Which of the two should you use: Whoever vs. Whoever? Even people who speak and write English as their first language frequently get these words mixed up. Correct usage of these two words is a simple way to improve your writing. You will appear more polished both when speaking and writing.
This guide will assist you to comprehend the distinction between whoever vs whomever and ensure that you consistently use them correctly. Whoever and whomever are both personal pronouns (also known as possessive pronouns). Similar to the words who and whom, these pronouns can be used in place of names when you are unsure of the person’s identity.
- Whoever leads today’s presentation should set up the projector in advance.
- I will go through the job roles with whomever gets the job.
But that doesn’t mean you can use them interchangeably. “Whoever” is a subject pronoun, while “whomever” is an object pronoun.
The subject of the sentence is the subject pronoun. It is the thing or person that carries out a verb’s action. I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, and whoever are all subject pronouns.
Object pronoun: Not the subject of the sentence. Typically, they are impacted by the sentence’s subject and receive the verb’s action. Me, you, him, her, us, it, they, whom, and whomever, are examples of object pronouns.
There is a trick to help you determine whether the pronoun is replacing the subject or object of the sentence. If you don’t know who the person is, try rephrasing your sentence with “him/her” or “she/he” to see how it sounds.
- If she or he fits: use whoever.
- If her or him fits: use whomever
Can whoever/whomever took the book please return it?
Test the sentence using she/he: She took the book.
Test the sentence using her/him: Her took the book.
In the above example, you can see that “she” makes sense and sounds correct, but “her” doesn’t. As she (or he) fits, the pronoun “whoever” is correct: Can whoever took the book please return it?
Let’s have a look at another example:
I will introduce myself to whoever/whomever l can find.
Test the sentence using she/he: I can find he.
Test the sentence using her/him: I can find him.
In this example, the pronoun “him” works, but “he” doesn’t make grammatical sense. As him (or her) fits, the pronoun “whomever” should be used. So the correct choice is: I will introduce myself to whomever l can find.
You can also practice these grammar essentials using English learning apps. These apps are super beneficial to minimize the confusion between different words such as whoever vs whomever.
The words whomever and whoever are frequently used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. A poor impression of your written (and spoken) English can result from using the incorrect one.
Some people use it in formal writing to sound more educated and sophisticated because they mistakenly believe that whoever sounds more sophisticated. However, this error may have the opposite effect and diminish your intelligence.
Some people don’t use it at all and just use whoever as the subject and object pronoun. Even though this error is less obvious, the English is still not properly written.
So now you know when to use whomever, let’s try using it in some example sentences:
- Annie could live with whomever he wanted.
- Give the gifts to whomever you wish.
- You may bring whomever you like to the class.
- The boss will pay a bonus to whomever we employ for this task.
Because the pronoun is not the subject of the sentence, you can tell that whomever has been correctly used in each sentence. They are affected even though they are not performing the verb.
In each example, whomever could be rephrased using him/her (remember to look for the m to remind you: him = whom = whomever). You can also seek professional guidance from italki, if you want to learn English online. Here, the English tutors online will help you minimize the confusion of words like whomever and whoever, etc.
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You may have noticed from the examples above that whomever is rarely found at the beginning of a sentence. That’s because it’s the sentence’s object rather than the subject.
That gives you another simple way to decide which one to use. If you are starting a sentence, whoever comes to mind is probably the best option. Every rule, however, has a few exceptions.
Whomever you choose for this job, it is okay with me.
When you start a sentence with whomever, you are creating a subordinate clause. Remember, you will need a comma to separate it from the independent part of the sentence.
Keeping these rules in mind is necessary in order to become a fluent English speaker, you can review various language learning platforms to achieve your learning goals, for example, you can review Rosetta stone learning English to see if it aligns with your learning objectives.
Now let’s look at how to use the word whoever in some example sentences:
- I am furious with whoever ate my pizza!
- Whoever goes to bed last has to lock the gate.
- Whoever he was, he was going to be in trouble.
You may have noticed from these examples that, unlike whomever, whoever is frequently found at the beginning of sentences. To see if you have got the right word, rephrase the sentence with the word he/she. The subject of the sentence is always whoever. That can be confusing in longer sentences.
Remember to look for the verb to see who is carrying out the action. In the first example, I am feeling furious, but the verb “ate” indicates that the subject of the sentence is the person who has been eating my pizza, not me.
You can use whomsoever as a formal, but now rather archaic, version of whomever if you want to sound sophisticated Whomsoever and whomever are synonyms, so they mean the same thing, but whomsoever has fallen out of favor.
It’s most likely to be found in very formal legal or academic documents, as well as older writing.
Whosoever is an old-fashioned way of saying whoever. It is no longer in common usage, so you will find it in very formal legal documents or older texts, like whomsoever. As with whomsoever, there is no need to use whosoever in your everyday writing. While it is technically correct, it can make your writing look overly formal or old-fashioned.
With all of the confusion over whether to use whomever or whoever, it’s easy to see why many people prefer not to use whomever at all. As a result, it is at risk of becoming obsolete in the future.
The English language is always changing. We only need to look back to Shakespeare’s time to see how much it can change. Perhaps whomever will become an archaic expression, similar to whomsoever is now?
For now, whomever is still commonly accepted usage and the important thing is that, when you use it, you get it correct.
Q. What is whoever used for?
A. “Whoever” is a subject pronoun (just like “I,” “he,” “she,” “they,” and “who”). As a subject pronoun, it refers to the subject or actor in a sentence, the person who is performing the main action.
Q. Is it whoever it may concern or whomever?
A. The correct phrase should always be “To Whom It May Concern,” not “To Who It May Concern” or “To Whomever It May Concern,” which are both grammatically incorrect.
Q. Is it whomever took or whoever took?
A. If she or he fits: use whoever. If her or him fits: use whomever.
Solving the puzzle of Whoever vs whomever requires a lot of patience and practice. Try solving practice exercises to master the difference between these two words. Doing so will also prepare you for the ACT English practice and many other professional English exams and quizzes.
Read English books and try to understand the contextual use of these words. It will minimize your confusion and give you the confidence to use these words without any mistakes.