Learn When To Use Who or Whom with Language Lady

 

The who/whom question is a tricky one. Out of all “pronouns” (some grammarians call who/whom pronouns; some call them subordinators; some call them…who knows…grammar is so subjective!)…anyway, out of all pronouns, who/whom is the trickiest to use correctly because it simply doesn’t sound as “wrong.” (We all know that you don’t say “Her is coming over later!”) Stick with Language Lady—and I’ll give you a tip for every usage problem you encounter (okay, maybe not every one…but I’ll sure try!)

Part of it sounds easy:

1) Use who in the subjective position–when you are talking about the subject. Or use who any time you could use he–he/who.

2) Use whom in the objective position–when you are talking about any object (object of the preposition, direct object, indirect object, etc.). Or use whom any time you could use him–him/whom.

But the problem is a little bigger than that because you can’t just take who out and substitute he and hear the correctness:

a. Is Ray the one who is coming to dinner?

b. Is Ray the one he is coming to dinner?

 

Actually, to tell whether you need to use who or whom, you have to do two steps, and the second step is rather laborious:

1. Remember the little trick from above:

he/who
him/whom

 

2. Then reword the sentence so that you can answer the question with he or him–and use the who or whom that goes with your answer (he/who and him/whom).

 

 

Learn When to Use Who/Whom With Language Lady!

I’m going to walk through several of these to help you because it takes a while to do this automatically and correctly:

1. She is the one who doesn’t care.

a. Who is the one who doesn’t care?
b. He is the one who doesn’t care (not Him is the one…).
c. So use WHO (He/Who)

 

2. It was that girl who stole the candy.

a. Who stole the candy?
b. He stole the candy (not Him is the one…)
c. So use WHO.(He/Who)

 

3. I have never seen anyone who could type that fast.

a. Who could type that fast?
b. He could type that fast (not Him could type that fast..)
c. So use WHO (He/Who)

 

4. I just want whomever is the very best to win.

a. Who do you want to win?
b. I want him to win (not I want HE to win..)
c. So use WHOM (Him/Whom)

 

5. We will be there at the door to greet whomever.

a. Who will you greet at the door?
b. You will greet him at the door (not greet HE at the door…)
c. So use whomever (Him/Whom)

 

6. She should just tell whomever.

a. Who should she tell?
b. She should tell him.(not tell HE..)
c. So use whomever (Him/Whom)

 

 

I hope you are one who uses who and whom correctly and not one whom others talk about concerning your grammar!

(Who uses who and whom correctly? HE does. /Who do others talk about? Others talk about HIM!)

 

Need some more practice? Here you go:

1. They didn’t say who/whom was going to lead the group.

a. Who did they not say was going to lead the group?
b. They did not say HE was going to lead the group.
c. They didn’t say WHO was going to lead the group. (He/Who)

2. I hope that whomever/whoever wins will be good for the job.

a. Who do you hope will be good for the job?
b. You hope that HE will be good for the job?
c. I hope that WHOever wins will be good for the job. (He/Who)

3. I think that we should ask whoever/whomever arrives first.

a. Who will arrive first?
b. HE will arrive first.
c. I think that we should ask WHOever arrives first. (He/Who)

4. Give honor to whom/who honor is due.

a. Who should we give honor to?
b. We should give honor to HIM.
c. Give honor to WHOM honor is due.(Him/Whom)

5. I didn’t think he was one whom/who could carry out the job.

a. Who could carry out the job?
b. HE could carry out the job.
c. I didn’t think he was one who could carry out the job. (He/Who)

6. I didn’t pass it to the one who/whom they said I should.

a. Who did you not pass it to?
b. I did not pass it to HIM.
c. I didn’t pass it to the one WHOM they said I should. (Him/Whom)

 

I’m sorry this is so challenging! I really am…especially for my one hundred students every year! If I could make grammar less subjective and easier to apply, I would wave my magic Language Lady wand and do so! 🙂

Love and hope,

Donna

P.S. What usage/grammar/writing problem do you struggle with? I’d love to answer it for you!

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