Grammar 101: Part 2 - Who & Whom

Who is this you might ask? Who, he is, indeed. Dr. Who to be precise. *le-sigh*

Who and Whom- Oh what a fun little subject. (This is going to be fairly long, so if you want to skip ahead to the part where I actually impart some wisdom on you, please, do skip ahead to the heavily asterisked heading.)

Don’t you just love pronouns like this? Interrogative Pronouns to be precise. Why can’t they just be nice pronouns like the subjective pronouns be they first person (he, she, it, etc.) or second (you) or even inclusive (we). No these little buggars had to be pesky and annoy school age children through to adult hood.

I must amend my statement, I don’t hate all interrogative pronouns. What and which are perfectly fine. I have no problem with you, you may go if you don’t want to hear the rest of this, save your poor little ears the trouble.

Who does Whom think it is! I mean when you use it correctly it sounds so stuffy! Who does it think it is! To Whom does it think it’s speaking? I often feel silly when I use it in a sentence, even when I know I’ve used it correctly.

The English language is a jungle full of pitfalls and scarry monstrous rules that threaten to swallow you up unless you have some understanding of them.

*** When to use Who and Whom ***

First things first. Who is used in reference to the subject of a clause. Whom is used when referring to the object of a clause. Have I lost you yet? (Or “Whom have I lost?”)

Ok as a refresher, the subject is the person performing the action and the object is the person having an action done to them. In the case of “whom have I lost”, “I” is the subject and “Whom” is identifying the object.

I enjoy this example: If I say, "I love you," you are the object of my affection.

I’m sure most of us are more concerned with “whom” than we are with “who”. I know I for one rarely find myself inserting “whom” when I’m unsure of which to use

Here’s how I determine the right use of these two words (and frankly I’ve found a lot of other sites suggest you do the same):

I found a useful tool in using the “he/him” method. By this method, you find the correct format for your question in its answer.

For instance.

If the question is: Who/Whom wrote this book?

We answer the question, “He wrote that book. Obviously we do not say “him wrote that book. Therefore, the correct question is “Who wrote this book?”

If the question is: Who/Whom does this Jacket belong to?

We answer the question, “It belongs to him.” Unless of course you’re really batty and then you answer with “That Jacket belongs to the great Ulysses S. Grant!” but you’re not batty and you want to do it right, so it is correct to use Whom. “Whom does this jacket belong to?”

*** End of the “Real Information”***

I hope that’s left you with a better understanding of how to use Who and Whom, hopefully Whom’s feelings weren’t hurt too badly by my scathing remarks… but there are always casualties in the battle of grammar. Hopefully you won’t be one of them!

As a disclaimer I would like to say that I am in no way a grammar goddess. I make lots of mistakes - as I'm sure some grammar nazi's reading this will note.


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