Who and Whom

This page was first published on the 2nd of November, 2016 and last updated on the 2nd of November, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.

Subject and Object Pronouns: Who and Whom

Have you ever wondered what is the difference of the words “who” and “whom”? Have you ever wondered when it was appropriate to use “who” and when to use “whom”? It’s really simple. “Who” is a subject pronoun; and “whom” is an object pronoun.

Remember that a subject is someone “who” does something. And an object is someone to “whom” something is done.

Let’s put it into practice.

At the celebration, we met a great man who had won a Nobel Peace Prize.

The pronoun “who” is used in the above sentence because the man “had won a Nobel Peace Prize”. In other words, he did something.

Second Example

The other day, I met my old friend whom I had given a ride to the airport many years back.

In the above sentence, the pronoun “whom” is used because the old friend “had been given a ride to the airport”. In other words, he did not do something, but something was done to him.

Whenever something is done to the person, use “whom”. Whenever the person does something, use “who”.

Remember that subjects carry out actions, while objects receive action.

Look at the examples below:

I met Johnny who had given me a ride to the airport many years back.

I met Jim, a man whom I had given a ride to the airport many years back.

This is the man who had kicked me to the floor when we were practicing Karate.

This is the man whom I had kicked to the floor when we were practicing Karate.

John Cena is the athlete who had beaten me in the race ten years ago.

John Cena is the athlete whom I had beaten in the race ten years ago.

Now choose the correct pronoun (who or whom) to complete the sentences below. (The exercises below are taken from Working With English by Rennie and Anderson)

  1. We want to know (who, whom) will take part in the school play.
  2. (Who, Whom) they will choose for the leading part is uncertain.
  3. Undoubtedly it will be given to the pupil (who, whom) qualifies for it.
  4. We shall be anxious to know (who, whom) the committee will choose.
  5. (Whoever, Whomever) the committee chooses will have to give considerable time to rehearsals.
  6. I know the type of person (who, whom) I would choose.
  7. I should give it to (whoever, whoever) has the best speaking voice.
  8. Certainly I should choose (whoever, whomever) seems to have a pleasing personality.
  9. I have asked several pupils (who, whom) they like best.
  10. They all said they will be satisfied with (whoever, whomever) is selected by the committee.

Related: Subject and Object Pronouns

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