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Mastering English Grammar: The Proper Use of “Who” and “Whom”

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Grammar Rules: The Correct Use of “Who” and “Whom”

Learning the nuances of the English language can sometimes be tricky, especially when it comes to words that sound similar but have different uses. Two words that often cause confusion are “who” and “whom”. In this post, we’ll dive into the rules governing these two words and provide some tips to use them correctly.

1. Understanding the Basics:
“Who” and “whom” are both pronouns, but they are used differently. “Who” is a subjective pronoun, similar to “he,” “she,” and “they.” It is used in the subject position in a sentence. On the other hand, “Whom” is an objective pronoun, like “him,” “her,” and “them.” It is used in the object position in a sentence.

2. When to Use ‘Who’:
Use “who” in a sentence when referring to the person performing an action. For example, you could say, “Who made these delicious pancakes?” Here, “who” is the subject of the sentence, the one performing the action of making pancakes.

3. When to Use ‘Whom’:
Use “whom” when referring to someone who is on the receiving end of an action. For example, “Whom did you give the book?” Here, “whom” is the object of the sentence — the one receiving the book.

4. A Simple Trick:
If you’re still unsure about which word to use, here’s a trick: substitute the word with “he” or “him” in the sentence. If “he” fits, use “who.” If “him” fits, use “whom.” For instance, in the question “Who/Whom did you give the book?” if you answer “I gave the book to him,” “him” matches with “whom.” Hence, “Whom did you give the book?” is correct.

5. Exceptions to the Rule:
While these rules generally hold true, there can be exceptions, especially in informal language use. You might often hear “who” used instead of “whom” in casual speech and writing. This is increasingly common, and some argue that “whom” is becoming outdated. However, in formal writing and communication, it’s advisable to stick with the traditional rules to maintain correctness and sophistication.

Grammar rules can be challenging, but understanding them can enhance your writing and communication skills significantly. Remember, quality writing is not only about creativity but also precision and correctness.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab. “Who vs. Whom.” Purdue Writing Lab.

Grammarly Blog. “Who vs. Whom: How to Decide Which to Use.” Grammarly.