Whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition. When in doubt, try this simple trick: If you can replace the word with “he”’ or “’she,” use who. If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” use whom.
- Who should be used to refer to the subject of a sentence.
- Whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition.
Who or whom? If you’re like most English speakers, you know that there’s a difference between these pronouns, but you aren’t sure what that difference is. After reading this article, you might conclude that knowing when to use who or whom is not as difficult as you think.
When to Use Who
In a sentence, who is used as a subject. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
When to Use Whom
The Difference Between Who and Whom
How can you tell when your pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition? Try substituting “he,” “she,” or “they.” And then try substituting “him,” “her,” or “them.” If “he,” “she,” or “they” fits, you should use who. If “him,” “her,” or “them” fits, you should use whom. Keep in mind that you may have to temporarily rearrange the sentence a bit while you test it.
Try substituting “she” and “her”: She ate my sandwich. Her ate my sandwich. “She” works and “her” doesn’t. That means the word you want is who.
Let’s look at another:
Try substituting “they” and “them”: I should talk to they. I should talk to them. “Them” works, so the word you need is whom.
You can also use questions to determine when to use who and when to use whom. Are you talking about someone who is doing something?
Yes, you are talking about someone doing something, so use who in your question.
Now look at this sentence:
No, the subject of the sentence (car) is not performing the action. Use whom in your question.
If you think the whom examples sound awkward or prissy, you are not alone. Many people don’t use whom in casual speech or writing. Others use it only in well-established phrases such as “to whom it may concern.” Some people never use it. It’s not unusual at all to hear sentences like these:
Who vs. Whom Quiz