BizWritingTip reader: “I struggle with the use of ‘who’ vs. ‘whom.’ Please send me a foolproof explanation with lots of examples.”
BizWritingTip response: The rules for “who” and “whom” are the same as for “I” and “me.” If it is used as the subject in a sentence, you use “I” or “who.” If it is used as the object, use “me” or “whom.”
I will arrive tomorrow.
Who will arrive tomorrow?
Send the report to me.
To whom should I send the report?
Do you want it simpler?
Whom is always the right choice after a preposition. (A preposition is a word such as in, on, of, with, to, for, by, about, and between.)
With whom should I meet?
On whom can I rely?
For whom did you vote?
With whom do you want to go? (more casually — Whom do you want to go with?)
Whom should I sent the report to? (more formally — To whom should I send the report?)
Do you want it even simpler? Here’s a neat trick. All you have to do is to answer your question or restate the sentence using “he” or “she” or “him” or “her.”Who always replaces he or she. Whom always replaces him or her.
Who/whom is calling? The answer is “She is calling.” Therefore, you know to write “Who is calling?”
She is a person who/whom is highly educated. Restated it becomes “She is highly educated.” Therefore, you would write “She is a person who is highly educated.”
I want to find an assistant who/whom I can depend on. Restated it becomes “I can depend on him.” Therefore you would write: “I want to find an assistant whom I can depend on.
The same trick works with “whoever” and “whomever.”
Now, test your knowledge:
1. Who/whom is the best salesperson?
2. I will hire whoever/whomever I like.
3. Research shows that a person who/whom reads a lot is a better writer than someone who/whom does not read.
4. Who/whom did you say you wanted to see?
5. Who/whom are you going to call?
6. Susan, who/whom is a great proofreader, is not available to work on your report.
7. Whomever/whoever said this project would be easy?
8. Is she the vice president who/whom you told me about?
1. Who 2. Whomever 3. Who, who 4. Whom 5. Whom 6. Who 7. Whoever 8. Whom
Who got all eight correct?