The difference between who and whom

editing_and_proofreading_blog_1051This 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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About The Proof Angel

I am a freelance editor and proofreader. I work with a wide range of clients, from companies to self publishing authors. I can help you to communicate clearly in print or on line by providing a fresh pair of eyes, carrying out a final check, or by suggesting ideas to improve the flow of your message.
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