Who vs Whom: A Simple Guide

By Strategically AI. Reviewed by Rebecca Hey.
Updated February 11, 2024
3 minute read
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Navigating the waters of grammar can be tricky, especially when it comes to choosing between "who" and "whom." But fear not! In this article, we're going to demystify these pronouns and help you understand when to use each one correctly.

Understanding "Who" and "Whom"

First things first, let's get acquainted with our two contenders. "Who" and "whom" are both pronouns used to refer to people, but they serve different functions in a sentence.

Who: Think of "who" as the subject of a sentence. It's used when you're talking about the person who is doing something.

Whom: On the other hand, "whom" is used as the object of a verb or preposition. It refers to the person who is receiving the action.

Examples to Clarify

Let's break it down with some examples:

  • Who: Who ate the last cookie? (The subject of the sentence is the person who performed the action of eating.)
  • Whom: To whom did you give the present? (The object of the preposition "to" is the person receiving the present.)

Context Matters

One way to determine whether to use "who" or "whom" is to rephrase the sentence and see if it still makes sense.

For example:

  • Who is going to the party? (He is going to the party.)
  • To whom should I address this letter? (I should address this letter to him.)

Wrapping It Up

In a nutshell, "who" is for the subject of a sentence, and "whom" is for the object. It's all about understanding who is doing the action versus whom the action is being done to.

So, the next time you're unsure whether to use "who" or "whom," just remember: who does the action, whom receives it.

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Understanding the difference between "who" and "whom" doesn't have to be rocket science. By grasping the simple distinction between the two pronouns, you can elevate your writing and communicate more effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I use "who"?

Use "who" when referring to the subject of a sentence, the person performing the action.

Can "whom" ever be used as the subject?

No, "whom" is always the object of a verb or preposition.

How do I know if I should use "who" or "whom" in a sentence?

Try rephrasing the sentence and see if it still makes sense. If "he" or "she" fits, use "who"; if "him" or "her" fits, use "whom."

Is it acceptable to use "who" in formal writing?

Yes, "who" is perfectly acceptable in both formal and informal writing.

Are there any exceptions to the rules for using "who" and "whom"?

While English can be tricky, the rules for "who" and "whom" are pretty straightforward. Stick to subject vs. object, and you'll be just fine!

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Rebecca Hey
Founder of Strategically.co, we’ve created over 10 million words of impactful content, driving organic traffic growth for more than 300 businesses.
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