PAST PERFECT

Choosing between who whom, either as a relative sầu pronoun or question word, can be tricky for English language learners and native speakers of English alượt thích.

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The quiông xã test in choosing between who and whom is lớn substitute he or him. If he sounds better, who is correct; if him sounds right, whom is correct. That’s because as a pronoun whom is used khổng lồ represent the object of either a verb or a preposition, while who represents the subject of a verb.

He is the consultant whom we contacted for advice. (We contacted him.)To whom was the letter addressed? (The letter was addressed khổng lồ him.)He is the consultant who can answer your question. (He can answer your question.)

Increasingly, native sầu speakers of English are adopting who as the preferred pronoun in informal conversation, even when whom, not who, is correct. This means that whom, when correctly used as an object pronoun, can sound more formal.

In the two examples above sầu, the formality can be toned down by omitting the pronoun in the first, và using the more casual who in the second:He is the consultant we contacted for advice.Who was the letter addressed to?

Who did you go to lớn the movies with? is technically incorrect but very common, even for speakers who are well aware of the mistake.With whom did you go lớn the movies? is correct but in an informal conversation can st& out as having a bit more formal tone.

The he/him test works well unless you’re confronted with a choice between whoever & whomever as in this sentence:You can just talk with whoever/whomever answers the phone.

Even native English speakers get confused by this, because our instinct tells us that whom, not who, should follow the preposition with. However, there is another rule in English which dictates that every verb in a tense needs a subject. Here, whoever is the correct choice, since the verb answers needs a subject.

Striking a more formal, educated tone doesn’t have sầu to be the only reason to use whom as the object pronoun. Sometimes it’s an elegant way khổng lồ emphakích cỡ a distinction between subject và object. If you see someone walking a dog, & the dog is so big & strong that it’s all its owner can bởi vì to lớn keep up with it, you can ask, Who is walking whom?

Filed under: Learning English

47 Comments


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BBoyd October 1st, 20trăng tròn

Yes, whom is correct after the preposition to.


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Morath October 1st, 20đôi mươi

Is this correct?What goes to lớn whom.


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BBoyd November 21st, 2019

Whom is correct here. Why? Because the pronoun I is the subject of the verb saw, and whom is the object of the same verb saw. The relative sầu pronoun whom gives more information about Jacob, the person receiving – not doing – the action see. Use the subject khung who for people doing an action & the object form whom for people receiving the action.


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eddi kewley November 16th, 2019

which is correctThank you for sending Jacob who/whom I saw today


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wikipedia reference November 7th, 2019

Hello, after reading this awesome article iam too glad to lớn chia sẻ my knowledge here with friends.


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BBoyd November 4th, 2019

“Whom” is correct in this context, as it is the object of the preposition “with.” Change “go for shopping” khổng lồ “go shopping” – the form of go + gerund is used for activities with verb names such as “go swimming” and “go skiing.” Keep in mind that while “with whom” is correct, it is also very formal. In informal contexts, native sầu English speakers would often say instead, “Who did you go shopping with?” – technically incorrect but common in informal situations.


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Imran kayani October 29th, 2019

With whom do you go for shopping?Is it correct


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BBoyd April 1st, 2019

Number 2 is correct – try using the he vs. hyên ổn thử nghiệm I describe in the post.


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Anil Gupta October 5th, 2018

Which is the right sentence1. Who does mala see?2. Whom does mala see?


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BBoyd October 2nd, 2018

Thanks for your bình luận, Christian. I agree with you, và your bình luận prompted me khổng lồ revise my description of the effect of using whom in conversation. Inconsistencies in tone can be jarring, but on the other hvà, one can use whom in informal conversation without sounding stuffy.

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Christian September 23rd, 2018

Does using whom make you sound educated? Sure.Absurd? I think that is a little extreme.


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BBoyd August 6th, 2018

Please see my reply of July 13 lớn a very similar question. Thanks!


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Jaông xã Aubele July 13th, 2018

Could you please explain about these sentences in more detail?1. To whom were you talking just now?2. Whom were you talking khổng lồ just now?3. Who were you talking lớn just now?

To my understanding, prepositions are allowed to be placed at the kết thúc of sentences in most situations in English. If the sentence “Who were you talking khổng lồ just now?” is acceptable in informal settings, why is it incorrect to replace the word who with the objective sầu form whom but still leave the preposition at the over of the sentence? Thanks.


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BBoyd July 12th, 2018

Only the first is technically correct. Put the preposition khổng lồ before the object pronoun whom.


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Jack Aubele July 12th, 2018

Are both of these sentences correct?

1. To whom were you talking just now?2. Whom were you talking lớn just now?


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English Learner July 12th, 2018

Are both of these sentences correct?

1. To whom were you talking just now?2. Whom were you talking khổng lồ just now?


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BBoyd July 10th, 2018

The man who is walking down the street is a firefighter. The men who are walking down the street are firefighters. Both of these sentences are correct because who can be either singular or plural depending on the word khổng lồ which it refers.


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BBoyd July 2nd, 2018

I agree that tone (formal/informal) is part of style, và native sầu English speakers often choose between who & whom based on choice of tone, but vestiges of grammar remain: if in trying khổng lồ sound formal, someone says “Whom is at the door?,” most people would perceive that as both awkward style a mistake in grammar.


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Michael Byrne July 2nd, 2018

Who or whom is not a test of correct English but merely a stylistic choice.


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BBoyd June 28th, 2018

Whose is the possessive khung, as in: Whose books are these? or Whose are these?


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BBoyd May 14th, 2018

Whom is correct here, not who. In the subordinate clause “a student whom some consider brilliant,” some is the subject, consider is the verb, and whom is the object of the verb. Substituting personal pronouns for the relative pronouns is perhaps an easier way of choosing between who whom. Which sounds better khổng lồ you: some consider her brilliant, or some consider she brilliant? The reason the first of these two sounds better is because the object form (her/whom) is correct here, not the subject form (she/who).


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nia May 14th, 2018

sorry what is this answerThe perplexing math problem was solved by a student who/whom some consider brilliant.

which one


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BBoyd April 30th, 2018

The second version is the correct one. Whom is the object of the verb may know (you is the subject). If you rephrase it in standard subject/verb/object word order, it’s easier to see why the object relative sầu pronoun whom is correct here: you may know them (object pronoun), not you may know they (subject pronoun).


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Tracy April 30th, 2018

Is it: the owners, Mel và Fran, who you may knowOrthe owners, Mel and Fran, whom you may know


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BBoyd March 19th, 2018

“Who’s who,” the contraction of “Who is who,” is actually technically correct. It’s true that the second “who” follows the verb, but position before or after the verb is not the real chạy thử of whether to use the subject pronoun “who” or the object pronoun “whom.” When a noun or pronoun after the verb does not receive sầu the action of the verb but instead complements the subject of the verb, either by describing, renaming, or mirroring the subject, we Điện thoại tư vấn the verb a linking or copula verb (“be” is the most comtháng example), & we use the subject pronoun, instead of the object pronoun, after the verb. A subject pronoun that follows a verb is called, in grammar, a subject complement or a predicative complement. In the phrase “who’s who,” the first “who” is the subject of the verb, & the second “who” is the subject complement, referring baông chồng khổng lồ & mirroring the subject.


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A-Wall March 19th, 2018

Who is whom? is thus technically correct, if I’m following the logic phối out above.But if you’re wanting lớn know if someone is important,we consult a ‘Who’s who’ almanac, yes?I guess that colloquial English is winning this one, for now.


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BBoyd February 18th, 2018

Technically “whom” is correct here, because “whom” is the object pronoun và “whom” is the object of the verb ask. However, in colloquial English, “whom” is being used more & more as a marker of formality than as a marker of the objective case, which means that in everyday conversation “whom” is becoming rarer even when it is technically correct as it is here. Thanks for your question!


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Dianne February 17th, 2018

Is it I don’t know whom lớn ask. Or I don’t know who khổng lồ ask


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BBoyd January 4th, 2017

Thanks for your bình luận. “Who” is the subject pronoun, & “whom” the object pronoun, so “whom” is definitely the correct khung lớn use as the object of the preposition “with.” In a question, the preposition should also come first, as in “With whom did you go to lớn the opera?”. Becoming a fluent English speaker sometimes entails more than just knowing what is correct; it also requires an understanding of how native sầu speakers can vary their tone from formal khổng lồ informal through their choice of size.


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Ambrogio December 9th, năm nhâm thìn

Whom did you go to the holidays with!!!!! The use of relative sầu pronoun with is wrong !!!!


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Horatio January 4th, năm trước

“In ordinary conversation, generally speaking, the answer is you’re right to be wrong – use who.”

Sorry, I couldn’t disagree with you more. We must strive lớn speak correctly instead of condoning & encouraging incorrect speech.


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