Writing Tips: Spot the Difference (7): who vs whom


Writing Tips: Spot the Difference (7): who vs whom

I don’t see whom being used very often, maybe it has been lost as a word from a forgotten time. It’s quite a tricky rule, as it’s difficult to diffentiate when to use whom opposed to who.

The difference between the two comes down to the object and subject of the sentence. The subject of the sentence is who or what performs the verb contained within the sentence. The object is what is affected by the verb performed by the subject. For example,

John kicked the soccer ball. In this case, John is the subject, kicked is the verb and the soccer ball is the object.

You use who when reffering to the subject and whom when referring to the object. Simple right? Um, yea…probably not. Ok, there is a cheat way to work it out…

The pronoun him, like whom ends in an m. When you are trying to determine if it is who or whom, ask yourself if the answer to the question is he or him. For example,

Who/whom ate the last cupcake? The answer in this case is him. Therefore, the question becomes: whom ate the last cupcake?

Hopefully this makes it a bit clearer.

EDIT: This was added by a friend of mine.

A slightly easier way of understanding the trick is just to arrange the question in its sentence answer form (rather than only trying to think of the he/him answer).Who ate the last the cupcake? He ate the last cupcake. (The ‘who’ refers to the subject — the person who ate the last cupcake (i.e. the person taking the action)).To whom does the last cupcake belong? The last cupcake belongs to him. (The ‘whom’ refers to the object — the ownership of the cupcake (i.e. the person being acted upon (by owning the cupcake))).

Come check out the directory for the rest of my writing tips!


Cheers Jed for clearing that up!