Writing English flawlessly is a dream not only for the people from countries where English is not the first language, but at times even natives find themselves befuddled because the rules of this language are not easy.
Get it right: It’s WHO or WHOM? Check it here at https://www.grammarlookup.com (And also find grammar, and punctuation mistakes in your writing)
As a matter of fact, no language has easy and understandable rules. Language does not work like mathematics.
The only rule that you should know is that there is no rule of thumb when it comes to language.
We all have our own nemesis; I find it hard to decide where to use “the”. It is because this word can sometimes be used out of proportion, but if you looked at the rules, it is always justified.
Another such problem that many people have is in terms of who and whom. There are those who do not know how to use each of these pronouns and then there are those who confuse the meaning of each of them with the other.
Well, not anymore.
In this blog post, you will learn to differentiate between both of them.
- Who Meaning and Usage
‘Who’ is a pronoun used to refer to a person when the gender, name, designation or other details are not known.
For example, if you see someone and you do not know who they are, you use this word.
You can see that in the previous sentence I used the word ‘who’. When you do not know ‘who’ someone is, you use the word ‘who’.
The examples are:
Who is that woman?
Who was the man who first walked on Moon?
Who told you that I’m going to step down from my office?
This word, who is used as a subject and it has a relation with the subject only. For example, if we talk about a dancer, the dancer is the subject, who will be linked to the dancer and thus it will be used as a subject.
Who is that tall dancer on the stage?
A few examples show the relationship of who and subject in the sentence. In a sentence where the subject is not mentioned, who is the subject?
Who would like to go on a vacation?
Who are you, boy?
- Whom Meaning and Usage
Whom is also a pronoun, but instead of representing a subject, it represents the object. It is used when gender, name, and other details of the object are not mentioned in a sentence.
For example, take that one of the most famous sentences that all of us have either heard or read at least once in our lives.
To whom it may concern.
Since we do not know the name of the person, we use the word whom. Suppose the recipient of this letter is the Principal of a College, in that case it will be like this:
To the Principal of this College.
Since we know the exact name of the recipient, we will omit ‘whom’ and ‘may concern’ (because we are sure that it does concern a particular person).
So, for an unknown object we use the word whom.
Whom did she marry?
Whom would you like to hire?
My father worked with many authors and one of whom he didn’t like much.
As you can see, whom has a passive nature and this is why in general discussion it is not used as much as who is used.
Who has an active nature and basically this is the difference, but we will understand it better in below.
- Difference between Who and Whom
You already know that who and whom are not the same. You’ve got a basic idea as well, now let us see what the exact difference is.
The difference lies in subject and object or active and passive.
Who is used for subjects or active nouns. So, if it is a name, he, she or they etc. you will use who.
Here is an example of this.
“Hey, how is he?” > “Who, my son?”
“I think she is beautiful.” > “Who are you talking about, that girl in yellow?”
As you can see, we are talking about subjects and we are converting he or she into who.
Now let us get a hang of using whom. Whom is used for objects or passive nouns. So, if the sentence demands you to use him, her or their etc., you can convert it into whom.
“I’d like to dance with her.” > “You’d like to dance with whom?”
“I will hire him again and see if he works fine now.” > “Buddy you do not hire people whom you have fired justifiably.”
- The Rule about It
As you know, ‘it’ is used for animals or things that are not human, the rule is not very certain.
However, it is simple. If ‘it’ is a subject, you will use ‘who’ and if it is the object in a sentence you will use ‘whom’.
Here is an example of how you use ‘it’ as a subject.
“Man, I couldn’t sleep last night. It will keep barking.” > “Who? Your dog?”
And here is an example of how you use ‘it’ as an object.
“I think I’ll have to get it vaccinated.” > “You will have to get whom vaccinated? Your new cat?”
I can bet it is tricky as hell, but I’ve told you pretty simple formulas. For he, she, them and name used as a subject, you use ‘who’.
For him, her, their and name used as an object, you use whom.
It can be a subject as well as an object and needs to be treated as per the case.
I hope that after reading this thorough guide on how to differentiate between who and whom, and how to use both of them, you will not make a mistake whenever you have to use them.