By Request: Who verses Whom

Before I get on to this, I have an overall opinion (I know, shocking)

The English language is evolving rapidly.  Whom is one of those words that is unfortunately falling into the realm of obsolescence.  Mainly, this is from lack of use due to people not understanding how to use it.

Also, when you do use it, whether or not you use it correctly, you end up sounding “hoity-toity” because it is one of those words that has become synonymous with “upper class” for some reason.

So, if you don’t mind sounding hoity toity, and you can stop in the middle of a sentence to figure it out… this is what you need to do:

Decide if the “who or whom” is replacing the word “he/she or him/her”

He/she=who

Him/her=whom.

***Let’s explore this, shall we?***

Who/whom fed the dog?

Eric (he) fed the dog. (Chloe is a happy puppy)

He=who

Therefore, Who is correct.  “Who fed the dog?”

Who/whom should I ask?

Should I ask for he? (NO) Should I ask for him? (YES)

Him=whom

So, Whom is correct.  “Whom should I ask?”

(yeah, like anyone is actually going to say that, right?  Do you hear the hoity-toityness?

Here is an example from Grammar Girl:

We all know who pulled that prank.

But

We want to know on whom the prank was pulled.

Now, let’s be serious.  Does anyone see what I’m seeing?  If you tried to use the second “whom” example in your novel, unless you are writing Historical Romance, people would laugh at you.  Who in their right mind is going to say “We want to know on whom the prank was pulled.”?

You guessed it:  no one.

My suggestion?  Use who, even if it is not correct… especially if it is in speech.  Unless you have a character that is a grammarian, I see no reason to use the word “whom” in realistic speech anymore.

Sad, but true.  Goodbye, whom.  We will miss you.  Please say hello to “whilst” for me.

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14 responses to “By Request: Who verses Whom

  1. Donna B. McNicol [@donnabmcnicol]

    Okay, now go who’s, whose….. 😉

  2. Thanks for the lesson (I am probably among the many who requested it.) I’m much relieved with the advice to just let it go, but will still likely be er-ing and um-ing while speaking. I find I’ve become very good at changing my sentences around so I never face the “whom” issue when speaking!

  3. This is one area of grammar I cannot grasp!

  4. English is my second language and when I’m watching things like movies or reading things, I very rarely come across a “whom”, I guess people just don’t like it. It does feel kind of weird to say it. It reminds of Friends (the TV Show) where Ross always corrects the other characters when they don’t use whom but he never says it either. I think that was the joke!

  5. I agree! When I use Whom, I feel like a grandma is talking instead of my young, beautiful character. Thanks for helping me feel good about breaking grammar rules.

  6. Good post, especially because I feel I can now tell someone to shove “whom” up their bum when they correct me. Jk, kind of…Anyway, did I already miss the lesson on Who’s vs Whose? Can I request that?

  7. Disagree. I use it. My friends use it. And while unless my characters are well-read and speak formally, they don’t use it, I will use it when narrating.

    Yes, the English language evolves. Things change. Rules of grammar are not objective fact but constituted through practice. My concern, though, is that the logical endpoint of this is that proper grammar and word choice in general become seen as “hoity-toity,” and therefore useless.

  8. Good tip, I’ll keep it mind now that I understand it. 🙂

  9. I agree with you. Whom sounds hoity-toity. And if people think I’m using poor grammar because I used who instead of whom, I can deal with that. 🙂

  10. It’s not in my sci-fi manuscript, but there are three in the mainstream one. Now you’ve got me thinking they could be replaced…!

  11. I don’t think I’ve ever used whom lol 😉

    xx