English Usage & Grammar Notes

April 18, 2006

Who or Whom

Filed under: Uncategorized — hkeol @ 2:10 am

Who or Whom

 Correct usage of the who/whom pronouns presents difficulties for many writers. The following guidelines and examples may help you determine which one to use.

  • If a pronoun (he, she, it, they) could serve as the subject of the who/whom clause, use who or whoever.
John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in November of 1963, was the youngest president elected in the United States.
  • In the example sentence, who is part of a clause that modifies the subject of the sentence, JFK. If who were replaced with he or JFK, the clause would make sense and reinforce the idea that who not only refers to the subject of the sentence but could also replace it.


  • When a pronoun functions as the object of a clause, use whom or whomever.
John F. Kennedy, whom people respected for his political savvy, was assassinated in November of 1963.
  • In this example sentence, the whom clause modifies the subject of the sentence. It differs from the first example, however, in that whom functions as the object of the clause in which it exists. People is the subject in the clause, while whom (referring to JFK) is the object the verb respected refers to.


  • When a preposition (in, of, on, without, at, from) precedes the pronoun, use whom or whomever.
The anonymous donor, of whom we speak, graciously gave ten million dollars to the flood-relief fund.
  • In this example, whom functions as the object of the preposition instead of as the object of a clause.

HKEOL

Learning & Publication Center

Kowloon- Hong Kong

2799 4728

dwjo@netvigator.com  

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