Who vs. Whom

Who vs. Whom

Who and whom are two of the most misused words in the English language. If you really want to cause an experienced Grammarian to stress, just misuse these two words. They are easily understood and can be used correctly-but we hear them used incorrectly so often that the correct usage is starting to sound incorrect. So, all who champion correct usage, and those for whom this isn't a big deal, let's take a closer look at who and whom.

Who and whom are both pronouns referring to what or which person or people.

Who is used as a subject. Whom is used in the objective case-or as the direct object or object of the preposition. Many other pronouns have this type of subject/object difference-he/him; she/her; we/us. Who/whom are the same way.

1. Who colored all over the walls in the living room?

2. Marcus threw the ball to whom?

3. Please tell me to whom you were speaking on the phone.

4. Do you know who is going to be singing in the talent show tonight?

5. There is just one person whom I have to see this Christmas-grandma!

When in doubt, you can try to replace who with he or she and whom with him or her. If you have used them correctly, these substitutions should make sense. If they don't sound right, then you have used the words incorrectly.

Example: Marcus threw the ball to who? Marcus threw the ball to he/she.

This is incorrect. You need whom: Marcus threw the ball to whom?

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