The two pronouns, who and whom, are completely different. Yet you get stuck when using them in a sentence. Maybe you second guess like Monica does in Friends.
You know, what?
This who vs. whom battle is not as difficult. It’s a piece of cake if you understand the grammar behind it. There’s also a trick you can use to get past the confusion every time. Let’s start with the grammar bit.
Recommended reading: 20 Writing Tips That Will Make You An Amazing Writer
Who Or Whom: The Grammar
“Who” is used as a subject, and “whom” is used as an object of a verb or preposition.
The subject of a sentence takes the action, while the object of the sentence is the one being acted on.
- Who would like to come with me?
- Whom would like to come with me?
Here, “who” is used as the subject of the sentence and it’s taking the action in the sentence.
- To whom is the mail addressed?
- To who is the mail addressed?
Here, “whom” is used as the object of the sentence and it’s the one on the receiving end of the action.
But for the days you don’t have this grammar rule handy in memory, the simple trick in the next section will make your life easier.
Who Or Whom: The Trick
Whenever you encounter a who/whom problem, try substituting it with the pronouns “he/she” and “him/her.”
If “he/she” fits, then the correct pronoun to use is “who.” If “him/her” suits the sentence, then the correct pronoun is “whom.” The graphic with intelligent owls from Your Dictionary below summarizes the trick aptly:
Let me share an example.
Example 1: Who/whom did all the chores?
When we substitute “he”: He did all the chores.
When we substitute “him”: Him did all the chores.
Since “he” works, “who” is the right pronoun to be used here.
- Who did all the chores?
Let us take another example to make sure our little trick works.
Example 2: Who/whom should I email my concerns?
Substituting “he”: I should talk to he.
Substituting “him”: I should talk to him.
Since “him” works, “whom” is the right pronoun to be used here.
- Whom should I email my concerns?
And there you have it.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Next time you’re not sure whether to use who or whom, keep this handy substitute trick in your back pocket and you’re good to go. Next up, read how to distinguish between your vs. you’re.