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”!


I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten points knocked off of a paper’s score because of hyphen misuse.  Here are a few golden rules:

  • If you aren’t sure a compound noun is two words, look it up!  The dictionary is one of the best friends you could ever have.  If your new best friend doesn’t have the word, use a hyphen.
  • When using more than one adjective as a single thought, use a hyphen to separate them before the noun.
  • If you can correctly use ‘and’ between two adjectives, do so and skip the hyphen.
  • For numbers, always hyphenate the compound numerals when writing them out.

Those are a few of the rules that won’t steer you wrong.

If you need writing assistance, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It!”


Different from/Different than

Is there a difference (pun totally intended)?  Yes.  First, as always, let’s look into the explanation.  ‘Different’ is a word used to contrast, rather than (tee hee) compare.  ‘Than’ usually follows adjectives used to compare people, items, conditions, etc.

Examples: More than, less thanbetter thanworse thancolder than and many more.

  • CORRECT: The birthday party was different than I expected.
  • INCORRECT: The birthday party was different from what I expected.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • When creating a sentence if a noun comes after ‘different’, use ‘from.’
  • When creating a sentence where a clause (subject and verb) follow ‘different’, use than.

If you need 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!”


What We Do: Blog & Website Content

After brainstorming all night and day for weeks or months, you are finally ready to launch your company’s website/blog…or so you thought.  When you have to explain your product or service to people who have never heard of it, what will you say?  How will you explain it?  Will it sound good?  Is it easily understandable?

Grab the sides of your head, stop the spinning!  The team at Writing It Right For You is more than happy to work directly with you.  We will make sure we have a firm grasp of what you are offering and the tone you wish to set with your audience.

“The task was greatly executed. The project is done and it is featured at my profile. Further requests were also done in a quick and professional mode. Pamela is a great writer with professional approach and understanding of clients’ wishes.”   —Anton Konovalov: Entrepreneur, Thailand

If you need assistance with communicating with your customers, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!



Title Capitalization

Situation: Student receives draft of Political Science paper back, complete with seemingly endless little red marks.  The problem, improper recognition of people’s titles.  Before turning in the final draft for a grade, see this post!

There are several rules to consider when capitalizing:

  • Mail: Capitalize a title when it comes behind a name on the signature or address line.
  • Government: Capitalize high-ranking official’s titles when used with their names or placed before the name.
    • If the name is not used, don’t capitalize.
  • General: Capitalize when addressing directly, even if no name is mentioned.

Using these simple rules,  you can show Professor So-and-So that you know what’s what!

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”!

Writing Genres: Case Studies

Writing It Right For YouThere are many genres (types) of writing for the academic sphere and for the business market. A case study, which examines a real-world scenario, can be written for either.  Usually a case study starts with a problem to be solved and continues with descriptions and evaluations to investigate the problem from various viewpoints.

A case study can be written about people or about situations. Different ways a case study is presented include through research, interviews, questionnaires, observation, diaries, or historic and current documentation.

There are generally three types of case studies, depending on the purpose:

1) Exploratory case studies use research to look for patterns in data. With an exploratory case study, you are looking for an answer to a “what” question.

2) Descriptive case studies focus on a more specific aspect of the “what” question. The purpose of a descriptive case study is to use data or information to prove a theory.

3) Explanatory case studies analyze or explain why something happens or has happened. The explanation answers “how” or “why” questions.

Case studies do not always have to be academically research-based, however. A case study can be completed about a person or situation in your company that explores, describes, or explains the attainment of an important milestone or goal.

A case study-type document can be just a few pages long or consist of several chapters. Contact the writers and editors at Writing It Right For You if you need assistance with the preparation of an academic or business case study. We know that “It Matters How You Say It”!

Editing or Proofreading?

Editing and ProofreadingWriting your document is just the first step. Whether you are writing a letter, a report, web content, marketing materials or a dissertation, your writing must be edited. It must also be proofread. What is the difference? Many people think that editing and proofreading are the same thing, but actually they are two different processes. Think back to your school days: your teacher usually told you that the paper you were writing was only the “first draft”. (And you thought you were finished with that assignment!) Once your first draft is completed, the two-part editing process begins.

The whole process is all often called “editing”, but editing is actually the first component, and should begin as soon as the first draft is completed. There are several levels of editing:

* How well is the actual content written? Does it make sense? If instructions or guidelines were given, were they followed? Does the overall document have a smooth and consistent flow?

* How is the document structured? Is everything clear? Are the topics and sub-topics logical? Does the writing move smoothly from one idea to the next?

* Is your writing clear to the reader? Is everything explained clearly? Is everything cited or hyperlinked correctly? Is the tone and “voice” consistent? Is your writing too brief or too long or too repetitive or too bland?

These are just some of what is involved in the “editing” part of the process. Often it will take several revisions to reach the final draft.

Then the document is ready for proofreading, which is the last step of the editing process. Proofreading should be done after all of the revisions are completed. Proofreading involves checking for misspellings, incorrect or missing punctuation, grammar, and formatting.

Although all word processors have spelling and grammar checkers, they are not foolproof. A word can be spelled correctly, but used incorrectly. For example, many people confuse “your” and “you’re”. Both words are spelled correctly, but are used differently. A word processing spell checker would not recognize the difference. There are similar problems with relying only on the grammar checker in a word processor. English is a very complicated language, and the grammar checkers in word processing programs are too limited in their scope.

Finally,y the formatting and citations or references must be consistent. When your writing has been edited, proofread, and formatted carefully and in detail, it is finally ready for final distribution or publication. Your writing needs both editing and proofreading.

If you need professional editing and proofreading for your academic or business documents, contact us for a customized project plan.