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Who vs. Whom: How to Determine Which Word to Use

Who vs. Whom: How to Determine Which Word to Use

There are quite a lot of tough grammar topics in the English language, but the “Who vs. Whom” dilemma is one of the trickiest. We at Textly.AI thought it is an excellent time to break it down finally, and give you the bulletproof method of being always correct at this who/whom thing.

Subject and object

The difference between who and whom originates in the nature of the subject and object of a sentence. The subject denotes someone who acts, i.e. doing something. When you refer to the subject, using who will be the correct choice.

Simply put, “Who” is completing actions in your sentence.

Examples:

Who is going to the party with me?

Who is the tallest in the class?

Who broke the vase?

If in your sentence the person is receiving actions denoted by the verb, here we have an object. In this case, you need to use “Whom.”

Examples:

Whom did she shout at?

To whom your message was sent?

Need help? It still might be tricky to be always correct with who/whom, even if you know the rules. Textly.AI writing assistant uses a sophisticated algorithm that can save you from this and thousands of other grammar, punctuation, and style mistakes. Install Chrome or Firefox extension to eliminate errors in your writing everywhere on the web. Use Textly.AI Premium to catch 400+ more errors and receive AI-based recommendations.

Mnemonic

There is a faster way to decide between the two words. If you can substitute the actor in the sentence with he” or “she” and “him” or “her.” If you see that “he” or “she” perfectly fits your sentence then you need to use who. If “him” or “her” looks better than use whom.

Question

Another way of solving the task is by asking questions. If you are speaking about someone doing something (an object), then you can easily come up with a question with “who.”

Example:

Sentence: Tom is going home.

Question: Who is going home?

And vice versa, the subject of your sentence is not performing actions, and you will use “whom” in the question.

Example:

Sentence: The letter is delivered by a mailman.

Questions: The letter is delivered by whom? / By whom the letter is delivered?

The M-rule

Let’s go deeper and simplify everything even further. You can figure out what word to use by looking for just one letter. It is M.

Here is how it works: if you’ve answered the question mentioned above with “Him,” then use “Whom” – they both end with M!

If you answered “He” – you see, it ends with a vowel, then use “Who” – it ends with a vowel as well.

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