Elizabeth O'Brien

Hello! I'm Elizabeth O'Brien, and my goal is to get you jazzed about grammar. 

Who vs. Whom
Which one should you use?

It's time to study who vs. whom, a topic you've all been waiting for!

I'd like to admit something pretty embarrassing right from the start. Are you ready? I didn't know that whom was a word until I was in college. That is not an exaggeration, folks. It's just a sad, sad fact.

I realize that that may not exactly instill in you a feeling of trust for my knowledge, but I've come a long way since those whom-free days, and I think they helped me become a better teacher.

Anyway, you're probably at least aware that the word whom exists, but you might have some confusion surrounding when you're supposed to use it. Let's explore that topic and get you confident about which word to use.

who vs whom

Who vs. Whom

This silly photo pretty much sums it up. Who is always a subject and whom is always an object.

Who vs. Whom
Who Is A Subject

Subjects are words that tell us whom or what a sentence is about.

Birds chirp.

Andrew called David.

The white cat belongs to my nephew.

Those underlined words are the subjects of the sentences. They tell us whom or what each sentence is about.

Whenever you are using a subject, choose who.

Who threw the frog on my head?

Who is coming to the concert?

In both of those sentences, who is the subject.

Who vs. Whom
Whom Is An Object

Objects are a little bit more complicated than subjects because there are different kinds of objects.

I'll list a few of them for you.

I baked the class a cake.

I baked the class a cake.

I baked a cake for the class.

Whenever you want to use an object, choose whom.

Whom did you call?

Whom is the direct object of the verb did call.

The frog was thrown by whom?

Whom is the object of the preposition by.

Did that help to clear up this "who vs whom" mess? I hope so. If not...

Thanks for nothing, Elizabeth.
That doesn't make any sense to me.

If you feel like this information has not been the least bit useful, it's probably because you're still learning to tell the difference between subjects and objects.

If that's so, you are in luck. There is an easy way out of this whole who vs whom business.

You can use the trusty him test.

While you may not know when to use who and whom, I'll bet that you know when to use he and him, right?

You simply insert the word he or him into your sentence and see which one sounds right. If he sounds right, use who. If him sounds right, use whom.

He/Him ate my cookie?

Who/Whom ate my cookie?

When it comes to certain questions, the him test gets a little wonky. In order to perform this test on questions, it's helpful to turn them into statements first.

He/Him did you send the card to? = You did send the card to he/him.

You did send the card to who/whom. = Whom did you send the card to?

I hope this page has helped to solve your who vs whom dilemma.

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Elizabeth O'Brien from Grammar Revolution

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My daughter and I looked at your helping verbs video, and we learned your song. Yay! It's brilliant. Thank you. This inspired my daughter to write out the song and draw a picture of a flower next to it with the title, 'I love helping verbs' in bubble writing. How cute is that?! Nothing previously has ever inspired her to write independently!

Your enthusiasm is contagious!
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Elizabeth O'Brien

Elizabeth O'Brien is the creator of Grammar Revolution.

Her lessons are guaranteed to give you more confidence in your communication skills and make you smile. :)

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