This one opens a big can of worms.
There is a basic point of grammar you need to know before we start:
- The subject of the sentence is the person doing the action described in the verb.
- The object of the sentence is the person or thing on the receiving end of the verb.
So if I eat the bread, I am the subject, and the bread is the object.
“Who” is a subjective (or nominative) pronoun, like “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” and “they.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the subject of a clause.
“Whom” is an objective pronoun, like “him,” “her,” “it”, “us,” and “them.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the object of a clause.
So whether you should use “who” or “whom” depends on whether you’re referring to the subject or object of a sentence.
When in doubt, use the other pronouns in the same sentence to see what fits:
- “Who loves you?” becomes “He loves me.”
- “I consulted a solicitor whom I met in York” becomes “I consulted her.”
Did you know that online dating profiles generate more interest if they use the word “whom”? There doesn’t seem to be a link between success and correct use.
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