Site Feedback

Who vs whom


This is from the Oatmeal. The grammar is absolutely correct, but the examples are a little strange. And really whom is dying out.



It's good, but it leaves out a bit of information. For those interested, this is what I answered to a question here before:


In English we have a subject and object. "he" is a subject and "him" is an object.


He is my friend.
I am friends with him.


"who" is a subject and "whom" is an object. You can replace it with "he" or "him" to test which to use.


Who is your friend? [He is your friend]
Whom are you friends with? [You are friends with him? - sometimes you need to change the word order when doing the he/him test]


In other cases, "who" or "whom" is used to link two parts. For example:


I like the person who bought this present for me.
[I like HIM. HE bought this present for me.]


I like the person for whom you bought this present.
[I like HIM. You bought this present for HIM]


It is only "whom" if BOTH are "him" in the test. If only one, it is still "who".

This also works with whoever/whomever.


It is common to see "to whom", but this will not always be the case. For example:


Please give this to who asked for it.
[Please give this to HIM. HE asked for it.]


I should also add "Who are you?" is correct. Because in correct English it is "Are you he?" and not "Are you him?" - although this will sound unnatural to most. This is the same for "is", "am" and "are".

Add a comment