs within the sentence. Ask yourself: Is it taking action, or is it the recipient of the action? If ‘who’ is doing something in the sentence, like performing an action or being described, it is generally the correct choice. However, if ‘whom’ receives the action, such as being on the receiving end of a verb or a preposition, then that would be the preferable option.
Let’s consider a simple example. “Who took that photograph?” In this sentence, ‘who’ is the subject, performing the action of taking the photograph. Conversely, “To whom should I address this letter?” contains the objective pronoun ‘whom,’ as it receives the preposition “to” and the verb “address.” By understanding this dichotomy and observing the role each word plays within the sentence, we can significantly reduce the incidence of using ‘who’ erroneously in place of ‘whom’ and vice versa.
To further simplify the selection process, we may also consider the distinction from a relative perspective. When ‘who’ acts as a relative pronoun, it refers to the subject of a clause, just like in an independent clause. For instance, “I ran into John, who introduced me to his wife.” Here, ‘who’ is referring to John and acts as the subject of the relative clause. Conversely, when ‘whom’ functions as a relative pronoun, it refers to the object of the clause and fulfills a role similar to one within an object-complement clause. For example, “I met a person whom I believe may help us.” As an object complement, ‘whom’ refers to the object person that I met.
While these explanations might seem convoluted and overly complex to some, with time and practice, the correct usage of ‘who’ and ‘whom’ can become second nature. Aside from ingraining the grammar principles, employing a few practical techniques can also improve our competency significantly. When in doubt, one suggestion is to temporarily invert the sentence structure and check if substituting ‘he’ (for ‘who’) or ‘him’ (for ‘whom’) sounds more natural. For example, “Who/Whom should I ask for advice?” Try transforming it into “Should I ask HE (Who)/HIM (Whom) for advice?” It usually becomes more evident which pronoun to use after examining the substituted words.
Additionally, while not foolproof, it can be helpful to consider the tone and formality of our writing. More formal contexts, like academic or professional writing, often demand the correct usage of ‘whom’ to adhere to the standards of precision and accuracy. In informal writing or casual conversation, on the other hand, the distinction between ‘who’ and ‘whom’ might be more flexible.
Mastering the distinction between ‘who’ and ‘whom’ plays a vital role in becoming a more proficient writer. Learning to identify the subject versus the object within a sentence, practicing with relative pronouns, and using simple techniques to test sentence structure can empower us to wield language with precision and confidence. The key lies in regular practice and a belief in our ability to grapple with grammatical intricacies. As we strengthen our grasp on this perplexing grammar puzzle, our writing will shine brightly, conveying our ideas and thoughts flawlessly to readers.
Who vs Whom vs Whose
“Whose” is the possessive form of “who.” This means that you should only use this for sentences that indicate possession. This is often used in questions.
Whose dog is this?
Whose car is parked outside?
Whose turn is it to go outside?
You can check out more articles about To vs Too – When to Choose Which One and Why?
Frequently Asked Questions
“Whom” is used to refer to the object of the clause and “Who” is used to refer to the subject of a sentence. So, in this case, you should use, “The girl whom I met at the club”.
Who knows Whom is used to introduce an unknown by someone known.
In confusion to use who and whom. Remember this simple technique, when there is “he” or “she” in your sentence, use who. When there is “him” and “her” in your sentence, use whom.
Knowing the difference between “who” and “whom” is important, especially if you’re communicating in business and professional settings. While it seems confusing at first, replacing pronouns in place of who and whom makes it easier. Post questions about writing issues, interrogative pronoun, subjective-case pronoun, objective-case pronoun, object position, direct object, indirect object or anything from the article in the comment box below.
The word “whom” is disappearing from American spoken English. “Whom” is mainly used as a replacement of “who” as the object of a verb or preposition.