Who vs. Whom: How to Tell Which Word to Use
"Who" is a pronoun used to refer to the subject of a sentence, while "whom" is a pronoun that is used to refer to the object of a sentence.
One common mistake many make is using "who" and "whom" interchangeably — something that often goes unnoticed. But it's important to use the right words to convey your thoughts and ideas clearly if you're looking to become a better writer.
In this post, we'll look at these two words and help you go from someone who often mistakes them... to a writer for whom they are never confused.
Let's have a look at some examples of both words in action.
Examples of "Who" vs "Whom"
"Who" and "whom" can be used to communicate very similar ideas. The only difference is whether that pronoun refers to the subject or object of the sentence.
1. The gift of books
"Who wrote the book?"
In this sentence, "who" is the subject of the verb "wrote," so it is the correct word to use.
"To whom did you give the book?"
In this sentence, "whom" is the object of the verb "give," so it is the correct word to use.
2. Party people
"Who is coming to the party?"
In this sentence, "who" is the subject of the verb "coming," so it is the correct word to use.
"Whom do you want to invite to the party?"
In this sentence, "whom" is the object of the verb "invite," so it is the correct word to use.
Mnemonic Device: Owls are wise in all subjects
As you can see, the key to knowing whether to use "who" or "whom" is to pay attention to the role of the pronoun in the sentence
- If it's the subject, use "who."
- If it's the object, use "whom."
Here's a quick tip to help you remember:
Wise owls excel at all SUBJECTS, and they say "who"!
So the next time you're using one of these words in a sentence, just remember our good friend, the owl!
While knowing the difference between "who" and "whom" won't instantly transform you into a better writer, paying attention to the pronoun's role in the sentence can help. By understanding this now, you can become a writer for whom this mistake is a thing of the past.