Whoever vs. Whomever Revisited



In the “English Rules” section of our website, GrammarBook.com, you will find our simple explanation for determining whether to use who or whom.

Briefly, this is the trick:
who = he (subject pronouns)
whom = him (object pronouns)

Example: Who/Whom is at the door?
He is at the door.

Example: For who/whom should I vote?
Should I vote for him?

To determine whether to use whoever or whomever,  the he/him trick still applies:
he (subject case) = whoever
him (object case) = whomever

Rule 1: In the objective case, the use of whoever or whomever is determined by the pronoun’s position in the object.

Examples:
Give it to whoever/whomever asks for it first.
Whoever is correct because it is the subject of the independent clause whoever asks for it first. This entire independent clause is the object of the preposition to.

We will hire whoever/whomever you recommend.
Whomever is correct because it is the object of you recommend. The independent clause whomever you recommend is the direct object of will hire.

We will hire whoever/whomever is most qualified.
Whoever is correct because it is the subject of the independent clause whoever is most qualified. This entire independent clause is the direct object of will hire.

 

Rule 2: In the subjective case, the use of whoever or whomever is determined by the pronoun’s position in the subject.

Examples:
Whoever/Whomever is elected will serve a four-year term.
Whoever is correct because it is the subject of the independent clause Whoever is elected, which is the subject of the sentence.

Whoever/Whomever you elect will serve a four-year term.
Whomever is correct because it is the object of you elect. Whomever you elect is the subject of the sentence.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Omar will talk about his girlfriend with whoever/whomever asks him.
  2. Kimiko donates her time to whoever/whomever needs it most.
  3. Quinton will work on the project with whoever/whomever you suggest.
  4. Whoever/Whomever wins the lottery will become a millionaire.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

  1. Omar will talk about his girlfriend with whoever asks him.
  2. Kimiko donates her time to whoever needs it most.
  3. Quinton will work on the project with whomever you suggest.
  4. Whoever wins the lottery will become a millionaire.

Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, at 7:15 pm

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6 Comments on Whoever vs. Whomever Revisited

6 responses to “Whoever vs. Whomever Revisited”

  1. Katie says:

    I understand WHO is a subject and WHOM is an object. I got all the quiz answers, both on this site and in the Blue Book I have at home, correct. I thought I had it down cold until I came across this type of sentence:

    I have five cats, most of whom are male. (Which is true.)
    WHOM is the object of the preposition OF so obviously WHOM is correct. But if I use the HE/HIM test (that has not failed me thus far), it fails me on this.
    WHO are male? THEY (HE – subject) are male. So I think to use WHO.

    I know that you can stop at cats as a complete sentence.
    I have five cats. Most of THEM are male. THEM (HIM) is the object, which would make it WHOM. So I think to use WHOM.

    Can you please clarify this for me?

  2. Lucky says:

    “We will hire whoever/whomever you recommend.
    Whomever is correct because it is the object of you recommend.”

    I am unable to understand how the object of you is coming before it. Would it be possible for you to elaborate the explanation a bit more to help me understand better please?

    • If you change the word order to “you recommend whomever,” perhaps it will make it easier to see how whomever is the object of you. To determine whether to use whoever or whomever, the he/him rule applies (he=whoever, him=whomever). You recommend him.

  3. Carolyn Kurisu says:

    Please advise—what pronoun is correct in the following sentence and why…
    Praising He/Him Who answers prayers.

    I am confused about the subjective/objective pronoun use in this sentence!

    • We would write “praising Him who answers prayers.” “Him” is in the objective case, and “who answers prayers” is a relative clause modifying that objective word. The objective position of “Him” doesn’t influence the case of the relative clause, which is an independent unit.

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