Grammar Tip – Who Versus Whom

BizWritingTip reader: “Would it be possible to do an article on the proper use of the words who and whom?”

BizWritingTip response: Certainly. Use “who” when the word is serving as the subject in the sentence and “whom” when the word is being used as an object.This rule also works for “whoever” and “whomever.”

Was that helpful? If not, let me show you a trick.

If you can use “he” or “she” in the sentence, then you know “who” is right. If the words “him” or “her” fit in, then you know to use “whom.”

Examples

Who is calling? (I could easily say: “He is calling.” Therefore, “who” is correct.)

Whom should I hire? (I could say: “I should hire her.” Therefore, “whom” is correct.

Whom should I send the report to? (I could write: “I should send the report to her.” Therefore, “whom” is correct.

I will hire whoever has the best qualifications. (I could write: “He has the best qualifications.” Therefore, “who” is right. You can’t say: “I will hire him has the best qualifications.” It doesn’t make sense.

There is a famous baseball routine by the comedians Abbott and Costello. Remember “Who’s on first.” Whom never made the lineup.

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