Let’s crack the code for who and whom. It is easier than you might imagine. In addition, I will give you the technique for learning when to use whoever vs. whomever. The following are informal methods rather than rules; however, they really work!
Rule: Use who when you could replace it with he.
Example: Who/whom is standing by the gate?
We would say, “He is standing by the gate.” So who is correct.
Example: Gail wished she knew who/whom won.
Gail wished is a subject and verb pair (also called a clause). She knew is another subject and verb pair (clause). Who/whom won, the third clause, is the one we care about here. We would say, “He won.” So who is correct.
Rule: Use whom when you could replace it with him.
Example: To who/whom am I speaking?
Let’s turn the question into a sentence to make it easier: I am speaking to who/whom. We would say, “I am speaking to him.” Therefore, whom is correct.
Example: Hank wanted to know who/whom they trusted.
Hank wanted to know is a clause. That leaves who/whom they trusted. Again, let’s turn the question into a sentence: Who/whom did they trust? We would say, “They trusted him.” Therefore, whom is correct.
1. Who/Whom should I ask to the dance?
2. Cedric hasn’t decided who/whom should be appointed yet.
3. I’m looking for an assistant on who/whom I can depend.
Pop Quiz Answers
1. Whom should I ask to the dance?
2. Cedric hasn’t decided who should be appointed yet.
3. I’m looking for an assistant on whom I can depend.
Posted on Monday, May 1, 2006, at 3:46 pm60 Comments on Who vs. Whom