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Hello, English learners!

In today’s post we’ll talk about the rules of usage who/whoever and whom/whomever. The grammar is rather simple, but a lot of people find it difficult. We hope this article helps you.

What is it?

Who:

1) [interrogative pronoun] what or which person or people who is that woman?

2) [relative pronoun] used to introduce a clause giving further information about a person or people previously mentioned.

Whom:

Whom is used in formal or written English instead of `who’ when it is the object of a verb or preposition.

1) You use whom in questions when you ask about the name or identity of a person or group of people.

2) You use whom after certain words, especially verbs and adjectives, to introduce a clause where you talk about the name or identity of a person or a group of people.

3) You use whom at the beginning of a relative clause when specifying the person or group of people you are talking about or when giving more information about them.

Source: Oxford Dictionary.

Who or Whom?

Use he/him to decide which word (who or whom) to put. He => who, him => whom. For example:

1. Who broke the vase?

  • He broke the vase. Therefore, we use who in the first sentence.

2. Whom should I go with?

  • I should go with him. Therefore, use whom.

3. Clare knows who the winner is already.

  • This sentence contains two clauses: “Clare knows” and “Who the winner is already”. We are interested in the second (subordinate) clause because it contains the who/whom. Try to change who/whom to he/him: He is the winner already. Therefore, who is correct.

4. We want to know on whom the prank was pulled.

  • Again, this sentence contains two clauses. We are always interested in subordinate one (that contains whom): “on whom the prank was pulled”. Try to remove who/whom and put he/him instead: “The prank was pulled on him”. That is why we use whom in this case.

Whoever or whomever?

This one is a little bit more difficult. But the rule is almost the same. You should split the sentence into clauses. Find the clause with whoever/whomever. And try to change it using he/him instead.

For better understanding have a look at the following examples.

1. Whoever wins the lottery will become a millionaire.

  • He wins the lottery. He will become a millionaire.

2. Whomever you elect will serve a four-year term.

  • You elect him. He will serve a four-year term.

3. But: Whoever is elected will serve a four-year term.

  • He is elected. He will serve a four-year term.

4. Give it to whoever asks for it first

  • Give it to him. He asks for it first.

5. I will work on the project with whomever you suggest.

  • I’ll work on the project with him. You suggest him.

The rule of a thumb is that he/he = whoever, and he/him = whomever.

One more example:

6. Give the package to any person who comes to the door.

  • To understand this well, convert the whomever into any person who: Give the package to any person who comes to the door.

What people think

Speaking as a teacher, I get irritated when I see questions like this in an examination. I feel that it is a trick question. I hope it was not in an exam for those learning English as a Second language.

It is grammatically correct to say whomever but I doubt is one in a thousand would say it. Most people would say whoever.

There is an old joke passed around by teachers of grammar. Saint Peter in heaven heard a knock on the door. “Whose there?” he asked. “It is I,” was the reply. “Heck!” said Saint Peter. “Another one of those damn grammar teachers.”

Grammatically, it is correct to say, “It is I.” But not one in a thousand says it. Most say, “It’s me.”

Link to the discussion: http://www.englishforums.com/English/WhoeverVsWhomever/cxcp/post.htm

On the Internet

Check out the following resources:

  1. Forum discussion at English Forums
  2. Whoever vs. Whomever at GrammarBook.com
  3. Who vs. Whom at GrammarBook.com
  4. Quizzes: #1, #2, #3

Thanks for visiting our blog. Good luck and take care!

English Tek

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