English Grammar and Exercises for ESL learners.
WHO - WHOM
There is often confusion about the use of who and whom.
Who and whom are pronouns.
Who is a subject pronoun, in the same way as 'he/she/they'.
Whom is an object pronoun, in the same way as 'him/her/them'.
In the sentence "John loves Julie." :
- John is the subject of the verb 'love'
- Julie is the object of
Simple rule : If you can substitute 'he/they', use 'who'.
If you can substitute 'him/them', use 'whom'.
We use 'who' when it is the subject of a verb, that is, when it refers to the person who
takes an action.
- Julie played tennis. Julie is the subject of the
verb 'to play'.
- To find out the name of the player, we ask a
question using 'who'.
Who played tennis? Julie played tennis.
- Who can also be used as the
subject of a non-identifying clause:
- There's Mr. Jones who
bought the house next door.
- There's Mr. Jones who bought the house next door.
- Julie played tennis. Julie is the subject of the verb 'to play'.
We can use 'whom' as the object of a verb, but it is very formal and not often used in spoken English.
- Formal English : Whom did you see?
- Everyday English : Who did
- In formal English, whom is used
after a preposition:
- With whom did you
- In informal conversational English, it is
more usual to ask :
- Who did you play
- Who did you play with?
- With whom did you play?
- Whom is always used when it is preceded by quantifiers such as
all of, both of, few of, many of,
several of, etc.
• He addressed the spectators, most of whom remained seated.
see also: who-whose-whom-that-which-where