Saturday 6 April 2013

The Ridiculous World of 'Whom'?

Personally, I think the word whom should be demoted just like the planet Pluto. But since whom is a word we have to deal with, I will try to simply explain its correct use.


The difference between whom and who:  Both whom and who are pronouns. 'Who is used as the subject of a sentence or phrase to indicate who is doing something. 'Whom' is used as the object of a verb to indicate who has something done to it.

                 Who = Subject = He/She
                 Whom = Object = Him/Her

Often a preposition (by, for, in, with, at, etc.) comes before 'whom', but not always. So in deciding which, 'who' or 'whom, is correct, ask the question: 

Who is doing what to whom?

The following examples should make this easier to follow.

1.  Who do you consider the best dragon-book character?
                     Should it be who or whom?

Figure it out by turning the sentence around and replacing the who or whom with he or him. If he is wrong, so is who. If him is wrong, so is whom.

      Do you consider him the best dragon-book character?
      Do you consider he the best dragon-book character? 

Since him is correct, whom is also correct.
      Whom do you consider the best dragon-book character? 

2.  It was Snarls, the dragon, who starred in that book.
                     Should it be who or whom?

Figure it out by turning the sentence around and replacing the who or whom with he or him. If he is wrong, so is who. If him is wrong, so is whom.

                          He starred in that book.
                          Him starred in that book.

Since he is correct, who is also correct.
        It was Snarls, the dragon, who starred in that book. 

Here are some sentences for you to test your new who/who knowledge. Answers at the bottom of the post.

1.   Nobody knows who/whom will get the staring role.

2.   Nobody knows who/whom we will choose for the staring role.

3.   Please point out the actor who/whom you met today.

4.   Snarls, who/whom, was the original dragon character in that  series, now lives at Longstride Castle.

5.  Send the invitational scrolls to whoever/whomever know Snarls.

1. who
2. whom
3. whom
4. who
5. whoever

Just remember the simple little rule of he/she vs. him/her, and the problematic who/whom should become easier to solve.

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copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2013


  1. It's so simple now! I've always struggled with the use of whom/who and this post was of enormous help. You explained it much better than some grammar websites I've chanced to stumble across.

  2. Thank you, J.G.

    Complicated grammar rules drive me crazy. So once I understand a rule, I like to break it down simply. Why couldn't it just have been said simpler in the first place?

  3. Oh, yah. For those of you reading now, I fixed 'stared' into 'starred'. Snarls starred in the book, not stared in the book.

  4. Well, I like Snarls stared in the book. He was probably looking for himself in the pages. That is so like Snarls to do that. He so desperately wants to be the protagonist in your book.

    I agree with what J. G. said. You made the who/whom dilemma amazingly simply. I actually got all your sentences right, by turning them around. What a cool idea.

    This is what those punctuation guides should be explaining not the Whatever for whomever stuff they say now.

    You really simplified this problem so many of us got hung up on. Thanks!

    Have you ever considered teaching this stuff?

  5. Hi Sue,

    Yes, Snarls does stare into the book looking for himself. But I meant to say, he starred in the book, so I changed it. But in real life, it's more like; Snarls stared in the book he starred in. He has such a big ego. Shhhh.

    I'm glad this grammar rule was easy to understand.

    I have considered writing a simple grammar rule book--maybe in my spare time. HA!

    1. So I can expect the grammar book on the shelves of Amazon by the twelfth of never? I'll mark it in my calendar now. If you find yourself less busy and the release date changes, let me know.

      I'd pre-order a grammar book you wrote.

      Seriously, you have made all those dangling particulars, with whom I am unfamiliar, easy to understand.

  6. Yah, a pre-order! My first ever. This is great. If you pay now, you can get the book by 2015, more or less.

    Price is something, something, forthcoming sooner that never.