«

»

Nov 07

Print this Post

Who or Whom? (Updated)

Who or Whom?

No, this is not an owl impression.  These are two words so similar, they’ve sparked debate among the most esteemed of writers and educators. They are also very often misused by the general population.

Even though “whom” sounds very formal, there are specific rules for its use. Whom is a pronoun that refers to someone not directly in the conversation or statement.

It is also a pronoun used as the “object” of a sentence, that is, it is usually used with a directing preposition. “To whom does this belong?” “To whom it may concern:” “With whom did you speak the last time you were here?” Notice that when using “whom”, the person is usually unknown as well as not present.

“Who” can be used as the subject of a sentence or question: “Who are you?”  “Do you know who is coming tonight?”

“Who” can also be used as a function word to introduce a subject, “my father, who is a lawyer, never reacted badly to stress”. There is another version of who, that like whom, can be used when asking a question.  “Whoever broke the vase is in big trouble.”

“Who” should always be used in place of “that” when referring to people. “There are many people who enjoy family celebrations.” “There are many of us who are waiting for the movie to start.”

“That” is used for inanimate objects and non-persons. “These are the dogs that are available for adoption.”

Whom Fun Fact:  Did you know writers the world over for a long time (1870 to present day), thought that usage of the word whom would disappear as it’s mostly familiar in Shakespearean and, even older, a biblical turn of phrase.  However, this debate is still ongoing.

“It Matters How You Say It!”

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

http://i0.wp.com/writingitrightforyou.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_24.png?w=610 http://i2.wp.com/writingitrightforyou.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_24.png?w=610 http://i0.wp.com/writingitrightforyou.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_24.png?w=610

From Our Blog :

  • This is a commonly used expression.  But what does it mean exactly? To say that an argument or point of view “begs the question” means that the argument is assumed to be true without any evidence ...

  • Oh, the frequency of this error!  So I’ll keep this extremely brief.  When dealing with ‘I’ or “me” (rarely, myself) you must remember: Use ‘I’ (pronoun) when ‘I’ is the subject of the verb.  ...

  • When you are writing, do your subjects live in harmony with the verbs?  They should; that’s what makes a happy sentence, paragraph, term paper, and everyday conversation. To clarify: a subject ...

  • Most people won't complain about either one, but if you want to stay on the good side of the grammar, you should use "these are they." This is because the pronoun after the verb should be in the s ...

  • This post will be full of technical BUT useful terminology; please bear with me.  Knowing the terms of language is fundamental when producing good written and reading material.  That being said, l ...

  •   Shifts in tense that are not needed are actually quite common.  But, not to worry we’ve got our handy examples:   Incorrect: In history, Harriet Tubman was a pioneer for t ...

  • To dangle or not to dangle!

    A very common English grammar error, and one of my favorites because the result of th ...

  • It’s a very common mistake, a lot of people use it, and it’s very easy to correct it. In a sentence like “My cellphone was stolen, I gotta get me a new one.” Well, many of you know that “gotta” i ...

  • The rule for knowing when to use who and whom is simple; applying the rule is not. First, the rule: Who and whoever are for subjects. Who and whoever also follow and complete the meaning ...

  • Unfortunately, this isn’t a mystery story.  The dangling participle is actually a grammar error.   INCORRECT: Walking down the road, the houses were gorgeous. Although this sent ...

  • These terms right here, are 100% interchangeable.  It doesn’t actually matter which is used.  Now, your professor/client/general reader may look at you funny if you use ‘all right’ only beca ...

  • This is a case of duality, in that both of these words can have similar meaning.  However, these words are not necessarily interchangeable.  Let’s take a look at why. IF – Conjunction; Used to ...

  • Do your sentences seem to be more of a marathon than a sprint?  If so, you are probably one of many heavily worded people with a comma splice or run-on sentence occurrence. A run-on sentence co ...

  • Everyone loves a good story. Whether you watch a great television, see an award-winning movie, attend a sold-out play, or read a highly recommended book, it is because someone had a story to tell. ...

  • Disclaimer: You know that I am an English teacher, don't you? Welcome to your English lesson for today: how to correctly use these two common phrases. Recently I have heard these prepositional ...

Permanent link to this article: http://writingitrightforyou.com/home/2012/11/07/who_or_whom/