WHO are you going to call if you don’t understand quite how to use WHO and WHOM? Both these words are very confusing and if you feel confused do not fear, this article will help you figure out this tricky subject. Even for native English speakers, this topic can be confusing but if you remember some key pointers this article will cover it should clear up some of the confusion! Read on to learn about the key differences between WHO and WHOM and when to use either.
When to use who
Who as a general rule will replace the subject whilst whom will replace the object (more on this later). If you can substitute he/she with the word use “who”, if you can replace it with him/she use “whom”. For example in this sentence:
“Who ate my sandwich?” - you could substitute “who” with “She” and the sentence would still be grammatically correct. However, if you had to replace “Her ate my sandwich” the sentence would be incorrect and therefore we cannot use “whom” here.
When to use whom
Whom is often avoided by native English speakers unless they want to sound or come across as extremely formal. It is somehow seen or received as changing the tone and register of a sentence to extremely formal. “Whom” is the object of the sentence so it refers to the person to “whom” the action has been done.
A nice note here is that “whom” is used after a preposition so for example if you see “with”, “to”, “for” use “whom” and the sentence will be correct.
E.g. To whom is this letter addressed?
For whom shall I make this?
With whom did you go to the movie?
Who vs whom
Thus we can see that who will replace the subject in the sentence whilst whom will replace the object. Let’s take a look at the following examples.
Who and whom examples:
- This is the person who called me (You would she say “she/he warned me not she/him warned me)
- She is the one who told me (You would say “she/he told me not she/him told me)
- I need to know who made this decision (You would say “She/he makes the decision, not him/him makes the final decision)
- I know who you are! (You sound say she/he knows, not him/her knows)
- To whom am I speaking (You would say I am speaking to him/her therefore whom is correct)
- To whom this may concern (You would say this concerns him/her not it concerns her/she)
- A number of people went out one of whom was, the birthday boy wearing a strange hat (you would say the birthday was one of them therefore use whom and not the birthday boy was one of they)
- He knew very little about the lady with whom he met with occasionally (you would say, he met with her not he met with she)
Who and whom quizzes
The basic rules have been covered - Let’s test your knowledge by choosing whether “who” or “whom” is correct in each sentence
- Who/whom is paying for the dinner?
- She saw a figure who/whom she recognised as her cousin.
- At the gate he meet two men, one of who/whom he thought he knew
- Over the hills lives a man with who/whom I want to speak
- This is the girl who/whom is driving the car tomorrow
- With who/whom are you going to the cinema?
- Who/whom is coming to the party tonight?
- To who/whom shall I address this letter?
- Who/whom was elected as the leader of the party?
- To who/whom were you talking earlier in the day?
There you have it! Who or whom made easier. Remember to always look for the subject and the object in the sentence and thereafter see if you can substitute she/he and if it will make sense and be grammatically correct or whether to use her/him. This will help you to figure out whether to use who/whom. As was said earlier, whom can often sound quite old fashioned and antiquated but it will certainly impress native English speakers and especially if you are using it for formal writing. All the best and good luck! Comment below on ways you used “whom” in a sentence.
*Come and answer the above 10 Quizzes in the Comments, and you will have the chance to win $5 italki credits if you get them all correct!