06 February 2013

Weekly Grammar Lesson

By request, I present to you:

Lesson 4: "Who" vs. "Whom"

Ah, yes. The question we've all been wondering since we first discovered the existence of "whom": what is the difference between "who" and "whom," and how do I know when to use each of them? Have no fear, fellow questioners, I am here to save your day life.

In literal terms, "who" is a subjective pronoun, while "whom" is an objective pronoun.
For example:
Who is going to the store?
In this case, "who" is the subject. "Who" is the person going to the store.
With whom are you going to the store?
In this case, "you" is the subject. "Whom" is just an object.

One of the easiest mnemonics I use to remember this is to relate "who" to "he" and to relate "whom" to "him." You can remember "whom" and "him" relate because they both end in an "m".
When answering questions like the ones above (or occasionally just rewording a statement), use either "he" or "him" to determine whether you should use "who" or "whom."

Using the same examples as before, let's use this thinking to determine whether "who" or "whom" should be used.
Who is going to the store?
A proper response to this would be "He is going to the store." Since we correctly used "he," we know to use "who" in the question. You know that "Whom is going to the store?" is incorrect because we would not say "Him is going to the store."
With whom are you going to the store?
A correct response would be "I am going to the store with him." By using "him," we can use the mnemonic to know to use "whom."

This leads me to another very common mistake. Many people would say something like, "Who are you going to the store with?" This is incorrect for two reasons:
1. We just determined that "whom" is the correct word to use in this question, not "who."
2. You should never end a sentence with a preposition. "With" is a preposition. For more preposition fun, watch this video.

Fill in the blank with either "who" or "whom." Be careful, don't be fooled by things you commonly hear (many people often use "who" and "whom" incorrectly)!
1. ____ are you calling?
2. ____ is the coolest kid in town?
3. To ____ does this beige hoodie belong?
4. Do you know ____ is coming?
5. ____ do you like?

Quiz! answers: 1. Whom 2. Who 3. Whom 4. Who 5. Whom

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