Who vs Whom: Easy Tricks to Remember

Who vs Whom? Check out easy tricks to remember on klwightman.com!
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Whenever I’m faced with a who vs whom dilemma, my mind replays this Friends moment:

A popular misconception is that you’re a smarter person for using whom instead of who. In reality, it’s smarter to know when to use who and whom correctly.

That’s because it’s not about choosing one word over the other—it’s about knowing when to use who vs whom.

My theory on why these two words confuse us so is because of the way we speak. The m in whom makes a quiet presence when spoken, so we can’t always rely on verbal cues when deciding which word to use.

Luckily, there are easier tricks to remembering who vs whom. And it doesn’t take an advanced linguist to figure it out.

Who vs Whom

Who is used when referring to the subject in a clause. In other words, who refers to the person doing the action in the sentence.

The lady who was wearing gardening gloves planted new seeds.

Whom is used when referring to an object in the clause. In other words, whom refers to the person receiving the action in the sentence.

From whom did the lady purchase her gardening gloves?

Is It Who or Whom? Trick #1

3 Ways You Can Use the Semicolon via KLWightman.com

To remember how to use who vs whom, ask yourself this: Is the word acting as the subject or the object in the sentence.

Here’s how to figure that out. Replace the instance of who or whom in your clause with he, she, or we. Does the sentence still make sense? Then it’s a subject, meaning you should use who.

Let’s replace it in the above example:

The lady—she was wearing gardening gloves—planted new seeds.

If it sounds like gibberish, try this. Replace the instance of who or whom in your clause with him, her or us. Does the sentence now make sense? Then it’s an object, meaning you should use whom.

Like this:

From us did the lady purchase her gardening gloves [can be rephrased as “The lady purchased her gardening gloves from us.”]

Subject = who 

Object = whom 

Is It Who or Whom? Trick #2

Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes — and How to Use Them Blog Post KLWightman.com

Another way to remember how to use who vs whom is by observing what precedes the word.

Does the word who or whom follow a preposition? If it does, then you should use whom.

Let’s look at the above example again:

From whom did the lady purchase her gardening gloves?

From is a preposition, therefore you should use whom.

And here’s the other above example:

The lady who was wearing gardening gloves planted new seeds.

Lady is not a preposition, therefore you should use who.

Here’s a full list of prepositions to help you out.

Even though your grammar-inclined friends may often correct your use of who with whom, that’s not always the correct answer. It’s about where the word appears in the sentence and how it’s being used to determine if you should say who or whom.

What tricks do you use to remember how to use who vs whom? Share your tactics in the comments section below.

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