What Is the Difference between Who and Whom?
For those who speak English since early childhood, the decision of a proper word choice is not an issue. Native speakers never come to think about whether they are using the correct word or not. It happens automatically, and the mind immediately generates the right word to use. However, those who learn English as a second language may sometimes make mistakes because for them even such a seemingly simple choice between “who or whom” may raise a lot of questions and misunderstanding.
To help you figure out when to use who and whom, ending the debate on this issue once and for all, we have prepared a few very simple hints. Keep them in mind every time you are pondering whether a sentence should go with Who or with Whom. That’s a reliable way to avoid a mistake and always make the right word choice.
Who vs. Whom. A simple way to get the difference
If you find it difficult to understand when to use who or whom, then you probably don’t quite understand the difference between the subject and object of a sentence. That’s the root of all evil which makes you doubt every time whether you do it right or not.
The subject of a sentence is, in our case, a person who performs an action. That’s why when referring to the subject we should use WHO.
Who is the best soccer player of all time?
Who is going on vacation with Susan?
Who forgot to do homework on Friday?
To answer these questions, you may use people’s names, but to avoid confusion, it is better to do a quick check using pronouns. The answers will be the following.
Diego Maradona (he) is the best soccer player of all time.
George and Sara (they) are going on vacation with Susan.
Ann (she) forgot to do homework on Friday.
The object of a sentence is a person who IS NOT performing an action, but to whom the action is done. So, in this case, a person does not perform any actions directly.
Whom have you seen last night?
Whom would you like to invite to the party?
Whom are you talking about?
Since the object of the sentence is not performing an action personally, then it is necessary to use Whom. Check the answers to see the difference.
I have seen him.
I would like to invite her to the party.
I am talking about his best friend.
However, you may say that to answer these questions you may also use people’s names, so what’s the difference? As we said before, it is better not to make the checking with names but using a pronoun.
If a question can be answered with him/her/his/their/our/their/my, then you should use Whom. If the answer can be only he/she/I/we/they, then you should use Who.
Example: Who/whom ate my lunch?
Correct answer: She ate my lunch.
Incorrect answer: Her ate my lunch.
Since you use She, then the correct choice is Who. There is one more simple trick that will always help you to understand when to use Whom. If you can answer the question saying Him, then use Whom, otherwise, there should be Who. So, if there is an M at the end of the pronoun for a male, there should also be an M at the end of Whom. Thus, it is impossible to use Who. That should help you not to ponder anymore upon the who vs. whom dilemma and always choose the right word.