Sandy Turner of Indianapolis asked for help on when to use "who" and "whom," which confuses many people.
1. Use "who" for the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase.
Examples: "Who will deliver the presentation?" ("Who" serves as the sentence's subject.) "All staff members who have been with the company for at least five years will receive an extra week of vacation." ("Who" serves as subject of the clause "who have been with the company.")
2. Use "whom" for the object of a verb or preposition.
Examples: "To whom should I send the report?" ("Whom" is the object of the preposition "to.") "This letter is for the CEO, whom I met yesterday." ("Whom" is the object of the verb "met.")
Tip: Use "who" when you could substitute "I," "we," "he," "she" or "they." Use "whom" when "me," "us," "him" or "her" would fit (although you may need to paraphrase the sentence).
Based on the examples above, you could substitute these pronouns:
- "I will deliver the presentation."
- "She has been with the company for at least five years."
- "To him (whom) should I send the report?" (Or, paraphrased: "I should send the report to him.")
- "This letter is for the CEO; I met him yesterday."
Peeved by a common error? Puzzled by perplexing grammar rules? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Grammar."
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