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07/16/2015
So often we hear people use "whom" to appear sophisticated. The irony is that they often misuse the word. Here is a tool to help you notice when "whom" is used incorrectly and how to properly employ it yourself.

Subject vs Object

"Who" and "whom" are relative pronouns and their deployment depends on their role in the sentence. "Who" is a pronoun in the nominative case, meaning it should refer to the subject of a sentence. "The boy who ate the sandwich is standing over there." In this sentence, "who" is referring to "the boy," the subject. "Whom" is a pronoun in the objective case. It refers to the object of an verb. "Whom did you see yesterday?" Here, "you" is the subject, and "whom" indicates the person receiving the action of "see".

The He-Him Test

If you are confused by the distinction, try replacing "who" and "whom" with "he" or "him" to see if it works. "He" is a subjective pronoun while "him" is objective, so if "he" fits, you will use "who" and if "him" fits, use "whom". "I don't like the guy who thinks he's a genius for using 'whom' correctly." If we replace "who" with "he," we see that it makes sense- "he thinks he's a genius". If we said, "him thinks he's a genius," it would not make sense.

Look for the Preposition

Because "whom" is objective, there will often be a preposition indicating that an action is being performed on it. "With whom," "to whom," "by whom," are all correct. If there is a preposition before the pronoun, use "whom." If you are looking for grammar help over the summer, check out the academic programs at The Tutoring Center in Kansas City. We have one-to-one tutoring programs in writing, reading, math, and test preparation for students of all levels. Call 816-781-0000 to schedule a free diagnostic assessment now.

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