Dictionary.com

Whom: Is This Rare Pronoun Really Dead?

question

To whom it may concern:

Over the past 200 years written use of the pronoun whom has declined by half, and half again over the last 50. It makes sense. In the colloquial world of email and texting, thinking about the correct usage of whom can just slow writers down. The word can make sentences sound more formal, but if used incorrectly whom makes a speaker sound insincere when they’re trying to sound smart. So, why not delete whom from the dictionary entirely? Because for all its flaws, whom might still have something to say.

(What words might be removed from the dictionary? Find out here.)

Let’s start with the correct usage. Whom is a pronoun that refers to a person not present in the conversation. Technically, ‘whom’ is the objective-case pronoun of the subjective-case pronoun ‘who,’ where ’whom’ refers to the object of a sentence and ‘who’ refers to the subject. It’s the difference between the accusative form, ‘whom’ and the nominative form, ‘who.’

So, you’re at a party and you run into someone you think you recognize, you say “Hello, who are you again?” this is perfectly correct. If the person is right in front of you, they are ‘who’ because you are speaking with them directly. Whom comes into the conversation when you realize that the person you’re talking to didn’t come to the party alone. “Oh, I see you’re holding four hats there. With whom did you come?” or you might say, “Hey, you had to be invited to this party. Of whom are you a guest?” (You could say “whom are you the guest of?” but that would be ending the sentence with a preposition and that’s a whole different blog post).

In this way, whom can be about mystery. The person/people about whom you’re asking are far off, and their representative pronoun adds a layer of distance.

In the case of unknown identities, this aspect of whom can turn a business letter into a detective story. “To whom it may concern” (the standard salutation that replaces ‘Dear,’ at the beginning of formal letters) could be addressing anyone: the CEO of a company or the hotdog vendor that found the letter on the street. In other words, whom makes space for writers and speakers to address that which is absent or unknown, a sort of grammatical spyglass through which to imagine the hidden figure just around the corner.

Do you think whom is worth keeping? Tell us what you think.

359 Comments

  1. M. S. -  May 11, 2014 - 10:39 am

    My native language is not english. I was looking up the meaning of calling someone a “this”. The search landed me on this blog. Does anyone has an input on the subject? I would like to know if it was proper from someone who knows me well and my name calling me a “this”. As in.. “When you get old THIS -pointing at me- will take care of you”
    Thank you :)

    Reply
    • PL -  June 12, 2014 - 2:27 am

      I am English. Here, I do not think that is a very nice way to refer to someone. It is treating a person as an object. I find it a bit de-humanising. You might point out a drug addict in the street and tell your kid “Watch out, “this” is what you could become if you do drugs”, for example. I think Americans use it more and don’t have the same problems with it.

      As another example, I have heard people comment on members of the opposite sex by saying, “That’s nice”, which I think demonstrates the use of this or that to refer to people makes them a bit of an object.

      Just my point of view

      Reply
    • Bunlizlaw -  July 18, 2014 - 1:05 pm

      As long as the word ‘whom’ still serves its purpose then it should be retained in the English lexicon. I often use the word and as much as I know, I use it correctly.

      Reply
  2. Lovey -  April 30, 2014 - 4:55 am

    Imagine I am in a beach and writing a letter to my friend. How do I write that I visit beach every evenings.” I go to beach every evening ” is it right?

    Reply
    • Owen Jackson -  May 26, 2014 - 2:34 pm

      You missed out “the”. It should be “I go to the beach every evening”.

      Reply
  3. S5 -  April 29, 2014 - 6:14 pm

    That´s the boy ___ I met at the party!

    ___? who? whom? that?

    How do I use your methods to find the answer?

    Reply
    • S5 -  April 29, 2014 - 6:16 pm

      Who is the boy you met at the party? He is! He = Who?

      Reply
  4. Georgio -  March 24, 2014 - 11:05 am

    Oh Sauncie. You had me up to your use of “irregardless”. That’s not a word. If it was, it would break down to “without without regard”. I’ve noticed throughout my 47 years as a hick from Texas that people say that when they’re trying to appear intelligent. And then there’s the “supposably” that those koo-koo kids in Oklahoma like to say. And don’t get ME started on Arkansas…

    Reply
  5. Sauncie -  March 24, 2014 - 10:19 am

    Boy-oh-boy, some of you people really have too much time on your hands. (“That’s the pot calling the kettle black.”) My parents are German immigrants and I hated being teased as a child for their accents and so I went out of my way to learn to speak clearly and precisely. This topic is interesting to me. Here’s the deal with “whom:” If you ask a question and you can answer it with “him” instead of “he,” then whom is the correct word irregardless of male or female, i.e. “I came with him” is the correct response to: “With whom did you come.” You wouldn’t say, “I came with he.” This has always worked for me and I don’t have to remember prepositions….bla-bla-bla. Yes, of course we should keep whom in our language! Just because there are lazy dummies out there that don’t give a rat’s hoot about our language, doesn’t mean those of us that do want to speak the English language correctly should stop caring. I’m still pissed about “Ebonics” and Spanish as this country’s second language because they’re either too stupid or lazy to learn this country’s language. They have no respect for the blood spilt on this land by our fore-fathers who ALL learned to speak English. [DON'T GET ME STARTED!!]

    Reply
    • DL -  April 29, 2014 - 5:15 am

      “Irregardless” of the grammatical issues in your reply – I still don’t understand a word you’re saying. Wouldn’t your rule require knowing the answer to the question before you asked it? (“If the answer is I came with him then use whom”?) Also, in what instance would the answer not be “I came wiith him”? Perhaps, I came with her or I came with it?

      I always understood the usage to be simply “used when refering to an unknown person or persons”.

      Reply
  6. Harvey Wachtel -  March 24, 2014 - 6:37 am

    The thing that makes the determination of the case for “who” more difficult than that of other personal pronouns like “he” is the fact that it can be used as a relative pronoun. When “who” is the subject of a dependent clause that is the object of the independent clause, it’s easy to use “whom” inappropriately, as in “I want to thank whoever put the bomp in the bomp-de-bomp-de-bomp”.

    I think the confusion that this has caused (exacerbated by the tendency of traditional grammarians to parse sentences insisting that individual pronouns in phrases, rather than the phrases in their entirety, are objects or whatever of sentences, as in “I don’t like him riding the subway alone at night”) is a large part of the reason people have been shying away from “whom”.

    Reply
  7. Emily -  March 23, 2014 - 11:10 pm

    I’m good with keeping whom. And I do use it when appropriate. I always go with the “if it follows a preposition” rule personally. The lost word that bugs me more nowadays is than. Then is not the same as than, but is way too often incorrectly substituted. I cringe every time I see “More often then not” or “She was shorter then him”. You should add an article on the proper use of than.

    Reply
  8. Patricia -  March 23, 2014 - 6:36 pm

    The only reason why I sometimes use “whom” instead of “who” without deliberating over it to the extent that it slows down my conversation is because French is really particular about not having prepositions at the end of the sentence. As a result, I’m used to translating and thinking:

    to whom
    about whom
    for whom

    etc, with prepositions in the middle of the sentence and “whom,” if necessary, right after. If you repeat a phrase often enough, it’ll pop into your brain whenever the situation is relevant.

    Reply
  9. Shiloh -  March 23, 2014 - 10:29 am

    I don’t think “whom” is dying because of laziness. I think in part it is a reflection of the cultural influence on language. In Ohio and other mid-west regions, a grammatical tendency is to move the preposition to the end of a sentence. For example, people in Cincinnati, Ohio would never say “to whom are you speaking?” Most people in that area tend to move prepositions to the end of the sentence, so it sounds more like this “who are you talking to? There, who is correct because its place is still in the subject part of the sentence. Whom is rarely used then in that part of the state because the prepositions all tend to appear at the end of the sentence and the “object” of the preposition is moved to the subject place of the sentence. It’s the way Cincinnati speakers order their sentence. And it’s completely about regional usage.

    Reply
    • Riley -  August 20, 2014 - 10:35 am

      It may be regional dialect to say “who are you talking to,” but it is still improper grammar. Both the preposition at the end of the sentence and the use of who instead of whom are improper.

      As for the word whom, keep it in our vocabularies! It has a distinct and specific use.

      Reply
  10. FmMaj9 -  March 23, 2014 - 9:51 am

    The article about Who and Whom is confusing and poorly explained. “Who” is for the SUBJECT of a sentence, which includes sentences with intransitive verbs (verbs that have no object) such as “to be”: “Who are you?”
    “Whom” is always an OBJECT of a sentence, whether it be direct, indirect or a prepositional phrase. “You came WITH whom?” “Whom are YOU trying to kid?” “You gave IT to whom?” “Whom did HE tell?”
    This stuff about mystery and a person not present is RIDICULOUS AND WRONG.

    Reply
  11. blood -  March 23, 2014 - 7:34 am

    i think it should people should remember grammar

    Reply
  12. Anonymous -  March 23, 2014 - 6:35 am

    To James A.C. III or whomever it may concern, (Sorry, had to)

    I am fairly sure “they” can now be used as a pronoun which doesn’t specify gender. The other option being “he or she” but “they” is a lot more concise.

    Reply
  13. Robert A. Branch -  March 23, 2014 - 2:17 am

    I think “whom” definitely should (and MUST) be kept. While I understand the reasoning behind standardization, there are many things about human language that Homo sapien simply doesn’t understand. Basically, I don’t think it’s wise to start changing something you never fully understood to begin with. Did you know Homo sapien has only had written language for about 10,000 years? While numbers form the “universal language,” words form the language of life. To get to the point: there’s too many things that too many people still misunderstand, causing unnecessary conflict and dissension, and taking a closer look at human language in its more literal sense can help with that. Humanity will lose that opportunity if it allows the word to change with the times, instead of judging the times with the word as was meant.

    Reply
    • Birdie -  May 7, 2014 - 12:09 pm

      Hello Mr. Branch,

      I feel compelled to speak out!

      That was your opinion,
      and I’m sticking to it!
      So beautifully expressed and a great pleasure to read.
      Thank you.
      Sincerely,
      Birdie

      Reply
  14. Anthony Cusumano -  March 22, 2014 - 8:29 pm

    I am an 8th grade student, and I pride myself in how I often use proper grammar. And I take Latin as my school language, so it helps to understand the meaning of certain english grammar rules. And I have been using the word “whom” in my common day dialogue for the past couple of years now. Sometimes I will even correct friends for saying “who” instead of “whom” and they get mad at me. But I have always prided myself in having very proper grammar. And the part where the Latin comes in is that when I learned about Nominative and Accusative cases I realized why to use “whom” versus “who”. And now that I have read this, I am glad to know I have been using “whom” correctly, and I don’t just sound stupid when I use it in a sentence.

    Reply
    • Peter -  April 18, 2014 - 6:59 am

      yes, absolutely the same: I’m in British year 11 (American ’10th grade’, I beliveve) and I introduced my friend to ‘whom’ and now we correct people together. It’s great fun, and annoys people greatly.

      Reply
  15. Richard Shewmaker -  March 22, 2014 - 8:08 pm

    Only dying in the realm of the ignorant. I for one still battle the split infinitive when I can and jump on “try and” every time it rears its “whaaa?” head.

    Reply
  16. Mike Hale -  March 22, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    What’s with this location of the individual having ANYTHING to do with the who-whom question? The simple memory aid is, “Who hit whom?” (Memorize that.) Who is the doer* of the action and whom is everything else. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter who is present and who is in another room, not at the event, or out-of-state.

    If the word follows a preposition or verb, use WHOM. So, first go to the verb and see where the word falls in relation to that. Before or after? The doer or the done-to? So where does the location of the person about whom you are speaking come into play? (Or is it “Come in to play?”—lol) I do not think it comes in to the question at all.

    *–Remember the linking verb “to be” is not an action. Thus, before and after the verb is all “who”.

    Reply
  17. Zippi -  March 22, 2014 - 10:43 am

    I was told that I am archaic, because I use “whom.”
    “So, you’re at a party and you run into someone you think you recognize…” Something is missing, there, methinks.

    Reply
  18. Dethanos -  March 22, 2014 - 9:08 am

    The only people using whom are those who believe adherence to archaic rules somehow elevates them above the masses.

    Reply
  19. O.Yeah -  March 22, 2014 - 6:03 am

    I’m not sure I believe you. According to your party example, I should say
    “Whom came with you?” because that person is not in front of me. The rules can’t include both presence and objective vs. nominative case, because sometimes they disagree!

    Reply
    • Peter -  April 18, 2014 - 5:18 am

      yeah, I was thinking the exact same – imagine the person _whom_ you were talking to then leaves, you turn round to your friend and say ‘whom was that?’… no…

      Reply
  20. Bill -  March 21, 2014 - 4:49 pm

    I like pizza.

    Reply
  21. Lavaun in Denver -  March 21, 2014 - 3:05 pm

    Sorry to run into the paranoid right even in a discussion about the use of the proper pronoun!!! “Word Nazis” like me are neither liberal or conservative, except in trying to conserve the beautiful English language. Neither “whom”, “him”, or “her” — all the direct or indirect object in a sentence (rather than “who”, “he”, and “she”, which are pronouns in the subject of a sentence or clause) are outmoded. When people use the subject form of a pronoun instead of the correct object form, they sound like uneducated ignoramuses trying to sound cultured. e.g., “They donated this to he and I,” instead of “They donated this to him and me.” Likewise, “Who did you hit?” should be “Whom did you hit?” Back in the day, teachers of the 5th & 6th grades required students to parse sentence (we actually drew diagrams to clarify subject, verb, object–if any, phrases with participles or prepositions, subordinate clauses, etc.). This helped us immensely to understand immediately what form of a pronoun we should use. Now, students are allowed to write almost anything and, as long as it is a semi-coherent sentence, the teacher will let it pass.

    Reply
  22. Vince -  March 21, 2014 - 8:17 am

    A lot of people in the comments seem immensely confused. Some seem to think this article is arguing that “whom” should be taken out of the dictionary, which is not the case at all. It’s simply asking if anyone actually uses it anymore. There are still plenty of words in the dictionary that no one uses in every day speech. For example, does anyone still use the word “cleave” to mean “stick together?” Of course not, but people used to, so that’s why it’s still in the dictionary. The point of this article is not to argue for the removal of “whom” from the dictionary, but whether the word is even used today.

    Anyway, English is no longer a case based language as it was prior to the Norman Conquest. We have almost no cases for our verbs and nouns any more. Why? We don’t need them! All we need is word order to make sense of things, not cases. So why are we holding on to “whom” so dearly? It’s merely the accusative case of “who.” It’s outdated, unnecessary and serves only to make the speaker sound pretentious by appealing to arcane rules of grammar. That said, there’s no reason not to know “whom” and how it’s used. It comes up all the time in scholarly work and older writing, so it’s helpful to know how the word works. But is it a dead word in the practical, everyday sense? Absolutely.

    Reply
  23. Jay -  March 21, 2014 - 7:47 am

    I was about to shout IT’S WHO, NOT WHOM when I saw the headline “Whom is dying?” before realising that it was actually referring to the word whom. I clearly need some sleep.

    Reply
  24. C. W. Sims -  March 21, 2014 - 6:59 am

    Let’s remove the word syzygy from the dictionary. I’m 76 years old, and this is the very first time I’ve used it.

    Reply
  25. C. W. Sims -  March 21, 2014 - 6:43 am

    Aw contrary, Mark Baker. Sometimes bad grammar simply comes from ignorance. Perhaps you aren’t really paranoid. Maybe the Marxists are after you.

    Reply
  26. stephenf -  March 20, 2014 - 11:44 pm

    What the crap?

    Seriously, you have got to be kidding me. Who vets these articles?

    What does it have to do with whether a person is “there” or not? It’s objective case versus subjective case. Period. This is complicated only by whether the “who/whom” begins certain other kinds of phrases or clauses:

    I gave the paper to whoever was at the front gate. (“Whoever” is the subject of “was” in the noun clause that functions in total as the object of the preposition; “whoever” is, by itself, not an object.)

    But: I gave the paper to whom it belonged.

    Or: I gave the paper to the person who asked for it. (Another noun clause, with “who” as the subject of the verb “asked.”)

    You must talk to her. But: You must talk to “she who must be obeyed.” Simple object versus noun clause functioning in total as object.

    So yeah, the clauses can get a little esoteric. But for God’s sake, it has nothing to do with physical presence. What the hell was _that_?!

    Reply
  27. Leslie -  March 20, 2014 - 4:39 pm

    I agree with BN – whomever that person might be!

    Reply
  28. Krista -  March 20, 2014 - 4:08 pm

    One thing I HATE is hearing incorrect grammar. It literally hurts my ears….such as, “there’s” a lot of things… I “seen” the car… “from who” is the package? I hear incorrect grammar from newscasters and journalists now too. I use “whom” all the time and have never had a problem with correct usage. I also think that simply relaxing the grammar of a language, speaking incorrectly, is part of a deteriorating culture, so I would prefer to keep the rules.

    Reply
  29. James A. C. III -  March 20, 2014 - 11:17 am

    Where’s the blog about proper noun-pronoun agreement?

    “The word can make sentences sound more formal, but if used incorrectly whom makes a SPEAKER sound insincere when THEY’RE trying to sound smart.”

    Boom. Roasted.

    Reply
  30. Mark Baker -  March 20, 2014 - 9:29 am

    The “Word Nazis” in the current administration (FLOTUS, for one) wants to “ban” the word “bossy”, because of the negative feelings that it evokes. Should the phrase “dumbing down” be banned, as well? When Hillary Clinton coined the phrase “vast, Right-wing conspiracy” back in the nineties, she was telling us what the Liberal establishment’s true intentions were. Obamacare, extra-Constitutional, executive orders, Common Core’s non-standards — how “vast” do you want? Eliminating (essentially banning) words from the dictionary, is just one of the ways these Marxist’s use, to stop dissent of any kind. One might think that these comments don’t have anything to do with dropping the word “whom” from it’s legitimate usage. I would beg you all to think again!!

    Reply
  31. odj -  March 20, 2014 - 8:26 am

    You can’t remove a word from a language or dictionary; but I see whom becoming more archaic since it’s hard to distinguish whether we actually know someone or not.

    Reply
  32. Amaigus -  March 20, 2014 - 7:04 am

    I thought I knew the ins and outs of whom, but the presence condition surprised me. It definitely sounds right to my ear.

    I think the question of striking whom pertains not to the dictionary but to these grammar nerds who want to ding people when they veer from ‘correct’ usage. I like to point out that language doesn’t come from grammatical authorities, it comes from usage. If a significant body of people are using words in a certain way, it is correct in my view, at least within that colloquial frame.

    English standardization has done a lot of harm, like when they decided that words like ‘knight’ must use the same spelling even when the sound altered from the direct pronunciation.

    Queen of England: I think it’s “I wonder who wrote the article?” Not “whom” in that case. Not sure if you were being facetious. The author was actually a little unclear that there are two distinct conditions that must be satisfied. Whom is the objective pronoun AND the person must not be present.

    Reply
  33. Sum Yee -  March 20, 2014 - 2:48 am

    We hate it

    Reply
  34. Marc H -  March 20, 2014 - 1:09 am

    I am also fighting a losing battle, but I always use ‘whom’ in business correspondence and, because I was raised that way, when I speak (although when I speak I will say, “Whom are you giving that to?”. The drop-off rule is simple to understand, and it’s amazing now how many non-native speakers are not being taught who/whom in English classes. I think it’s a sad indicator of how lazy we have become. On another note, I will not say “that is I” but, when writing, will say, “it was I who suggested that you drop by our office.” I don’t think that there is any excuse for being lazy. When you study a foreign language you really see how your own works. In Russian, you have to say, “It is I” and if you say the accusative “It is me” even the most uneducated person will look at you as if you were a Martian.

    Reply
  35. Juan Santiago -  March 19, 2014 - 7:39 pm

    Whom cares?

    Reply
  36. Geoff -  March 19, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    Think of it in a 5-case system and it’s easy –

    Nominative and Vocative: Who (“Who are you?”)
    Accusative: Whom (“To whom did you throw the ball?”)
    Dative: Whom (“With whom did you come?”)
    Genitive: Whom (“Of whom are you a guest?”)

    Keep it or don’t keep it; but use it correctly if you please.

    Good work, OP.

    Reply
  37. B N -  March 19, 2014 - 4:00 pm

    This is a good article to explain how to use “whom” properly, but the question “should we keep it or ditch it” is silly. What do you mean, ditch it? Start publishing dictionaries without the word “whom” in them? I can’t begin to guess how many words in the English language are used very rarely, but that doesn’t mean we should strike them from the record. Keep such words in all the dictionaries and whether or not people want to learn and use rare words is up to them.

    I think a bigger problem is many people are trying to sound smart by saying “myself” instead of “me” but they’re doing it wrong. Being a grammar-loving dork, this is like nails on a chalkboard to me… Author, if you haven’t done so already, please write a blog about the proper use of “myself!”

    Reply
  38. Scott Bailey -  March 19, 2014 - 2:17 pm

    Being a high school English teacher, I have often taught the difference between “who” and “whom,” mostly in vain. I am, however, having a more and more difficult time penalizing a student for writing a sentence such as “Who are you going to invite to your party?” as opposed to the correct, “Whom are you going to invite to your party?” I still am going to go after students who misuse “literally” and “infer” when they mean “imply,” but I am seriously thinking of not making a big deal over the use of “who” instead of “whom.” They should learn the difference between the two, and they should learn not to write sentences such as “To whom are you going to give that pizza to?” But, I am getting a bit winded marking them down for merely using “who” when “whom” is correct. The English language, like everything else, is evolving and the “m” in “whom” will soon be a vestigial letter, the equivalent to our missing tails.

    Reply
  39. Steffanie -  March 19, 2014 - 1:54 pm

    Yes, keep whom in the dictionary. It does not have to be used a lot to be meaningful. There still is a place for it.

    Reply
  40. D.V. Brown -  March 19, 2014 - 1:25 pm

    I had a training class in the late 90s by a company named The Grammar Group. Here is the tip they offered on how to remember when to use who vs. whom:

    If you can answer the question using “he” or “she,” then you use who. Ex: “Who gave you that ugly sweater?” Answer: “He/she gave me this ugly sweater.

    If you can answer the question using “him” or “her,” then you use whom. Ex: “You gave that ugly sweater to whom?” Answer: “I gave the ugly sweater to him/her.”

    Never had a problem using the words in their proper context since. I probably wouldn’t have had a problem in the first place if it could have been presented to me in such a simple way.

    I don’t think we should retire words/grammar just because our culture is becoming lazy and crude.

    This is completely unrelated, but I’m going to scream if I have to hear one more parent or child at my kids’ school say “I seen” instead of “I saw.” Just had to get that off my chest.

    Reply
  41. Sean Martin -  March 19, 2014 - 1:17 pm

    I’d personally be upset if ‘whom’ were removed from the language. I make a point in using it correctly, to exhibit my prowess. Heh, I kid, but seriously.

    I suppose we’ll always have For Who The Bell Tolls … Whom, for WHOM the Bell Tolls … sorry.

    Anyway, I’m more concerned about the death of subjunctive mood.

    Reply
  42. Queen of England -  March 19, 2014 - 12:19 pm

    I wonder whom wrote this article?

    Reply
  43. Marty K -  March 19, 2014 - 11:51 am

    in re Zeffur (3/17/14) Lets reduc evrthin n simpl it so talk short n effctv. Who cares abt beuty n form – im to laze. Tnx

    Reply
  44. Robert Tendy -  March 19, 2014 - 9:33 am

    I’m still waiting for them to bring back “cankedort.”

    Reply
  45. George Spiggott -  March 19, 2014 - 8:52 am

    Should a whoddunit mystery actually be a whomdunnit?

    Reply
  46. Wendy -  March 19, 2014 - 7:09 am

    “Use who when you would use he; use whom when you would use him”

    THANK YOU, Anonymous!!! That’s the simplest explanation I have ever seen! I know what a subject and an object are, but I don’t really want to have to dissect my sentence as I’m speaking. This, I can remember. I hope.

    Reply
  47. Swagg Whom Diddly -  March 19, 2014 - 6:02 am

    i Tink tere shoald onlee bee 5 woerds in teh engrish dictonari:

    Swag
    #420BlazeIt
    Swog
    Sex
    an
    YOLO!

    Reply
  48. K. Holt -  March 19, 2014 - 4:41 am

    This is the first time I have visited Dictionary.com and read an article like this. I am impressed and will return often. This article and some of the comments have corrected me and helped me feel more confident in speaking. So in this, and so many other things in our society today, I say do not delete or “dumb down” but teach, teach, teach.

    Reply
  49. Diana -  March 18, 2014 - 6:11 pm

    To me, it’s just easiest to remember that ‘whom’ is used when it’s the object of a preposition. If one learns the way to spot a prepositional phrase (and that isn’t difficult), the rest is as easy as … well, it’s easy! Some examples:
    to whom
    of whom
    about whom
    in whom
    concerning whom
    obliging whom
    maintaining whom

    Reply
  50. vincent -  March 18, 2014 - 2:44 pm

    all i can say is that in elementary and high school, I honestly don’t think we ever covered it lol

    Reply
  51. Chris -  March 18, 2014 - 2:27 pm

    There are much more words disappearing now days

    Reply
  52. FedTotallyUp -  March 18, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    How about those ebonics?

    Reply
  53. John Wilson -  March 18, 2014 - 11:45 am

    All I can say is that about fifty years ago, Mrs. Harrison required that our eighth grade class memorize the 1936 edition of the “Plain English Handbook,” and during that year and the next four years of my secondary schooling, the Mrs. Gates, Cook, Billingsley and McGuire drilled, drilled, drilled and drilled us again to test our retention of the grammar and useage rules in that dear handbook. At my advanced age I can’t imagine that I am capable of NOT using “who” and “whom” correctly – or at least as the handbook prescribed. (I have no idea what useage is deemed correct today – nor am I particularly interested.) I still have my copy so if I’m ever uncertain, it is always near to hand.

    Reply
  54. Alex -  March 18, 2014 - 9:14 am

    The English language is dying a slow death, not just the use of “whom.” It should be kept in our vocabulary.

    Reply
  55. Jamie -  March 18, 2014 - 9:13 am

    I disagree with the given focused usage of “whom” (refers to one not involved in the conversation). Would it not be correct to say, “You are he about whom we were talking” (although it sounds awkward and there are other ways to phrase it)?
    In every one of your examples, “whom” is part of a prepositional phrase (which, if English is similar to Russian or German, is the accusative case). Even with “To whom it may concern,” “whom” is in the accusative case because it is the attached to “to.”

    My vote is to keep “whom” in the dictionary. It doesn’t have flaws, lazy people do.

    Reply
  56. Aki -  March 18, 2014 - 8:53 am

    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of words in the English language that are so rarely used. But that doesn’t mean that they cannot be used or that we should get rid of them. I personally use “whom” as a writer, and it really isn’t difficult to understand the difference between them. We live in a world today where misuse is becoming ‘common sense,’ and we should not give in to that stupidity; rather, we should keep our language how it is and perhaps actually teach people to use it correctly?

    Reply
  57. Al Britto -  March 18, 2014 - 7:54 am

    From Wikipedia’s article on the 4th Earl of Sandwich:

    “In February 1748 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, retaining this post until June 1751. By 1751 Newcastle, who had previously admired Sandwich for his forthright and hardline views, had increasingly begun to distrust him and his relationship with The Duke of Bedford WHO Newcastle regarded as a rival. Newcastle engineered the dismissal of both of them, by sacking Sandwich. Bedford resigned in protest, as Newcastle had calculated, allowing him to replace them with men he considered more loyal personally to him.”

    Shouldn’t it be WHOM? Sure, “whom” is in Intensive Care Unit.

    Reply
  58. Al Britto -  March 18, 2014 - 7:49 am

    I took this excerpt from Wikipedia’s article on John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

    “In February 1748 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, retaining this post until June 1751. By 1751 Newcastle, who had previously admired Sandwich for his forthright and hardline views, had increasingly begun to distrust him and his relationship with The Duke of Bedford who Newcastle regarded as a rival. Newcastle engineered the dismissal of both of them, by sacking Sandwich. Bedford resigned in protest, as Newcastle had calculated, allowing him to replace them with men he considered more loyal personally to him.”

    So, there you see “Bedford WHO Newcastle regarded as a rival”. Shouldn’t it be WHOM?

    Reply
  59. Claudette Voelkel -  March 18, 2014 - 5:51 am

    Interestingly enough I was attempting to write a legal letter today, and there were five different circumstances requiring the proper usage of this word. I find it extremely annoying that it seems to be acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. Must we totally annihilate the English language to conform to spell check? Is there an end? I hope there remains to be an occasional situation requiring an actual human brain.

    Reply
  60. a normal person like you -  March 18, 2014 - 3:11 am

    “Whom” shall stay in the english language because taking it out would just show you laziness .

    Reply
  61. Angina Pectoris -  March 17, 2014 - 10:36 pm

    I have a better idea. Instead of removing “whom” from the dictionary, we ought to remove the people who use “whom” incorrectly. Then for Whom the Bell Tolls would be an appropriate tribute.

    Reply
  62. MICHAEL MIHAJLOVIC -  March 17, 2014 - 8:18 pm

    Why should we deplete the English language of a perfectly correct and integral part of speech regardless of the decline in usage. those who do not use it are either negligent or ignorant.

    Reply
  63. dr worm -  March 17, 2014 - 7:21 pm

    I don’t believe anyone is thinking about dropping “whom” from a serious dictionary! How would the future readers look up the word when they come across it in books?

    Reply
  64. Johnson -  March 17, 2014 - 5:14 pm

    Technically, shouldn’t it be “Ask not wham the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”. “Wham” is the obsolete dative form of who. Nobody misses it a bit. Let “whom” die out also as there is no loss of understanding.

    Reply
  65. zeffur -  March 17, 2014 - 5:10 pm

    Ditch whom. We should always strive to simplify life whenever we can. No one ‘normal’ speaks in old English anymore. Shockingly, we aren’t at a loss in our ability to communicate because of having ditched many phrases from old English.

    Who is shorter & certainly sufficient for effective communication. If I say “Who are you referring to” or “To whom are you referring”, there is no significant advantage to the recipient of my message. Who cares if I’m referring to someone present or absent?? The message recipient certainly isn’t confused by what I am asking. If direct English is simplier, faster, & just as clear as formal English, then also ditch the rule that says we can’t end a sentence with a preposition. I seriously doubt most people will care if the rule is eliminated. Once again, it simply just makes communicating ‘properly’ more difficult for people.

    And while you are at it—eliminate the phrase “Believe you me…” from the entire English language! :) I once had an English teacher who spoke like that. How superfluous. She could have more easily said “Believe me.” and left “you” understood, as is often done in English.

    Reply
  66. James -  March 17, 2014 - 4:41 pm

    I think that it should absolutely remain. It holds the same weight as the words “me”, “her”, and “he”. Saying, “Who did the bus hit?” is like saying, “The bus hit I/he/her.”

    Reply
  67. Dan K. -  March 17, 2014 - 3:27 pm

    I think “whom” should be kept. Now that I UNDERSTAND what it means. I totally love the word. It’s awesome. I’m gonna use it.

    Reply
  68. Daryn -  March 17, 2014 - 12:22 pm

    Must we strip away anything that makes us work a little harder? Laziness is a lame excuse to drop a word from the English language. I’m so grateful that my parents never talked down to us kids, or used simple words that would never elevate a meaning or encourage us to “look up” a word we didn’t understand, thus building a better vocabulary and means to express ourselves. The proper use of a language is an art form in my mind. ‘Whom” may represent a subtle shift that may not be easily grasped. But let’s not give up so easily…help keep standards up. And,
    “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

    Reply
  69. Jeff Asay -  March 17, 2014 - 11:16 am

    Considering the sad struggles with using the pronouns ‘me’ and ‘I’ in today’s society, I find it unsurprising that ‘whom’ is disappearing.

    Reply
  70. Skeptic -  March 17, 2014 - 11:02 am

    Whom should be kept.

    I would like to address the other issue briefly mentioned, that of not ending a sentence with a preposition. I suspect this rule comes from Latin and Latin based languages. These languages prefer the syntax “For what are you looking?” instead of the more direct English version, “What are you looking for?” Of course the former is only a rough translation of the Latin “Quid quaeritas” in which there is no “for”. The “for” is contained in the the verb “quaeritas” so there isn’t an issue of not ending the sentence with a preposition. Is the former convoluted phrasing “For what are you looking?” really preferable to the simpler and more direct “What are you looking for?”

    Reply
  71. Rob 3 -  March 17, 2014 - 10:31 am

    I don’t think that the question should be whether or not we should expel ‘whom’ from the dictionary. Rather, should we expand the definition and use of ‘who’? On that, I would vote ‘yes’ lest we continue to nurture our social bias through the words we use.

    Reply
  72. David Swarbrick -  March 17, 2014 - 8:27 am

    Please keep ‘younker’. It sounds awesome. Also ‘frigorific’ is pretty awesome too.

    Reply
  73. Brittany -  March 17, 2014 - 8:02 am

    The word “whom” should remain in the English language, even if oft understood by the hoi polloi. It is what separates the literate from the idiot.

    Reply
  74. Anonymous -  March 17, 2014 - 7:26 am

    Continued …

    Here’s the other case:

    — Who(m) should come with us?

    Does “I” work?

    — I should come with us?

    yes (“I should come”)

    Does “me” work?

    — Me should come with us?

    no (“Me should come”)

    So “me,” the subjective case is correct, corresponding to “who”

    Thus:

    — Who should come with us?

    Reply
  75. Anonymous -  March 17, 2014 - 7:22 am

    Nice article, but the explanation of which to use is not especially clear. It’s easier to substitute “I” or “me” to see which to use. “I” is the subjective case, which corresponds to “who.” “Me” is the objective case, which corresponds to “whom.” For instance:

    Give it to who(m)?
    or
    To who(m) should I give it?

    Does “I” work?

    Give it to I?
    To I should I give it?

    No.

    Does “me” work?

    Give it to me?
    To me should I give it?

    yes.

    So use “whom.”

    Reply
  76. James Brodie -  March 17, 2014 - 6:37 am

    E.g.(exampli grati) ‘For whom the bells toll’ is correct. Should you drop ‘whom’ and insert ‘him’, it sounds correct.and is correct. Otherwise, use ‘who’. I hope this helps. Truly, quite easy. Ineluctable problems do surface occasionally…..

    Reply
  77. R. T. Greenwood -  March 17, 2014 - 6:15 am

    Very simple. Who is a subject. Whom is an object. If this does not explain the difference, then your English teachers failed you.

    Reply
  78. Manish -  March 16, 2014 - 11:04 pm

    From WHOM did you get the isea of removing WHOM from the Diction….

    Reply
  79. M. T. -  March 16, 2014 - 10:47 pm

    Nicholas, you are incorrect. Whom is used for ALL objects in English, whether direct (analogous to accusative case), indirect (analogous to dative case), or prepositional. You example sentence should read, “Who is taking whom to whom?”

    The article confused the matter way more than necessary and added rules that simply aren’t correct. If you know what an object is, then you’ll know when to use whom. Whom is simply the objective case of who.

    There’s no need to bring up whether a person is “present in the conversation”; that’s irrelevant and will often lead to incorrect results. Seriously, where did you come up with that? There’s not even any need to bring up grammatical cases, which don’t strictly apply in English.

    Reply
  80. Anonymous -  March 16, 2014 - 6:34 pm

    “Whom” is basically equivalent to “him” or “her” or even “me.”
    We need it. At least, I do. I’m a student and vote to keep it. Since it’s a grammar rule that actually makes sense (use who when you would use he, use whom when you would use him), I would like it to stay.

    Reply
  81. Vladmir Putin -  March 16, 2014 - 2:53 pm

    I think we should just all learn to speak Russian

    Reply
  82. Unknown -  March 16, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    We should really just keep the word. Or, at least I think that we shouldn’t delete the word

    Reply
  83. Ron Pierce -  March 16, 2014 - 3:32 am

    Do away with the pronoun whom? Ridiculous. Next you will be doing away with him and me. These are objective pronouns, and since people speak thousands of words every day, why not learn to use them correctly? Does anyone remember the old black and white TV series where in the opening scene the butler answered the door and asked, “Whom shall I say is calling?” Wrong!

    Reply
  84. Henry -  March 16, 2014 - 2:49 am

    So “Doctor Who” is, depending on context, a grammatically correct phrase after all! Woohoo!

    Reply
  85. Adapted Underdog -  March 16, 2014 - 2:38 am

    I’d like to explore the psychology behind those who are active and vehement proponents of the mercilessly removing a word from language. What type of person feels this strongly about the deletion of a word rather than simply not using it? Exactly what experience does one have to experience with Whom to demand its strict and immediate withdrawal from the dictionary? Surely there are other things in this world that can be showed the same passion for removal. I imagine hunger, poverty, child abuse and AIDS to be a bit more deserving of one’s energy than seeing to it that Whom no longer has representation by the English language. Furthermore, bypassing this word will not allow it to die. Whom simply refuses to go away due to the fact that To Whom It May Concern is number one when it comes to introducing a letter to a recipient whose name is unknown, or to a series of recipients of whom no name is known. If you can come up with a better introduction to replace it then I imagine you will be lauded and then just may possess the power to murder words your indolence won’t allow you to use at will.

    Reply
  86. sam -  March 16, 2014 - 1:02 am

    There has already been good argument by fellow users to “KEEP WHOM”…
    Use of who and whom is different. It should certainly not be removed. Just because use has dropped doesn’t mean it is no good. People don’t use it because they perhaps find it confusing to use… and that is.

    Reply
  87. Jonariza -  March 15, 2014 - 6:08 pm

    I strongly think that it should be kept. If one knows English grammar well, one knows its importance and usefulness. Although the word itself may not be used commonly, there are instances in which its use can’t be replaced for sentence construction.

    Reply
  88. Mae -  March 15, 2014 - 6:06 pm

    I am a complete literature nut! I love classics, including the Shakespearean pieces, which use old English. That being the case, I say we keep “whom” as a word…you never know by whom it is used. ;)

    Reply
  89. Tajemnica -  March 15, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    Let whom live :D

    Keep whom. I agree with Joel Mitchell, just because people are using slang a lot more these days and do not use words correctly is no reason to get rid of a lovely word. While some are going to speak intelligibly, a few people still understand the correct usage of this word and indeed use it. It is nice to still have at least a few formal words that exist in the English dictionary.

    Reply
  90. P. Davis -  March 15, 2014 - 3:12 pm

    KEEP IT…..Please we must do better and we can’t always have our way specially when we to lazy to use the in it’s right usage.

    Reply
  91. Susie Qu -  March 15, 2014 - 10:51 am

    Is it “Whom is dying?” when you are simply referencing someone you do not know? I thought the rule was that if you answer a “who” question, you would need to use the pronoun “he, but if you answer a “whom” questions you need “him.”
    For example: “Who is going to the party?” “He is. John is going.”
    Versus: “To whom did you give the present?” “To him. I gave the present to him.”
    Therefore, wouldn’t it be “Who is dying?” Because “he” is dying, not “him.”?!

    Reply
  92. susan -  March 15, 2014 - 10:06 am

    I ‘fess up. I’m a stickler, one of those people who would have been an English teacher had I not been a journalist. Therefore, couldn’t resist pointing out the grammatical error in your opening graph, in the sentence: “… whom makes a speaker sound insincere when they’re trying to sound smart.”
    “A speaker” is singular. “They’re” is plural. Thus, you meant to say: “… whom makes a speaker sound insincere when HE OR SHE IS trying to sound smart.”
    As for “who” and “whom,” I generally try to avoid usages requiring “whom.” They simply sound too stilted.

    Reply
  93. Ray Mattes -  March 15, 2014 - 9:27 am

    For all you folks who want to eliminate “whom,” how would you reconcile the Hemingway classic: “For WHOM the Bell Tolls?”

    Reply
  94. John Voss -  March 14, 2014 - 2:14 pm

    I always think of the difference between ‘he’ and ‘him’ as analogous to ‘who’ and ‘whom’. I never say, “me and him went… ” when it’s easy to remember, “he and I went…” So, “Who is my friend?” is easy to remember rather than, “Whom is my friend?”

    Reply
  95. ;) -  March 14, 2014 - 1:29 pm

    I vote for allowing English to evolve and just letting this word die.

    Reply
  96. Nicholas -  March 14, 2014 - 12:58 pm

    Big T, I agree to some extent that whatever you want to say is correct. Language is, in fact, an art form just like painting or sculpting. Like any art form, however, there are social and practical lines on what is better or worse. Analogously, if you were making a canoe, you could make it however you wanted and name it whatever you wanted, but if you made it a perfect cube, it probably wouldn’t well serve the purpose of transporting people through water and if you named it The Little Titanic, you might have a hard time getting rid of it. If you’re just making a canoe for display or talking with your friends, do whatever you want; I like to make fun of ‘hither’ and ‘thither’ like in, “Is it just me, or is it getting hot in hither?”

    Linguist Presently Known as OED, I’m glad that you argued that. I think you’re probably right and my only argument is that I like it in the dative case and not the accusative; I’m seeing, looking closer, that these terms aren’t typically used in english and most people probably can’t distinguish between them. I would like to have THIS argument with a lot of people because to me “whom are you taking?” sounds archaic where “who are you going with?” sounds ‘derpy.’ Certainly, I also think that dative and accusative should be taught because they are important in many other languages.

    Regardless, I hope all of the discussion on this fora like this makes it clear that we are not done with ‘whom’.

    Reply
  97. Grammar King -  March 14, 2014 - 12:52 pm

    The author incorrectly states “Whom comes into the conversation when you realize that the person you’re talking to didn’t come to the party alone.” I found that very odd. It should read “Whom comes into the conversation when you realize that the person to whom you’re talking didn’t come to the party alone. ” LOL.

    Additionally, someone indicated it was OK to end a sentence with a preposition. Double LOL.

    Reply
  98. Snetterton -  March 14, 2014 - 12:48 pm

    I am actively encouraging the demise of ‘whom’. Its time has passed, its functionality obsolete, and it serves no valid purpose as far as clarity goes. When someone uses ‘who’ in every case, it is in no way unclear. It is time to let it die. I refuse to use it, and when challenged, I say ‘That’s intentional. It’s time for ‘whom’ to be laid to rest once and for all.’

    Reply
  99. Mary Fox -  March 14, 2014 - 12:07 pm

    The way I was taught:
    Who and Whom are like He and Him, She and Her, They and Them.
    You get the idea. When in doubt, I test the sentence substituting He or Him. It’s a quick way of clarifying the correct usage.

    Reply
  100. ripuree -  March 14, 2014 - 9:54 am

    I think the word whom should be kept.

    Reply
  101. REY -  March 14, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Best explanation of “whom” in history.

    Reply
  102. Uncle Toodles -  March 14, 2014 - 8:18 am

    Your article starts off promising, but doesn’t explore the reason why the use of “whom” seems to be fading.

    Also, what style manual are you using? You write:

    It’s the difference between the accusative form, ‘whom’ and the nominative form, ‘who.’

    What was the purpose of your commas? If any punctuation needed, why not parentheses? Why single quotes? No double quotes were used before this. (????)

    Still, you do make a strong case for keeping “whom” alive based on its unique functionality. But even copy editors should use another copy editor.

    Reply
  103. Sean -  March 14, 2014 - 7:55 am

    “Whom” should stay! There are many words like “whom” that I was never educated on when schooling. More often than not I find myself repeating the same sentence up to three separate times in a row just to clarify my point because most people don’t seem to understand the point I’m trying to make. No word should be lost or removed from the dictionary, only expanded upon, for this reason. Sometimes all it takes is looking at the same sentence in a different fashion to truly understand the point that the writer/speaker is trying to get across. If we weren’t so poorly educated in our own native language then I believe many disagreements would never take place to begin with.

    Reply
  104. Gilbert Tucker -  March 14, 2014 - 6:46 am

    In the world of “him and I”, whom is not forgotten it is none existent
    Accusative and nominative form you trying to say something? Pal.

    Reply
  105. Big T -  March 13, 2014 - 11:27 pm

    I am really bad at English grammar.
    But I still use the word whom, and I probably use it
    wrong 50 percent of the time.

    So I guess I am part of the 50 percent that still likes
    to use whom incorrectly.
    If people use it wrong, that’s O.K..

    Whom am I to judge?

    Reply
  106. wolf tamer and iron miner -  March 13, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    I’m 13 & I don’t use “whom” all that often, but it is definitely a useful word, and we should keep it in the dictionary. Even if it’s just used in a formal context.

    Reply
  107. Lisa Hayes -  March 13, 2014 - 7:51 pm

    Whom should DEFINITELY remain in our vocabulary. Our society, as a whole, has become too lazy and impatient in this ever-expanding computer age. Also, American kids aren’t being taught grammar anymore, at least not the ones I’ve encountered. Along with not knowing the difference between who/whom, they didn’t know when to use better/the best or worse/the worst (the latter is used when there’s three or more). I used to teach grammar as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and MY students were taught the difference: whom follows prepositions and/or replaces OBJECTS of the sentence such as him, her, them etc. All one has to do is replace whom with the object and if it doesn’t work, then it’s who; IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!! Unfortunately, I didn’t know this explanation until I took a grammar course as a senior in college 30+ years ago. What I just stated is a VERY SAD commentary about the state of pride in our own language!!

    Reply
  108. OED -  March 13, 2014 - 7:49 pm

    @Nicholas Yikes!

    «Just remember that it doesn’t behave the same way as him; you don’t say, “whom did you meet?” or, “whom are you taking?” but you would say, “whom did you meet with?” and “whom are you going with?”

    And a sentence is a fine thing to put a preposition at the end of.»

    In colloquial, or informal English, you are right. However, in standard, or grammatically correct English, we use the objective case and ask: “Whom did you meet?”and “Whom are you taking?” Just because there is a question mark at the end of the sentence, we do not use the interrogative who (who, then, is a subject pronoun).

    The accusative is used for direct objects or objects of prepositions. It is easier to see (or hear) the use of whom with prepositions or with the dative case (indirect objects usually preceded by at or to). In English, we use the term objective case for the accusative case and the dative case (which are Latin terms).

    A native speaker who has grown up speaking grammatically correct English hears this automatically and does not need lengthy grammar explanations.

    Reply
  109. Cierra -  March 13, 2014 - 5:38 pm

    I think the word “whom” should be kept in the dictionary. If used properly, it sounds positively lovely in a sentence. You also sound smarter than the average human when you use it in the correct way. I’m only a teenager, but I use the word “whom” on a daily basis, and I use it correctly. If people are still using the word, why even consider taking it out of the dictionary? I’m sure even if it was removed people would still use it, but by the time I have grandchildren it would be just a word that the older generation uses. Why remove a perfectly fine word if there’s not logic in removing it?

    Reply
  110. Thad -  March 13, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    While I agree with the usage corrections here, I want to point out the inconsistency in the first sentence: “Over the past 200 years written use of the pronoun whom has declined by half, and half again over the last 50.”
    Since the past 200 years includes the last 50, the decline over the past 50 can’t be greater than the decline over the past 200. Perhaps that illustrates a decline in the ability to use numbers logically.

    Reply
  111. Nicholas -  March 13, 2014 - 1:58 pm

    Just remember that it doesn’t behave the same way as him; you don’t say, “whom did you meet?” or, “whom are you taking?” but you would say, “whom did you meet with?” and “whom are you going with?”

    And a sentence is a fine thing to put a preposition at the end of.

    Reply
  112. Zachary Wilson -  March 13, 2014 - 12:55 pm

    As we’ve become a culture more concerned with convenience than eloquence, we’ve really “dumbed down” the language with which we use to communicate with one another. Emails and text messages require that people communicate plainly and concisely. However, when people become so used to reading and writing automatically and mindlessly, the artistry of language suffers! I read somewhere that the literature that most people read today is on a middle school level (such as Harry Potter or the da Vinci Code), and I think that this reflects a culture that cares only about immediate gratification and not about the complexity and depth that characterized the classic novels that used to be best sellers, like Dickens or Tolstoy. I think that preserving “whom” is one way to preserve literature in general!

    Reply
  113. Al St. Pierre -  March 13, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    What makes me crazy? Especially with “journalist” on the tube.
    Pronouncing the “T” in often. It should be pronounced often, not ofTen.
    Or am I wrong? I could be. It’s happened in the past.

    Reply
  114. Daniel Green -  March 13, 2014 - 10:27 am

    Whom seems to ring most correctly as the adjacent object of a preposition, but that’s just me. ;-] Thanks for adding clarity to this one; now let’s nail “comprised of”, an perversion of the language that makes me shudder every time I hear it…!

    Reply
  115. Haseeb -  March 13, 2014 - 7:55 am

    ‘WHOM’ is irreplaceable.

    Reply
  116. Molly -  March 13, 2014 - 7:55 am

    Thank you Will. That made simple to remember!

    Reply
  117. Kim -  March 13, 2014 - 5:49 am

    Mr. Will… That is exactly the method I use. It get’s one to the correct answer, easily, without having to either know, or understand why.

    Reply
  118. Nicholas -  March 12, 2014 - 9:40 pm

    Chris, you can only think of one person whom you’ve heard whom from; people are who, other things are that… unless you’re Gotye.

    I don’t usually correct people on who vs. whom but that doesn’t mean that to be correct is to be incorrect.

    ‘Whom’ is dative and not accusative which makes it harder than ‘him’.

    “He is taking him to him”
    (n) (a) (d)
    “Who is taking who to whom?”

    Typically, if a preposition applies to it, it is dative. This should be taught in school but if you don’t want to use it, don’t.

    Reply
  119. William F. Wall -  March 12, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    The writer makes a good case for retaining “whom” in the lexicon. However, the writer also alludes to the silly notion that ending a sentence with a preposition is somehow incorrect. For the most the many-century history of the English language, ending a sentence with a preposition was quite acceptable. This changed in the early 20th century when self-appointed experts suddenly deemed it to be unacceptable. This is nothing more than pretentious nonsense and I’m quite confident as to which word I can choose to end my sentences with.

    Reply
  120. (my name that I won't tell you) -  March 12, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    I’m a kid, so maybe that explains why I don’t really get the difference between who and whom, nevertheless I do sometimes realize when it is misused. I personally don’t have any opinion on whom being done away with. Who ever mixes who and whom up? I don’t. If whom is dying, I can’t really do anything about it, though some people can help a word withstand the disheveled way of the world.

    Reply
  121. John William Van Metre, Jr -  March 12, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    In addition to spelling correction could correct use of word and sentence structure correction be programed in the email, facebook and other informal communication methods. With user option.

    Reply
  122. (my name that I won -  March 12, 2014 - 1:41 pm

    I’m a kid, so maybe that explains why I don’t really get the difference between who and whom, nevertheless I do sometimes realize when it is misused. If whom is dying, I won’t and can’t do anything about it. However, people who are inspired every day

    Reply
  123. Laura Nass -  March 12, 2014 - 1:38 pm

    You hit the nail on the head, regarding incorrect usage of “whom”. This is a clue to those of us who understand its correct usage, as to who is educated and who is ignorant of its usage.

    I’m not so sure it’s important to note that “whom” refers to someone new to the sentence; in each of your examples, “whom” was clearly the object — of the sentence or of a preposition.

    My opinion is that we should keep this word around; if we lost it, we’d end up using “who” in place of “whom”, and that can in some cases lead to confusion.

    Reply
  124. Mr. Will -  February 20, 2013 - 3:32 pm

    Using phrases like “interrogative and related pronoun for the dative case” does not simplify this matter at all, it merely gives headaches to non-English majors. As an English teacher, I’ve found this definition easiest:

    If “HE” and “HIM” can be used easily, so can “WHO” and “WHOM.”

    WHO is used in sentences where HE would fit.
    WHOM is used in sentences where HIM would fit.

    With WHOM did you come? I came with HIM.
    WHO is here? HE is here.

    I would not say “I came with HE,” so I don’t say “With WHO did you come?”
    I would not say “HIM is here,” so I do not say “WHOM is here.”

    If you’re not certain if you should use WHO or WHOM, then reorganize the sentence as an answer. If you would use HE, then WHO is correct. If you would use HIM, the WHOM is correct.

    Reply
  125. Chris -  December 21, 2012 - 6:29 am

    It’s sad to say but I can only think of one person that I have heard whom from the past ten years and it was out of context.

    Reply
  126. joy -  December 9, 2012 - 4:25 pm

    FOR WHOMEVER CARES.
    Of course Mark Pocock is correct for the very reasons he and others have expressed.. We keep “whom”. It would also be nice to recapture the true meaning of words like ” cool” ‘rad’ “hot” just once in a while.

    Reply
  127. Lost.In.Translation -  December 6, 2012 - 6:23 pm

    It’s heartbreaking to me to see at times that some of the people commenting here know more about these words than article’s writer. This lack of research seems to constitute many impatient journalists in the word field today. Although, people may go to school, not everyone retains what they learn and continues to learn. That’s why, as a writer, I think it’s important to visit here frequently to learn new words and refresh old ones. However, how can any writer accurately do this continuing education by reading an article from an iffy source or reading an article from a supposed authority “to whom” proper information has not been given nor anything more than a sensational and intriguing title has been bestowed? This doesn’t go for simply this article, but many articles I’ve read on here. Nevertheless, I am pleased to see so many other word buffs speaking up for what they know to be truth. Please don’t let writing be lost to LOLs and OMGs, the dross of a constantly-evolving, quick-paced language of the modern world. Everyone can learn to write. Not everyone can be a writer. Someone please tell 92.5% of bloggers and modern journalists out there this.

    Reply
  128. Hamachisn't -  November 27, 2012 - 9:01 pm

    Personally, I like the word “whom”. When I was a kid, if my mother were ever to mention selling something, my father would ask “to who?” and my mother would chime in, “to WHOM!” I learned that little bit of dialogue which I repeat, from time to time, with glee.

    What I don’t understand is why you bothered to mention that the object needs to be absent in order to be covered my “whom”. The way I learned it, “whom” was simply the objective form of the unknown person. If you don’t know who the person is, you don’t know whether or not they are present, so you can’t limit your use of “whom” only to those who are absent. For another example, a speaker can address a group of people to find out which one of them received some information: “He told whom?” (I wonder if the speaker could ask “He told whom of you?”; that sounds awkward to me but seems technically correct).

    Reply
  129. Kellie -  November 21, 2012 - 7:26 pm

    “Whom” should definitely stay in the dictionary. It is true that the word is used less often, but it is still a part of our language. I see it more in written works than I hear it in day to day speech, but it is not extinct. Not everyone knows the difference anymore, and would rather rephrase a sentence to using “who” instead of “whom,” and avoid it altogether. For example, one might not say “With whom did you come?” and may say instead “Who did you come with?” to avoid misuse, even though this ends the sentence with a preposition. It may not be as often used, but “whom” is still a word worthy of English usage, if nothing else as an available tool to avoid ending sentences with a preposition.

    Reply
  130. EzBreezy -  November 10, 2012 - 8:47 am

    Two educated, successful well dressed friends Who & Whom walked into a bar. Who sat at the bar, while Whom went to the men’s room. Friendly bartender asked “Who are you with”. Who replied, Whom. Bartender, a English major college dropout was offended with the snarky reply and delayed his order.

    Who decided to go to the loo after Whom sat down at the bar. When the Bartender came over to Whom and asked “who is that guy?”, Whom replied yes. The mildly ticked off Bartender asked again politely ” whom are you with?”. Whom replied “No, Who.”

    The Bartender exploded: “I want you both upper class snobs out of this blue collar bar, RIGHT NOW”.

    After this incident Who and Whom parted ways.
    ———
    I apologize for any grammatical errors in rendition of this true story. English is only my first language.

    Reply
  131. dududarlene -  November 6, 2012 - 12:14 pm

    Who cares? Mostly the types of people whom we have met in Grad School. It sounds snarky in conversation to use ‘whom.’ It’s ‘irregardless’ we should kill, I think.

    Reply
  132. Douglas Daniels -  November 5, 2012 - 8:57 pm

    Dear Don Fritz,

    You are right, language tends to simplify over time. I’m sure many of us have read or heard of John McWorter of Columbia University – he of the linguistic arts, and in particular creole languages, who did a very good “The Great Courses” program which is available at many libraries. He made a persuasive case that we lose words, or inflections, or case nouns, over time because they are superfluous – people like simple, not complicated. You have captured Professor McWorther very well.

    I remain happy to retain the distinction between who and whom. Am I a dinosaur? Probably – in a hundred years. For now, let’s sound educated. For surely, that is a lost art.

    Reply
  133. Fey -  November 5, 2012 - 11:18 am

    I think the word (whom) should stay in the dictonary.

    Reply
  134. Tony -  November 2, 2012 - 4:19 pm

    this comment section…makes me sickly

    Reply
  135. Don Fritz -  October 30, 2012 - 9:56 pm

    In spite of all that has been said (at great length) above, I still maintain that we really don’t need multiple forms of any pronoun to make meaning clear in a well written sentence. Since we do not have for English an equivalent of the French Academy to determine what goes and what stays in an official version of the language, none of us in this august group will be able to rule on the question anyway. And I would maintain that “whom” is on the way out, however much it will sadden those who love the music of the language. Time will tell, as it always has in English. Gone like all those other pleasing forms that English inherited from the Germans. I was reminded at Evensong on Sunday night of another lovely departed usage: “He remembering his mercy HATH HOLPEN his servant Israel.” (Magnificat: Book of Common Prayer). What melody is there in that beautiful form! Sorry, Old Girl, that you are on the way to the dusty archive.

    Reply
  136. potatochips74321 -  October 30, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    some of y’all are fanatics

    Reply
  137. EDW -  October 30, 2012 - 1:36 pm

    Whom: is this rare pronoun really dead?

    This pronoun [whom] is NEITHER rare, NOR is it ever interchangeable with [who].

    A prior poster (Bill Brautigam, the son of an English teacher, who SHOULD have known better) offered a sequence of pronouns, and a music jingle to assist in the memorization of that sequence. Regrettably, that sequence was flawed. The CORRECT sequence would have been [first person singular, second person singluar, third person singular, followed by first person plural, second person plural, and third person plural]: I; You; He, She, It; We; You; and They. The sequence of first person, second person, and third person is critical to adhere to when learning the English language.

    Reply
  138. Dougall -  October 30, 2012 - 1:35 pm

    Your explanation of whom (objective case pronoun) is really great – but not very practical (sorry). I find that if you just remember “whom” always follows a preposition, it’s much easier to use.

    Recall that a proposition is any word that completes the sentence, “The mouse ran [blank] the box.” So, our mouse can run under, over, in, out of, above, below – you get the idea. Now, it’s fairly easy to remember to say “to whom” and “from whom” and “for whom” and “with whom” and thus sound intelligent, not to say sophisticated.

    And who wouldn’t want that?

    Reply
  139. iamio -  October 30, 2012 - 5:47 am

    I am so disappointed with the author of this article. There are so many user comments on this article that apparently don’t realize the author is wrong. This is 5th grade grammar; I thought this mistake is so basic, it’s disheartening.
    On the other hand, we are exposing some urban legends of English grammar. Apparently, a lot of people had the same misconception that Hotword did – just looking at the comment wall. While I will never say the article is commendable; it may prove useful.

    Reply
  140. iamio -  October 30, 2012 - 5:34 am

    @Lynnesha, “whom” in your sentence is not the subject of the sentence, it is the object of the prepositional phrase “with whom”.

    Reply
  141. David Crisp -  October 29, 2012 - 7:44 pm

    My confusion is with “they” to refer to a single person. Does that make me an us?

    Reply
  142. nellyville -  October 29, 2012 - 11:21 am

    Wow! so many comments. So, which one of them is a correct one? I am also having difficulties in using “whom” properly. Thanks!

    Reply
  143. Fergal -  October 29, 2012 - 9:57 am

    It is even easier than that.
    ‘Who’ and ‘whom’ are always used in questions. To decide if you should use ‘who’ or ‘whom’, think about the answer to the question . . .
    Where the answer would be ‘he’, use ‘who’.
    Where the answer would be ‘him’, use ‘whom’.
    For example . . .
    Who did that? He did it.
    To whom does it belong? It belongs to him.
    Simple.

    Reply
  144. Kim -  October 29, 2012 - 7:54 am

    If a preposition is used, whom is correct. So how many know what a preposition is?

    My confusion is with “persons” for more than one person. What’s happened to “people”?

    Reply
  145. Bethyy -  October 29, 2012 - 7:54 am

    Keep whom! Grammar makes the world go round!!

    Reply
  146. Lynnaesha -  October 29, 2012 - 6:52 am

    Andrew, you’ve got it all wrong! When the subject of the sentence is doing nothing, you use whom. When the subject is doing something, i.e., antecedes a verb, it’s who. Leaves me pondering the question: “With whom did you come?” since the person with who you are speaking would have done an action with the other(s) in question.

    Reply
  147. Steven Ilott -  October 29, 2012 - 6:08 am

    I agree that the article is misleading. The reality is actually very simple, which is why I am often bewildered at the lack of grammatical comprehension from people who are, in other disciplines such as Maths and Science, demonstrably intelligent. I’m convinced it amounts to an intransigence, almost a presumption, on their part that they are above the constraints of language—though, as linguists know, there is always a balance to be struck between prescriptive and descriptive forms of analysis. Its simplicity offends them; but, just as strands of DNA constitute the building blocks of life, so the rules governing syntax and accidence enable us to communicate and, in some cases, produce great literature.

    To clarify this particular rule, ‘who’ (the subject/nominative) and ‘whom’ (the object/accusative/used for all oblique cases which in English require prepositions such as of, for, by and with) are either relative pronouns—the man, ‘whom’ I just saw, is my uncle—or interrogative pronouns—’who’ made that noise? The latter is the one which necessarily precludes knowledge of identity. How is that confusing, I ask myself!

    I believe my familiarity with two languages (Latin and French) whose nouns and adjectives, in varying degrees, undergo quite a lot of inflection according to the case, number and gender has rendered me more sensitive to the few case distinctions that English does throw up. It also makes me more passionate about retaining them, ‘whom’ being a perfect example. Would we willingly forfeit ‘me’, ‘him’, ‘her’, ‘us’ or ‘them’? No, that would be ludicrous. ‘Whom’ is not an arcane word the only advocates of which are the self-appointed ‘grammar police’. It is an indispensable pronoun, to which the same criteria should be applied. Granted, one can often substitute ‘who’ and make oneself understood, but that merely reflects the clemency and flexibility of English. Don’t take it for granted. Moreover, there is no reason to abandon ‘whom’ altogether and thus impoverish the language. In many cases, it still provides a useful degree of clarity.

    Reply
  148. Daisy Lipton -  October 29, 2012 - 5:24 am

    To be honest, I think alot of people have been just saying how to use it, the question was not how but if we should keep using it. I’m pretty sure the writer does know, as he does mention the objective and subjective case, however he is just using an example to say why he beleives it should stay, which people may or may not agree with.

    I do not think that ‘whom’ should remain apart of the English language, the reason it is so largely misunderstood is because English has largely lost its case system, yes it remains in a few personal pronouns but otherwise is irrellevent to English grammar on a whole. Naturally languages evolve over time and I think yeah not largely used words should stay but out-dated grammar should go. ‘Whom’ does not hold key to understanding, word order is more important in English. People like to hold on to things because they are traditions but do not seem to look at whether it is good or benificial to people as a whole.

    I personally don’t use it accept in ‘To whom it may concern’ I do know when to use it but I find it unnatural.

    Reply
  149. Allison Wright -  October 29, 2012 - 3:42 am

    I vote this blog article as the most misleading blog post on grammar I have read this year. I cannot believe that dictionary.com has not yet offered an apology for the nonsense published.
    There are numerous correct examples and explanations of the simple rules governing the use of “whom” among the 194 comments made on this blog so far.
    Perhaps dictionary.com would like to collate these into some sort of order and publish a well thought-out post whose contents are correct?

    Reply
  150. cheryl -  October 29, 2012 - 12:20 am

    When I was in primary school in the 90s, ‘whom’ was still taught and used. I thoroughly disagree with this article. The writer is wrong. It’s also a shame to consider discontinuing the use of a very useful pronoun simply because people in this age do not know how to use it.

    Reply
  151. Ruthiekinns -  October 28, 2012 - 9:53 pm

    In 7th grade my English teacher taught us how to use “whom” . Basically, when you ask a question, if the answer is “him or her” then you use “whom” . So you wouldn’t use it like this “Who called you?” “He called me” because you use “he”. But you use it for example when you ask “Whom was it for?” , the answer being “it was for him.” Simple to remember, whom for him and who for he. I never forgot this &I take pride in using “whom” correctly, only take a quick second to double check if I use it right

    Reply
  152. Midsummer -  October 28, 2012 - 8:04 pm

    I’ll keep it. I’ll use it. Done, and done.

    Reply
  153. rustgold -  October 28, 2012 - 6:11 pm

    Typical lack of quality. Dictionary.com, you really need to smarten up on your editorials, for they currently turn the site into a bad joke.

    Reply
  154. Phillip -  October 28, 2012 - 3:58 pm

    Cool. Whom may that dude be? LOL

    Reply
  155. Armin -  October 28, 2012 - 3:55 pm

    This article is thoroughly American:
    Not only do you question whether it would be advisable to rob the English language of the last vestiges of proper grammar, you prove by your article that you do not even know the beginnings of the subject you write about.
    Your explanation of the usage and purpose of “whom” is nothing but ridiculous.
    You simply do not know what you are writing about, but you do it in a loud voice, in a prominent position, and you expect others to take you seriously
    .
    As I said: VERY American.

    Please excuse the rest of the English speaking world for being disgusted.

    Good luck in your further career!

    Reply
  156. Arthur Naiman -  October 28, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    As Calvin Trillin once put it, “Whom is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler.” I say, let’s bury it, and good riddance.

    Reply
  157. ginnie -  October 28, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    Rock on whom!!!

    Reply
  158. Amy -  October 28, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    I address all formal emails and letters with “To Whom It May Concern”. To be honest, I don’t think replacing the “whom” with “who” would give such a formal greeting. I do not believe whom should be removed simply because most people do not know how to use it correctly. In fact, I believe that gives teachers more of a reason to teach more about the word and how to use it appropriately.

    Reply
  159. Aliqsandre Suguitan -  October 28, 2012 - 12:49 pm

    Take it out and take out Him and Her, too.

    Whom is easy to use. Use Whom where you can use Him, and use Who where you can use He.

    Aliqs

    Reply
  160. Callie -  October 28, 2012 - 10:13 am

    It should most certainly be kept! Why should we who have a respect for English be affected by those who don’t? The latter would probably never crack a dictionary to find the word, anyways…

    Reply
  161. John Allan -  October 28, 2012 - 9:46 am

    I make a point of using whom where it should be used. So, yes, it should be kept. Moreover, perhaps it’s time that English was again correctly taught, to ALL school age children, as it should be spoken, and written . . . not as a PC afterthought.

    Reply
  162. Francin Jean Baptiste -  October 28, 2012 - 8:20 am

    It’s all about advantages and disadvantages of new technologies. Laziness from cutting syllables and letters in text messaging is about to submerge us into an illiterate world of communication. For instance, I see two major weaknesses in posts that some people write everyday – merging away from the main topic and writing things that are not English. You know you’ll need it to ace exams like the GRE if you plan to push for higher education.
    Every language obey to grammatical rules, even though some of them evolve over time. You say it right: “who” is used as subject and “whom” as object. Who are we to delete the work of a man whom people still admire?
    In this sentence, “whom” would sound awkward if it were “who”
    “Whom” sounds very nice when you place it where it belongs, after the name of persons or your pet. Let’s cheer it and let’s start competing with the Asians for a spot at Yale, Harvard, etc. Foreigners are more likely to obey the English grammatical rules than Americans (that’s my bias).
    If you had a chance to watch Cathy Couric’s interview with the Dean of Yale University last week, you would have an idea about how grammatical errors are a huge part of a candidate’s application being rejected.
    As long as we keep using “who”, “whom” will always be alive, because the pronoun “who” cannot substitute for it; otherwise, it would sound very awkward.

    Reply
  163. jeffrey -  October 28, 2012 - 7:43 am

    im overwomed

    Reply
  164. Carole -  October 28, 2012 - 2:44 am

    A professor once told my class:

    “HE/WHO….HIM/WHOM”.

    Reply
  165. Frenchlove -  October 27, 2012 - 11:59 pm

    We should keep whom!
    :) TOTALLY!

    Reply
  166. kar -  October 27, 2012 - 6:59 pm

    “-because it is a rule, and people need to be educated in order to uphold this rule.”, said the Grammar police. How about this. We keep the word “whom”, so everyone who feels “Ignorance is the problem.”, can cope. I’m just asking that we make the letter m silent in the word “whom”.

    Reply
  167. venice rolfe -  October 27, 2012 - 6:20 pm

    I love to use both. Basically, they are two different words. They are different in meaning, usage and application. However, not using the word “whom” does not make any difference either. One can easily replace it with any word that best applies to the idea or thought. Jumbling words that best fit anyone’s idea can be fun. It gives perks to anybody’s thoughts.

    Reply
  168. Vanessa -  October 27, 2012 - 3:57 pm

    Sia: “Hmm…I was always told that if you wanted to check who/versus whom – ‘If the sentence makes sense with he, then you want who. If it makes sense with him – then you want whose.’ I was never told how to deal with ‘his’ though.”

    I think you mean ‘If it makes sense with him, you use whom.’ Whom is the objective case, equivalent to him. His is possessive, so this is where you would use whose. Hope that makes sense. :)

    Reply
  169. gardenstategirl -  October 27, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    Whose decision is it to remove any word from the dictionary, anyway? I, along with both my children enjoy grammar and are forever shaking our heads when we see grammatical errors in letters, magazines, etc. Having good grammar is very rare these days and I don’t believe removing a word merely because it isn’t being used is justifiable. As mentioned previously, if people would just improve their grammar, this question wouldn’t have been asked in the first place.

    Reply
  170. pobjoy -  October 27, 2012 - 2:34 pm

    ‘With who did you come?’ sounds wrong. The reason is that it is wrong.

    Reply
  171. Guy -  October 27, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    Whom should have died during the industrial revolution, it’s far to dainty and effete for modern society. Whenever I hear it I picture a bunch of dandies in powdered wigs and petticoat breeches. The only people clinging to this awful word are peevish grammarians and English teachers.

    Reply
  172. Lothario Escobar -  October 27, 2012 - 2:22 pm

    I say let it die. The who/whom distinction isn’t sufficiently significant to justify the inefficiency it brings to communication. (I feel the same way about noun genders in French, etc.)

    Progress is usually perceived as blasphemy by most of the status quo.

    Reply
  173. Yoda -  October 27, 2012 - 12:34 pm

    Die, whom will not. Listen to my words, this language will.

    Reply
  174. Erica -  October 27, 2012 - 11:35 am

    I don’t think the word “whom” should die out of usage… I use it a lot in the novel I am currently writing, and I wouldn’t want my book to be denied for having too many grammatical errors. Long live “whom”!

    Reply
  175. Daria -  October 27, 2012 - 11:21 am

    Whoo Whom!

    Reply
  176. Alexander -  October 27, 2012 - 9:39 am

    “Whom” should absolutely be kept. Once one masters (it’s almost like “one”) the correct use, it is a great way to express your nerdiness.

    Reply
  177. Juniper -  October 27, 2012 - 7:12 am

    Of course we should keep it! It’s terrible that spelling and grammar have become so neglected. Grammar in the education system seems to have faded to the point that how much education one recieves on grammar is entirely dependent on which teachers one gets, and not on the school districts curriculum or standardized testing.

    Preserve the dignity of English!

    Reply
  178. Pegotty -  October 27, 2012 - 6:00 am

    Let’s go back to diagramming sentences. Then I think we would all get the difference between who and whom!

    Reply
  179. Starlight Dreamwalker -  October 27, 2012 - 5:10 am

    To whomever and whomsoever it may concern

    You are guilty of ex-whom-ing a perfectly good and quite currently used word that requires no ex-whom-ation.

    Just because you have not registered its regular use in your life, the circles that you frequent and the articles that you read and write does not mean that this word is not used quite frequently in the lives etc of others!

    Using your yardstick as a measure of the liveliness or demise of a word a person born in England who travels to South America and lives for 50 years as the only foreigner with tribe of indigenous people who are totally unknown to the rest of the world could say “English is dead!” ………..

    But for that to be true even just in that person’s life they would have to think and speak completely in some other language without ever remembering a single English word and even then the statement would be only relative to that particular person’s own personal experience.

    Therefore your article is pure conjecture and totally related to your own particular experience, thoughts and consciousness within the current space and timeline you exist within.

    Reply
  180. Alec -  October 27, 2012 - 2:49 am

    It’s nothing to do with mystery. It’s just this: if you’d say ‘him’ rather than ‘he’, then you should say ‘whom’ rather than ‘who’. It’s that simple.

    So:
    “He asked me a question”>>>”Who asked you?”
    “I asked him a question”>>>”Whom did you ask?”

    I’m very happy for some people to stop using it, as it’s always useful to know who the stupid people are.

    Reply
  181. Linda McCleary -  October 27, 2012 - 2:41 am

    I was taught that “whom” is the “who” that follows a preposition; to whom, with whom, above whom, etc.

    Reply
  182. dori -  October 26, 2012 - 7:16 pm

    absolutely keep it — the language is rapidly deteriorating — first it was throwing out adverbs, now it is misuse of apostrophes, lack of spelling and ignorance of any grammar, usage or sentence construction.

    Reply
  183. Hegetarian -  October 26, 2012 - 5:43 pm

    Andrew, WHO wrote on October 24, at 7:27, is correct. _Whom_ is the objective case, and _who_ is the nominative case. They are not interchangeable, and there is no nuance involved.

    Easy test:

    Reword the sentence with _he/him_, _she/her_, _we/us_, etc. If the former word sounds better (e.g., “He brought you” for “Who brought you”), use _who_. If the latter sounds better (e.g., “You came with him” for “Whom did you come with?”) use _whom_. And YES, you may end a sentence with a preposition. You may also split an infinitive. (I can’t remember where I heard that – it may have been an interview with William Safire – but it was VERY liberating!)

    Reply
  184. Eyewitness -  October 26, 2012 - 4:35 pm

    Of course, ‘whom’ must stay and be made comprehensible to people who do not understand how to apply it.

    On a wider note, one of the things which comes to the fore in a debate like this, and which I find disconcerting, is how many people do not actually understand, or are not taught, that language [any language] is a structural entity. Language exists as a kind of architecture by consensus. A process of reasoning exists behind the usage [or not] of certain constructs, like the usage of nominative versus objective case. This failure to appreciated and comprehend language roots is most regrettable. The reasoning which underlies language–what makes sense to the speakers of that language and what makes sense to the subscribers to the structural consensus– is very telling and quite fascinating. It offers a penetrating insight into peoples [the speakers] which might not otherwise be noticable. One very simplistic example is that in Eskimo language, there are more than a dozen words for different types of “snow.” Obviously, they need to be very specific when they speak about that substance. To english speakers, there is commonly only one name for that substance–”snow.” Surely this is fascinating to others than I. WHOM are we to follow in passing language down to generations of speakers–the so-what’ers or the intellectually vigorous? ‘Whom’ stays. If you think it is too much effort to know what it’s usage is, then sound like someone unlearned. My kids are going to know what it is and when to use it. Please don’t speak to them [or me] if ‘whom’ makes you uncomfortable.

    Reply
  185. Q -  October 26, 2012 - 4:32 pm

    Andrew and James have it right. And the object/subject rules apply to ‘whoever’ and ‘whomever’ in exactly the same way.

    Who wrote this article? (I did – subject)
    By whom was this article written? (By me – object of a preposition)

    Who replied to it? (We did – subject)
    To whom were replies written? (To us – object of a preposition)

    Who threw the book? (He did – subject)
    Whom did the book hit on the head? (It hit her – direct object)

    Who gave the gift? (They did – subject)
    To whom was it given? (To us – indirect object)

    Whoever replies to this article needs to pay less attention to grammar. (subject)
    Share your grammar concerns with whomever you like (object)

    Reply
  186. Gallows Humor -  October 26, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    The difference between “who” and “whom” is simply one of case. English doesn’t use a lot of cases, but in terms of pronouns we do.

    You use “who” in the same way you would use “I”, “he”, “she”, and “they”; that is to say, as the subject of a sentence.

    “Whom” is a direct object and also used with prepositions just like “me”, “him”, “her”, and “them”.

    If you’re using the interrogatory pronoun in a possessive way you use “whose”, the equivalent of “my”, “his”, “her”, and “their”.

    It’s not that hard.

    Reply
  187. Robert Sadler -  October 26, 2012 - 1:17 pm

    Don’t worry about “Whom.” Be concerned instead for the widespread abuse of a time-honored but much more endangered convention, the generic masculine form of the first-person singular pronoun. (reference “AM,” Oct. 25 above.)

    Reply
  188. GRace -  October 26, 2012 - 11:31 am

    Whom’s a Keeper! Yey to all whom like it! (Did I get that right?…)

    Reply
  189. Mike -  October 26, 2012 - 11:30 am

    I’m afraid this isn’t the way it works, we can’t consciously decide to keep an element of grammar in our language. All languages are in a constant state of change, and there’s nothing anyone can do to keep “whom” around just by wishing it. Maybe if we can get Homer Simpson or maybe Snooki to start using “whom” (i.e. popularize ), then it might have a chance … totally … LOL

    Reply
  190. Brad Stanton -  October 26, 2012 - 11:27 am

    Let it die, it is for nerds anyway and simpler to do without it.

    Reply
  191. Kartik -  October 26, 2012 - 9:20 am

    All the above comments gave rebirth to the word WHOM… So it is there within us..

    Reply
  192. Mark Pocock -  October 26, 2012 - 9:03 am

    I am firmly of the opinion that simply because we allow the youth of today to manipulate and destroy the English language to suit their illiterate desires and needs, this should not be a reason to remove it from our records and abolish it to the archives never to be heard from again.

    Reply
  193. Derek -  October 26, 2012 - 8:44 am

    I always learned that if it can be replaced with “he,” then “who.” If instead “him” fits, then “whom.”

    Reply
  194. Deborah Lamb -  October 26, 2012 - 7:28 am

    Shouldn’t it be “Which words might be removed…” rather than “What words might be removed”? These days few people care about who vs whom or ending sentences with prepositions. Let’s make life easier!

    Reply
  195. SenatorCharlie -  October 26, 2012 - 7:08 am

    I love how you language nerds are not WHO ultimately decides what a language looks like. To hell with centrally planned, economies, ethics, and language!

    Reply
  196. Andres -  October 26, 2012 - 6:28 am

    I’ve also used the “he/him” rule, which almost always works wonderfully.

    If I expect a “him” as an answer, I ask for the whom. If I expect a he.
    —Who was affected?
    —He was affected
    —Whom did that affect?
    —It affected him.

    Reply
  197. KL -  October 26, 2012 - 5:18 am

    I am sad that it is going, but speaking is about communication, not just words fitting to rules, and using the word ‘whom’ gives a character impression of being pretentious, patronising and arrogant, because when you use it you sound like you are trying to be old-fashioned or posh, because these are what it is associated with.

    Language evolves. Goodbye ‘whom’, hello LOL.

    Reply
  198. Sr -  October 26, 2012 - 4:30 am

    :)

    Reply
  199. Moti Lal -  October 26, 2012 - 12:46 am

    I am overwhelemed with joy to read the various comments on the use of the word,”WHOM”. My concept about the use of the word, ‘whom’ is quite clear. I don’t now, to whom I must be thankful or who deserves the thanks?

    Reply
  200. del-einstein -  October 26, 2012 - 12:29 am

    Whom is a really cool word, let it be..let it be..says einstein!
    P.s: mind ur usage of it.

    Reply
  201. Sia -  October 25, 2012 - 11:05 pm

    Hmm…I was always told that if you wanted to check who/versus whom – ‘If the sentence makes sense with he, then you want who. If it makes sense with him – then you want whose.’ I was never told how to deal with ‘his’ though.

    Reply
  202. Sean -  October 25, 2012 - 10:27 pm

    ….Absolutely!!! You Tell Them Chocolate Chips!lol!

    Reply
  203. Dani -  October 25, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    “Whom” must stay!

    Reply
  204. McMuffinCakes4bout99centsOnlyatMcdonalds -  October 25, 2012 - 9:56 pm

    Mom, can we keep it!?

    Reply
  205. Lilian -  October 25, 2012 - 8:45 pm

    Whom is often found in Dear America and The Royal Diaries books. People used words that you would find oddly strange in modern times. People said thy and shan’t and whom. English is also a complex language to learn if it is your second language! Letters can make multiple sounds and some words need to be used in a certain way. Whom should be kept, because it is part of our complex language.

    I think that whom also describes a person too. If they say whom a lot, you will notice that they may possess accent. If you find that the person says who a lot, they will often possess little or no accent. But, clearly, it depends entirely on the person!

    Reply
  206. plaidsupersquid -  October 25, 2012 - 7:50 pm

    Hold up a minute… just for clarity’s sake, that isn’t how who/whom works. I’m no prescriptive grammarian and hence have no real opinion on whether whom should stick around, but the appropriate usage of the word has nothing to do with uncertainty.

    The rule of thumb I’ve always heard is this:

    1) If you’re asking a question that can be answered with him or her, use whom.
    2) If it can be answered with he or she, use who.
    3) Adjust accordingly for anything that’s not a question.

    This skips the linguistic mechanics of why it works this way (which I’m not particularly good at) but should help anyone avoid misusage.

    Reply
  207. Haley -  October 25, 2012 - 7:33 pm

    I think it’s a beautiful word and there should be more effort gone into using it. We shouldn’t let go of one of our last drops of Old English; It should be nurtured.

    Reply
  208. Erik Deckers -  October 25, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    Your assertion that the sentence “whom are you the guest of?” is wrong because it ends in a preposition is actually wrong. There are times you CAN end your sentences in a preposition.

    The easiest way to figure it out is to remove the preposition. If the sentence still makes sense — where’s it at? –> where is it? — the preposition SHOULD be removed. But if it does not make sense — what did you step in? –> what did you step? — the preposition can stay.

    The “no preposition at the end of a sentence” rule was created by Robert Lowth, a 17th century Latin scholar who tried to impose Latin rules on the English language, even though they never fit in the first place.

    I wrote about this here: http://problogservice.com/2009/11/11/five-grammar-myths-exploded/

    Reply
  209. A. Paul Ng -  October 25, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    Well, you are confusing the point when you say that “whom” has a mysterious connotation. In fact, you are missing the point completely. Any pronoun connotes mystery, hence the definition of a pronoun. However, the important characteristic of “whom” is it’s ability to be the objective-case pronoun in a sentence. For example, you would not say, “I will give the book to she” or ,”I went to the party with she”. It is as simple as that. Eliminating “whom” would eliminate logic and consistency in speech. And by the way, why is it that when something cannot be grasped, it is in danger of being eliminated? Could that be why misunderstood children are tormented by bullies? This is a deplorable state of things.

    Reply
  210. Alejo -  October 25, 2012 - 6:32 pm

    oh, okay, i get it, using present perfect with “yesterday” – a specific unique moment in the past… gotta be indefinite like “previously” or “before”… my bad, kdubs, you’re totally right… but the rest of you… still applies :-) toodles

    Reply
  211. Truth Lover -  October 25, 2012 - 6:19 pm

    I have never really understood the proper usage of “whom.” I did not even understand it when they were explaining it at the beginning of the post. But I am learning Latin, so when they threw in the “accusative” and “nominative” cases, I understood. The difference is the indirect object and subject of the sentence. I think we should keep whom. I always strive to sound educated when I speak, and this is one word we should keep in our vocabulary.

    Reply
  212. Alejo -  October 25, 2012 - 6:12 pm

    kdubs, r u 4 real? “Alejo, one would never say “whom you have met yesterday.” So one would never say ““This is John, whom you’ve met yesterday.” “Whom you have met previously” would work, though.”

    so, “whom you’ve met yesterday” would NEVER work, and “whom you’ve met PREVIOUSLY” would work just fine, eh? good to know… cause i was totally confused and out to lunch there… now i see it clear as day

    and, on another note, i’ve never read so much bizarre and stupid s*ite as i have in this comment section… were half of you like dropped repeatedly on the floor as babies? for chrissakes…

    Reply
  213. Andrew -  October 25, 2012 - 5:21 pm

    Dear Dictionary.com,
    Please. You can’t just sandwich a “technical explanation” in between two paragraphs of incorrect information. (“Technically, ‘whom’ is the objective-case pronoun of the subjective-case pronoun ‘who,’ where ’whom’ refers to the object of a sentence and ‘who’ refers to the subject. It’s the difference between the accusative form, ‘whom’ and the nominative form, ‘who.’”)

    The idea that “whom” is reserved for persons of unknown identity is absurd and needs to be taken out of this article, perhaps along with some amendment or an editor’s note.

    Reply
  214. Suzanne -  October 25, 2012 - 5:02 pm

    In response to kdubs, the “never end a sentence with a preposition rule” was taught to everyone with whom I attended school. I am sorry you missed it.

    In response to the original article, shame on the author, and even more shame on the person responsible for posting it.

    Reply
  215. Optimus Prime -  October 25, 2012 - 4:57 pm

    WHOM SHOULD DIE!

    Reply
  216. Vanessa -  October 25, 2012 - 4:56 pm

    If you’re proposing removing ‘whom’ from the lexicon, you might as well take out ‘him,’ ‘her,’ ‘them,’ ‘me,’ and ‘us.’

    Reply
  217. Austin -  October 25, 2012 - 4:55 pm

    I’m 15 years old and I use the word “whom.” I know many people don’t use it anymore, but that doesn’t mean we should just get rid of it! I like using whom, it’s a fun word and it makes your sentences seem much more formal! hahaha

    Reply
  218. Bex -  October 25, 2012 - 4:11 pm

    Yes it should be kept!! Should we have all of the different drill bits that exist because most of the world doesn’t use them or use them correctly? Of course! What carpenter could do his job without it? Words like whom and eloquent need to be kept around for the artisans that use them as building materials. We use 5x less words now than in the time of Shakespeare…isn’t that disheartening? We are rapidly producing garbage and when we get to the point where change is needed, we won’t have any of the words we need to communicate with! It may be difficult to understand and a lot of the new generation is more than happy being ignorant of grammatical rules but there are easier ways of comprehending..coming from someone with a learning disability.

    The difference is (in words) as simple as nominative and accusative cases…Nominitive is the subject and the accusative is the *noun* that is receiving the verb. Nominitive = who, accusative = whom

    My qwik-trick for knowing which to use (without thinking subject/object) is by using ‘he’ and ‘him’ to replace ‘who’ and ‘whom’ respectively in the sentence (usually in answer form..)
    Does that cup belong to him? – To whom does this cup belong? (or Whom does this cup belong to?)
    He went to the store – Who went to the store?

    If him makes sense in the sentence, you need to use whom. If him does NOT make sense, you need to use who. Helpful?

    Reply
  219. toby -  October 25, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    I think that doing away with a letter because people misuse it is not right. Who would ever do that? Should we only use realize instead of recognize just because they have similar meanings?

    Reply
  220. rachel -  October 25, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    Keep “whom”! It’s not that difficult to use!

    An easy way to remember:

    If it can be replaced with “he”, then it’s “who” – e.g. “Who drove the car?” could easily become “He drove the car.”.

    If it can be replaced with “him”, then it’s “whom” – e.g. “To whom did you send the letter?” becomes “You sent the letter to him.”.

    As simple as that! :)

    Reply
  221. George Kachmar -  October 25, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    I stand corrected, Lynn. I have been watching the debates and noticed I may have picked up a habit of not saying what I meant.

    Reply
  222. Mr. Whiteaker's Class -  October 25, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    Whom should still stay around because it is using proper grammar. Not using whom correctly can make you sound stupid, so know it, and use it correctly. Love, 7th Period :)

    Reply
  223. Adam -  October 25, 2012 - 2:59 pm

    It’s only ever confusing to anyone because of horrible explanations of its usage like the one in this post. It has nothing to do with whether or not the person is in front of the speaker or is the one being spoken to. It ONLY depends on whether the pronoun is performing the action (verb) or receiving the action (or is the object of the preposition). Simplified for people who don’t understand grammar, who = he and whom = him.

    Reply
  224. pjone8 -  October 25, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    “Whom” should definitely be kept! Call it a challenge or a last ditch effort to keep English and all of its wondrous parts alive. Part of English’s charm is how dynamic it is; however, there must be rules and standards so English can be taught and learned (ergo, the real issue is education).

    I do not fully agree with the “mystery” argument presented here; therefore, I shall simply stick to the direct/indirect object standard . . .

    Reply
  225. Nick Marsden -  October 25, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    The meaning has been well covered here but Hot word has ignored the rules of form – ie whom goes with prepositions for, by, to etc.
    Some of the people who have commented have raised this.
    I think its inclusion would help clarify the rules of FORM

    Reply
  226. Michael -  October 25, 2012 - 2:38 pm

    Keep it ! It is necessary to keep the language as variegated and precise as possible, so why anybody would even consider removal of such useful form of “who” is beyond me. English was originally not my native tongue, but with
    love of it and dedication to study it in any way accessible to me, short of attending the classes became for me just as comfortable channel of expression as to native English speaker.

    Reply
  227. RtB -  October 25, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    I despise all inflected languages! The cases, declensions, conjugations, moods, and other what-have-you are all just redundant nonsense invented by some jerk or jerkette centuries ago, and we’re forced to comply with this crap. The Asian languages got it right – adverbs will handle all this just fine. For example, ‘I will go tomorrow.’ Why do we need ‘will go’ when ‘tomorrow’ already tells us the future tense? Are we all idiots, blindly following a useless tradition? Continental European languages are even worse – a fork is masculine and a spoon is feminine? Give me a freaking break!

    Reply
  228. Danny -  October 25, 2012 - 2:29 pm

    Wow! WHO screwed up this article!!!

    Reply
  229. Charles -  October 25, 2012 - 2:22 pm

    We get to decide these things by voting? Whom decides who gets to vote? Whomever will likely lose, as whoever will not need to be identified in order to vote, and whomever becomes whoever as soon as she is identified. Thanks for explaining.

    Reply
  230. Eyewitness -  October 25, 2012 - 2:18 pm

    @ANDREW

    Just a moment to expand upon the usage of the nominative case. It is because the verb “to be” is an intransitive verb which takes the nominative case rather than the objective case that it is correct to say, “It is I.” rather than “It is me.” Also, when answering the telephone, if the caller says, “Is this so-and-so?” the correct reply is, “Ths is he/she.” rather than “This is me.” Best wishes. Talk it up! Nominative case ROCKS!!

    Reply
  231. Tony -  October 25, 2012 - 2:11 pm

    guys. please…shut up! your all constantly saying the same thing! who cares? oh i’m sorry. whom would care, since your all sooo grammar sensitive.

    i mean, i’m cool with this whole “whom” thing. really! but you guys are going apesh*t over a word…that nooobody cares about. i’m sure most people didn’t even know this word existed!

    cant we all just get along? i’m talking to you especially, john.

    Reply
  232. Eyewitness -  October 25, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    I have read a number of these responses and am gratified to realize others are well informed about the usage of “whom,” better in fact than the author of this blog. “Whom,” as others have noted, has nothing to do with mystery. That is a ridiculous overreach, it seems, to tie into the upcoming Halloween theme. “Whom” is simply the objective case of “who” and I personally use it freely, all the time, when speaking english, as in “Whom did you see at the party Saturday night?” The answer might be “Nancy, Joey, Ed, and Lois.” all people whom I would know. It has nothing to do with a lack of direct personal knowledge of others. I would not say, “Whom did you see at the party Saturday night?” because the reply might include the names of persons I might not know. Absurd. Dictionary.com, you owe your audience better information than this nonsense. Go back to class-English 101.

    It should most certainly be kept. Why should the sem-literate dictate language usage?

    @ANDREW Just a small, well-intentioned note concerning your first reply. If others have already mentioned this, I ‘speak’ with regret. I simply don’t have the time to read all the reponses to this Hot Word Blog. The reason it is proper to say “Who is that?” rather than “Whom is that?” is because the verb ‘to be’ [as in Who IS that?"] is an intransitive verb, which must take the nominative case, “Who,” rather than the objective case, “Whom.” If a transitive verb was used, then the objective case, “Whom” would be used, as in “Whom do you trust?” [NOT “Who do you trust.” Best wishes.

    Reply
  233. Mitchel -  October 25, 2012 - 2:09 pm

    Everyday communication has continued to become simpler and more fastfood, mainly due to technology, I guess. I think “whom” will hang around whether it “should” or not, because it will be a sign of an educated writer; it will separate the men from the boys.

    Reply
  234. Spearfame -  October 25, 2012 - 2:06 pm

    I always took ‘whom’ to be the object ‘who’ to be the subject
    e.g. “Who did what to whom?”, “Whom did you kill?” or even “You are the one to whom I am speaking”. There is as much mystery in ‘whom?’ as there is in ‘who?’

    Reply
  235. T. Kelly -  October 25, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    The author doesn’t know what he/she is talking about!
    We use WHO when the prounoun is the subject of a sentence or
    a predicate nominative. We use WHOM when the prounoun is
    an indirect object or the object of a preposition. It’s as simple as that.

    Reply
  236. El Craigo Loco -  October 25, 2012 - 1:28 pm

    The first commenter, Joel, starts his last sentence with the word “But”, and the second commenter, Andrew, starts his third paragraph with the word “And”, which are both conjunctions. Please forgive me, but I must be from the “old school” that says one should never start a sentence with a conjunction.

    Reply
  237. Zoomway -  October 25, 2012 - 1:14 pm

    The author said the word “whom” would include anyone in a mask. Wouldn’t that change the The Lone Ranger’s tagline to “Whom was that masked man?” And there’s a little place in the Dr Seuss universe where the mail could not be delivered because the letter carrier stubbornly believed the town should be called Whomville. Worst of all, Dr Who Subjective could meet Dr Whom Objective and cause the destruction of the universe, like matter and anti-matter touching. I say get rid of “whom” because too many lives are at stake.

    Reply
  238. Andrew -  October 25, 2012 - 1:13 pm

    To whom are you asking this question?

    Reply
  239. Cindy Jones -  October 25, 2012 - 12:40 pm

    I concur Kerry. This is how I remember when to use who or whom.

    If I can replace the word WHO with “he,” “she,” or “they” then who should be used.

    If I can replace the word WHOM with “him,” “her,” or “them” then whom should be used.

    Reply
  240. kdubs -  October 25, 2012 - 12:06 pm

    Alejo, one would never say “whom you have met yesterday.” So one would never say ““This is John, whom you’ve met yesterday.” “Whom you have met previously” would work, though.

    In any case, I can’t believe no one picked up on the “preposition at the end of a sentence” claim. There is no such rule.

    Even the oxford dictionary has a post on this: It’s filed under “myths.”

    http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/11/grammar-myths-prepositions/

    Reply
  241. haliburton76 -  October 25, 2012 - 12:04 pm

    Andrew is absolutely right. It has nothing to do with mystery. It’s a simple matter of subject vs. object, or nominative vs. accusative case. “Who” equates with “he,” and “whom” equates with “him.” You would never say, “I came with he,” but many people ask, “You came with who?” However, I have long thought that the grammar should be amended so that “whom” is incorrect as the first word of a sentence that is a question. “Whom did you see?” and “Whom did you vote for?” just sound ridiculous. I would call this the “Interrogative case.” Yes, it does nudge out a few uses of “whom.”

    Reply
  242. From Parker's Pen -  October 25, 2012 - 11:33 am

    If ‘Whom’ is killed off, then John and me is going to the funeral.
    To who do I send the flowers to?
    And whom will drive us there, cause us shall be so sad?

    (And then this writer/copy editor woke up screeeeaming : )

    Reply
  243. john -  October 25, 2012 - 11:22 am

    Agree with Phil. The whole article is simply wrong and confusing people. Take it down and, more importantly, don’t let someone write a blog about grammar if they don’t know what the heck they’re talking about!

    Reply
  244. christopher -  October 25, 2012 - 11:17 am

    Yes, as an avid follower of this blog, I am disappointed. I have to wonder if there is a new blogger at dictionary.com. Not only was it incorrect, this article was poorly written.

    Reply
  245. Dieter Simon -  October 25, 2012 - 11:01 am

    Apart from being an interrogative (“whom did you see”), ‘whom’ is also a relative pronoun used for the object that has preceded your statement: “The man whom you saw earlier” (the man being the object). Where I would have thought it being absolutely obligatory, is in its use with “to”, such as “the detective to whom you gave a statement” or “whom you gave a statement to”. It would just sound incorrect to say “…to who you gave a statement”, surely?
    Although, I know, you hear more and more often these days: “…the man you gave the letter to” where no “who” or “whom” is used at all.

    Reply
  246. Phil Chapman -  October 25, 2012 - 10:51 am

    This is absolute nonsense. ‘Whom’ is merely the accusative form of the pronoun. It is to ‘who’ as ‘them’ is to ‘they,’ ‘him’ to ‘he’, or ‘her’ to ‘she.’ Use ‘who’ when it is the subject of a verb, and ‘whom’ when it is the object of a verb. Thus you would say “Who hit the boy?” because the pronoun refers to the subject of the verb (i.e., the hitter) but “The boy hit whom?” because here it refers to the object (i.e., the person who was hit).

    The author of this blog should be ashamed of spreading such rubbish. Please replace it forthwith with an apology and a correction.

    Reply
  247. Lisa -  October 25, 2012 - 10:48 am

    I may be grossly mistaken, but I think your explanation of ‘whom’ might be incorrect. Am I crazy, or isn’t ‘whom’ simply the accusative version of the nominative ‘who?’ Who is a teacher? He is a teacher. But: John teaches whom? John teaches him. The same difference between the nominative He and the accusative Him is what differentiates who and whom.

    Reply
  248. john -  October 25, 2012 - 10:45 am

    Hilarious! Greg and TS are correct. Ironically, the author of this article doesn’t even understand the difference between who and whom himself! It has nothing to do with the subjunctive form or any of the rest of that.

    It’s simple: “who” is the subject (nominative form); “whom” is the object (accusative form). Period.

    It’s like the difference between I and me:
    “I gave the ball to him.” “I” is the subject.
    “He gave the ball to me.” “Me” is the object.
    “Who gave you the ball?” “Who” is the subject.
    “He gave the ball to whom?” “Whom” is the object.

    Sadly, the word “whom” is doomed in a world where even college graduates say things like: “Me and her are going to to class.”

    Reply
  249. Mona -  October 25, 2012 - 10:33 am

    To Whom It May Concern,

    The word, whom is available for use and it should remain that way.

    Whom is to say, it’s not worth keeping. Just don’t use it if unsure of correct usage, or if it sounds too proper, or for any reason – JUST DO NOT USE WHOM.
    Even though I’m going through a challenging, irritating, and most of all unnecessary time, I’m taking the time to email because whom is a word I veered from using. Now, I can use it with confidence because of you.

    No matter if a word is taken out of the dictionary or never made it in, people will choose the words they want to use; to err or not to err, is the speaker’s choice. You know, we have freedom of speech.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!
    Mona S.

    Reply
  250. ada -  October 25, 2012 - 10:23 am

    Absolutely

    Reply
  251. WHOM | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  October 25, 2012 - 10:17 am

    [...] “WHOM” is it you’re speaking? — At Daily Words we’re often peeking. — To be an [...]

    Reply
  252. Fish -  October 25, 2012 - 10:15 am

    Unfortunately, I think this post is largely wrong, or at least misleading!

    Both “who” and “whom” refer, when used as interrogative (i.e. question-asking) pronouns to unknown identities – neither is about “mystery” any more than the other. After all, you wouldn’t ask someone who they were if you already knew their identity!
    The difference is rather one of case. You mentioned the use of “whom” after a preposition like “to” or “with”. In this circumstance, the relevant thing is the object of the sentence, rather than the subject. The distinction is just the same as that between “he” and “him”, or “she” and “her.” For example:

    You are called Tom. Who are you? (‘You’ is the subject of the sentence)
    I addressed the letter to you. To whom did I address the letter? (‘You’ is the object.)

    But the preposition is not the only thing that can change the case – if you’re doing something to something else, that thing is the object of the sentence and its identity, if a person, can be questioned with whom:

    I asked you a question. Whom did I ask? (‘You’ is again the object.)

    The way to work out if “whom” belongs in a sentence is by seeing whether “him” or “her” would fit in its place:

    He is called Tom. (Not “him is called Tom”, so “who” when asking a question)
    I addressed the letter to her (Not “I addressed the question to she”, so “whom”)
    I asked him a question (Not “I asked he a question”, so “whom”)

    Note that “him” even ends with an “m” to remind you have the ending of “whom”!

    It’s also worth mentioning that in colloquial English, “whom” is never necessary – all of the above “whom”-sentences can be rewritten with “who” and will sound fine, and indeed less formal. “Whom” is a useful tool to have at your disposal in case you ever need to write something in a formal context, but this blog post won’t be any help to anyone confused as to how to use it correctly! Perhaps this comment will.

    Reply
  253. sarah zamarad -  October 25, 2012 - 10:14 am

    ok this is interesting

    Reply
  254. Deyan -  October 25, 2012 - 10:10 am

    Sorry, I mean ‘forget’.

    Reply
  255. Renee Riley -  October 25, 2012 - 10:10 am

    Who would dare to make texter have to think or slow down?

    Reply
  256. SalMan -  October 25, 2012 - 10:04 am

    I’d like to see a blog on prepositions at the end of the sentence, as suggested on your last post… I had enough of who/whom speal…

    Reply
  257. Odnamra Zeuqirnam -  October 25, 2012 - 9:58 am

    Funny, if you say whom long enough, it begins to sound weird.

    Reply
  258. Marianne -  October 25, 2012 - 9:57 am

    ‘who’ when it’s the subject or object of a verb. ‘whom’ when it’s the object of a proposition.

    Who came with whom, to whose party?

    Reply
  259. Deyan -  October 25, 2012 - 9:56 am

    I will always refer ‘whom’ to Metallica’s song title, “For whom the bell tolls”. For whom it tolls you never know. There is no way to forgive this song, so personally, I am gonna keep ‘whom’ alive.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  260. william conner -  October 25, 2012 - 9:55 am

    I do think it is worth keeping. Whom wouldn’t?

    Reply
  261. Trevor McVeety -  October 25, 2012 - 9:46 am

    It’s not worth keeping. English is a living language, and there’s never any point in trying to force people to keep archaic grammatical constructs. It’s never worked for any language, it’s never worked for English, and it will never work.

    Reply
  262. Ashley -  October 25, 2012 - 9:44 am

    Most excellent!!! I had always wondered about the correct use of this word.
    p.s. leaving comments on such a blog is very risky for “one’s net-cred”. You never know whom is criticizing your words. Is there such a saying as “whom-so-ever?”

    Reply
  263. luvmonkey -  October 25, 2012 - 9:39 am

    I am thrilled with this post! I don’t care if it makes me sound dumb, I had no idea beyond ‘to whom it may concern’ how to use that word. I believe I will try to sneak it into a sentance today. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  264. cynthia -  October 25, 2012 - 9:36 am

    Absolutely! Incorrect English, most especially in commercial print grates on my soul! Sounds extreme but when you are a careful listener of people’s words this is the case. Thanks for listening to me.

    Reply
  265. Zelie Bougenot -  October 25, 2012 - 9:35 am

    To whom this may concern:
    I believe only smart and wise people know how to correctly use this word. Whom is a worthy word, and we must use it more often during our daily life. I love this word, It is very clever, but now a days when I say it all I get told is “I beg your pardon?” Most people do not even know how to use this word, most have no clue what it means. But we should start using It more! Whom! Whom! Whom! Lets start the revolution of the whoms!

    Reply
  266. svenjamin -  October 25, 2012 - 9:25 am

    This explanation is inaccurate and untrue almost completely. Whom is an objective pronoun. That means it is the object of a verb. Subjunctive refers to the tense… of a verb, not a noun. AND, nosotros and vosotros are two different groups of people – we (1st person plural, a group of us), you (2nd person plural, a group of you). ‘Vosotros’ is an informal pronoun, the formal word used form a group of you is ‘ustedes’. Very poor research on this article and/or lack of editing. It’s unfortunate since grammar in our country is on the downswing anyway. We need to be careful when acting as an informational resource. Whom shall I say is responsible for this false information?

    Reply
  267. Dee Potts -  October 25, 2012 - 9:24 am

    Yes! Keep ‘whom’… I absolutely LOVE this word and I do find it necessary to use from time to time.

    Reply
  268. C Smith -  October 25, 2012 - 9:20 am

    You can make up all the reasons you like, but in real life, ‘whom’ is the objective case of ‘who’. That is why it is ‘To whom’, ‘With whom’, and ‘Of whom’ in the examples above, because it is the object of the preposition, not because it refers to someone in the plural or someone who is unknown to the speaker.

    Reply
  269. Daniel Blubberhead -  October 25, 2012 - 9:05 am

    YESH

    Reply
  270. JasminBlms -  October 25, 2012 - 9:05 am

    Whom is an objective pronoun. Who is a subjective pronoun. In the instance above regarding the party, whom is used as the object of a preposition. Whom is the object of with and of.

    Reply
  271. Alejo -  October 25, 2012 - 9:04 am

    Yes, whom can be useful on the rarest of occasions but not in the examples given above in the article, “with whom did you come?” sounds bad enough, but “of whom are you a guest?” is not even English… seriously…
    in this case, the most natural would be “who did you come with?”… dangling preposition? big deal!…. the only example I can think of where “whom” does not sound superfluous and pretentious is: “This is John, whom you’ve met yesterday.”

    Reply
  272. honey jones -  October 25, 2012 - 9:02 am

    I think all words should still be used… It leaves the human brain active… the less words that we have the less understanding that we have… nothing wrong with having a good vocabulary… its a difference between sounding educated and being educated… so keep the words

    Reply
  273. TS -  October 25, 2012 - 8:53 am

    I was under the impression that “who” acts as a subject (correspondent to the nominative in a declined language) whereas “whom” acts as an object. So “I love my friend Alex, who is dancing with the mayor” would be correct because “who” is the subject of “is dancing” (and, incidentally, refers back to “Alex”, originally the object of “love”). But I would also need to say, “Dancing with the mayor is my friend Alex, whom I love” because “whom” is the object of “love” (though the antecedent, “Alex” is in the first place a subject rather than an object, which admittedly makes the clause grammatically correct but aesthetically displeasing).

    With whom is the mayor dancing? Alex.
    Who is dancing with the mayor? Alex.

    No?

    Reply
  274. Greg -  October 25, 2012 - 8:52 am

    Are you serious? “Who” is a subjective-case pronoun; “whom” is an objective-case pronoun. Period. “Whom” is proper usage in the objective case regardless of whether the object of a clause or sentence is known or unknown. “Who” is never the object of a clause, and “whom” is never the subject.”

    Nosotros and vosotros simply mean “us” and “you” (plural, informal) in Spanish. They are used in all cases and tenses have nothing to do with the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is indeed used in Spanish when the object of a sentence or clause is unknown, but the subjunctive mood is expressed in the verb ending, not in any pronoun.

    Reply
  275. professor sally -  October 25, 2012 - 8:50 am

    I do think it is worth keeping. But I don’t think we should be judgemental of those that choose not to use it. I like words that enhance the sound or cadence of our language. I think whom adds some beauty to English. I miss thee and thou.

    Reply
  276. Alina -  October 25, 2012 - 8:47 am

    I was taught that “whom” should always be used after a preposition instead of “who”. In this article, the author has used “whom” correctly, although this very important rule was not even mentioned.

    Reply
  277. Bubba -  October 25, 2012 - 8:37 am

    Keep it? Absolutely! There are far too many good words falling by the wayside of our text induced laziness. We are in danger of losing what little poetry is left in our short-sighted short hand. Soon we’ll all think and speak in binary code and to hell with Willy and Shelly and the crew we all once loved and knew.

    Reply
  278. Galia -  October 25, 2012 - 8:34 am

    Thank you for the post. It was an excellent explanation of a pronoun that I know I have misused before. As to keep it or not, I like using it from time to time, but I wonder whether it will be around 50 years from now?

    Reply
  279. George Kachmar -  October 25, 2012 - 8:28 am

    Whoever wrote the explanation about the proper use of “whom” really missed the mark. It doesn’t have anything to do with being known or unknown. Any pronoun, when it becomes the object of a preposition,is changed to suit. Example: Whoever approved the above explanation of the use of “Whom” should be more careful about whom he allows to blog.

    Reply
  280. K. Lyn -  October 25, 2012 - 8:26 am

    I thought “whom” was the object of the sentence while “who” was the subject?

    Reply
  281. I'm here too -  October 25, 2012 - 8:25 am

    I thought “whom” was just the objective case of “who.” Read every instance of the word “whom” in the article above, and you will see this. The difference between “who” and “whom” is the same as the difference between “he” and “him”. You ask, “With whom did you come?” I could answer, “I came with him.” If you had asked, “With WHO did you come?”, then perhaps I could answer, “I came with HE.” My grammatical correctness would be identical to yours, since the pronoun who/whom (in your question) and the pronoun he/him (in my response) are both used as the object of the preposition “with,” and should be used in the objective case.

    Reply
  282. who's there -  October 25, 2012 - 8:23 am

    I’ve never posted anything here, but I feel compelled to now– this post is simply incorrect. I’m not going to expound on the differences between who and whom, but it has little to do with mystery and everything to do with grammar. Please, if you would like to better inform yourself, do look up the difference in a more reliable source, and then use the correct form. Oh, and “To Whom it May Concern” as a greeting could almost certainly never confuse a CEO with a vendor in the street as I think there are few letters addressed to one that would concern the other. Is it me or is this site becoming a little more sloppy and a little less dependable? Pity.

    Reply
  283. Mr. Whiteaker's Class -  October 25, 2012 - 8:15 am

    Absolutely! It is imperative that we know when it is appropriate to use ‘whom’ so that we sound intelligent when we speak because we don’t want to sound dumb.

    Reply
  284. Kmarque2 -  October 25, 2012 - 8:10 am

    Yes, keep it! I don’t want our language to be “dumbed” down more than what it already is.

    Reply
  285. mike -  October 25, 2012 - 8:03 am

    I still use “whom” often. I am glad to have been educated by a good English school. I guess the people who do not use it probably don’t know how.

    Reply
  286. Ray Chapman -  October 25, 2012 - 7:56 am

    I believe that ”Whom” should be kept in use and it, along with the rest of the subject of grammar, should be vigorously taught in our schools. Having read articles written recently by school leavers, I am often appalled at the almost non existence of punctuation and correct spelling. It concerns me greatly to see the plummeting decline of the quality of both spoken and written English.

    Reply
  287. Venu Dasigi -  October 25, 2012 - 7:55 am

    I have always thought of whom as the version of who, but used in the “accusative case”, e.g., as the object of a verb or a pronoun.

    All the examples of the use of “whom” in the above post are one or the other.

    With whom did you come? Of whom are you a guest? To whom it may concern… [Object of a pronoun]

    Other examples: Whom do you want as your dance partner? [Object of a verb, the answer to which could be: Him or Her, rather than He or She.]

    Reply
  288. S.Oliveira Perez -  October 25, 2012 - 7:52 am

    Keep it! Our country is producing an excessive amount of slang terms making us sound quite uneducated. Like most words, “whom” has it’s rightful place in our vocabulary. Why delete and lower our standards? One would hope that people would aspire to sound intelligible and desire to be intelligent.

    Reply
  289. heather -  October 25, 2012 - 7:47 am

    YESSSSSSSSSSS! Keep it.

    Reply
  290. Rebecca -  October 25, 2012 - 7:42 am

    I like the mysterious approach of the word “whom”. I think that is the beauty of the English language and language in general. The intonations you can give to words and dialogue. I think “whom” is 100% a keeper!

    Reply
  291. Kerry Swatridge -  October 25, 2012 - 7:37 am

    I don’t know if I’ve misunderstood what you’re trying to say, but “whom” is nothing to do with whether the person is known or unknown. “Whom” is to “who” as “him” is to “he” (and “me” is to “I”, “her” is to “she”, “us” is to “we”). It’s the object form. You can perfectly well use it for people whose identity you know: “The letter was from my father, to whom I had recently sent a parcel”.

    Reply
  292. bill brautigam -  October 25, 2012 - 7:36 am

    Yes!
    My father was an English teacher in the 50′s and came up with this mnemonic device, to the tune of “Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-de-ay:”
    “I we they he she who;
    Me us them him her whom.”
    If you would say “him,” you would say “whom.”
    The problem, of course, is that folks are so ignorant now, they no longer know to say, “it is I,” so they then err and say, “whom shall I say is calling.” Abandon all hope!
    Not knowing whether to say “I” or “me,” people frequently say the reflexive “myself,” which is almost ALWAYS wrong!

    Reply
  293. Ole TBoy -  October 25, 2012 - 7:34 am

    Before I comment on this I need to know to whom I am speaking. But, seriously, whom definitely is worth keeping. Just this morning I wrote a letter of recommendation addressed “To Whom It May Concern.” Whom is an invaluable word, despite its infrequent use. I seldom refer to someone as incorrigible, but I would not want to lose the word because sometime I assuredly will need it.

    Reply
  294. adedamola ogbontolu -  October 25, 2012 - 7:33 am

    ‘Whom’ is a pronoun that is used to refer to a person in object position.
    E.g
    She loves daddy
    While ‘She’ is the subject, ‘daddy’ is the object

    ‘Whom’ refers to the object:
    Whom does she love?
    Daddy
    Who loves daddy?
    She
    After every preposition, ‘whom’ is the only correct choice
    As in:
    … in whom i am well pleased

    Reply
  295. BH -  October 25, 2012 - 7:25 am

    Wow. It’s too early. The writer should be fired, not the article. Looks like I should have proofread.

    Reply
  296. BH -  October 25, 2012 - 7:24 am

    This is absolute baloney. Does the writer have a single clue about the difference between whom and who? “Whom” is the object of a preposition and not the subject of a sentence. This article is complete and utter nonsense and should be fired immediately.

    Reply
  297. Srsly tho -  October 25, 2012 - 7:20 am

    Whom cares?

    Reply
  298. logorrhea -  October 25, 2012 - 7:19 am

    I don’t think this is correct, or at least, I’ve never heard this explanation about whether the person is known or unknown. I’ve always learned that “who” is a subject pronoun and “whom” is an object pronoun.

    Reply
  299. Manoj -  October 25, 2012 - 7:16 am

    WoW!!! I never knew this. This is such a valuble information to know about and cool too!

    So far I have never even wondered about this. The difference is huge.

    Nice learning I would say. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  300. Marie -  October 25, 2012 - 7:14 am

    Yes, it’s a keeper.

    Reply
  301. Joker -  October 25, 2012 - 7:14 am

    Whomever cares… :-)

    Reply
  302. Judith Lewis -  October 25, 2012 - 7:03 am

    Great information. Very helpful to me.

    Reply
  303. Andrew -  October 25, 2012 - 6:46 am

    Hmm… sorry about the repeated entry. When a friend came to the page to read my comment, he said it wasn’t there; and when I came to check, it did not appear for me either. Now it’s showing up twice. Headscratch.

    Reply
  304. Andrew -  October 25, 2012 - 6:46 am

    I’m sorry, but if you think that the use of “whom” is dictated by a sense of mystery, you are seriously misinformed. “Whom” is simply the objective form of “who” which you use when the unknown person is having an action performed upon them rather than performing it themselves. “The man whom I saw” would be correct because the man is being seen by someone else and is not doing the seeing himself. “To whom” or “of whom” is correct not because of mystery but because “who” is the object of a preposition. This is the same thing as saying “with me” instead of “with I”. The case changes to clarify the meaning.
    Since English is a language which doesn’t show many case distinctions, native English speakers are often sketchy about this topic. I had similar trouble when a kid, and it helped to learn other languages which DID make those kinds of distinctions. In any case, the difference between cases has absolutely nothing to do with a desire to seem mysterious.

    Reply
  305. Josh -  October 25, 2012 - 6:44 am

    This was super nice and I’m glad I read it.

    Reply
  306. Mike Weiner -  October 25, 2012 - 6:40 am

    “Whom” is most definitely worth keeping. As a Quality Assurance professional, part of my job is making sure things are worded correctly (hence my happening upon this post), and I’ve passively insisted on the proper use of “whom” over and over at work. Its to the point where the developers trust me more than their own writing. And to borrow from Martha Stewart, that’s a good thing. :)

    Reply
  307. Glen Meyer -  October 25, 2012 - 6:34 am

    I love your article. Whom was drilled into me during my 8th Grade English class. The usage has stuck with me for the past 30 years. Good to see it found a way to rise again. Keep the great articles coming.

    Sincerley,
    Glen Meyer

    Reply
  308. Anon -  October 25, 2012 - 6:33 am

    Yup. I just think it sounds cool.

    Reply
  309. Parker -  October 25, 2012 - 6:30 am

    In “Of whom are you a guest?” the quandary is whether the case of the pronoun is determined by the preposition “of’” or the verb “are” which is a linking verb that demands the case following match the case preceding. Rearrange the interrogative into a declaration: You are a guest of who(m), and you see that “whom” as an object of the preposition “of” must be in the objective, not nominative case. Whom and its kith and kin honor precision in language use. Their loss impoverishes the language.

    Reply
  310. Mary Ann -  October 25, 2012 - 6:28 am

    Without “whom”, with whom could I communicate?

    Reply
  311. Judi Bolinger -  October 25, 2012 - 6:21 am

    I have a dog rescue magnet on my car that drives me crazy because it says: “Who Rescued Who?” Even my children who are NorthWestern University graduates didn’t realize that it should say “Who rescued Whom?”

    Reply
  312. Andrew -  October 25, 2012 - 6:16 am

    I’m sorry, but if your idea of the use of “whom” has to do with its including mystery or uncertainty, you are seriously misinformed. “Whom” is simply the objective case for the word “who”. “With whom” is used because it is preceded by a preposition (just as you’d say “with me” instead of “with I”). Same thing with “to whom”. You would also use “whom” in a situation like “the man whom I saw yesterday” because YOU were the one doing the seeing, and the man is the object. If you said “the man who saw me” that would mean that the man was doing the seeing and YOU were the object.

    Reply
  313. David -  October 25, 2012 - 6:06 am

    This is a very misleading article. It seems to be implying that ‘who’ should be used when referring to a known person and ‘whom’ to an unknown one (as though the example on the front page, ‘whom is dying’ is correct. In fact ‘who’ is used when referring to the subject of a sentence, and ‘whom’ when referring to its object.

    Reply
  314. María Rosa Martínez -  October 25, 2012 - 6:04 am

    Of course it is worth keeping. Its correct use should be taught widely with suitable examples as given above.
    Perhaps authors of English books for teaching foreigners should keep this in mind and reserve emphatically a special place for this word.

    Reply
  315. KnowBull -  October 25, 2012 - 5:58 am

    The baby was nurtured from cradle to whom?
    Whom am I trying to kid ?

    Reply
  316. Kerry -  October 25, 2012 - 5:54 am

    Wait a second, this explanation is completely wrong! The criterion is not whether something is known to you or not; it is purely a question of grammatical use: ‘who’ is a subject, ‘whom’ is an object. It’s as simply as that. Your examples even support this: “who are you again?” Subject! “With whom did you come?” Object (of the preposition ‘with’)! ‘Whom’ can’t be used as a subject, even if its placement can be deceptive (in ‘Whom did you see at the party?’, ‘whom’ is still an object! ‘You’ is the subject).

    Second point: “Over the past 200 years written use of the pronoun whom has declined by half, and half again over the last 50. It makes sense. In the colloquial world of email and texting, thinking about the correct usage of whom can just slow writers down.” What? When did we start emailing and texting? This trend clearly precedes the digital age!

    Reply
  317. Ira 0 -  October 25, 2012 - 5:51 am

    Every case in your article follows the 2 basic rules of “whom”:
    a: the object of a preposition uses “whom” (“to whom”, “with whom”, “about whom” & “of whom” in your article are all “whom” because of the preposition, not because they are unknown)
    b: the verb “to be” always takes the subjective case (who) and never the objective case (whom), whether known or unknown.

    test case: “Who are you & who is the man in the mask who just came in?” is correct, but by your rules the unknown second man in the mask would/should be referred to as “whom.”

    “Who are you” is correct because “are” is a form of “to be”. Thus when the Lone Ranger comes into the room, no one knows who he is (verb “to be”) because his identity is unknown. But someone will ask “Who is that man in the mask? (verb “to be” even in an unknown gets “who”, not “whom”)

    I have never heard of your rule of known

    Reply
  318. Allison Wright -  October 25, 2012 - 5:47 am

    To whom it may concern:
    “Whom” is the form of the relative pronoun “who”, when “who” has assumed the position of the direct object or indirect object in a sentence.
    It has nothing to do with whether you know the identity of the person to whom you are referring!
    e.g. Jane is the beautiful woman with whom I have had a loving relationship for over ten years.
    e.g. Mr J Smith, to whom your letter was addressed, no longer works for this company.
    e.g. The homemade cakes were not eaten by Jane, for whom they were intended.
    I definitely do think the word “whom” is worth keeping. “Whom” is a word without which I cannot write intelligibly, whether or not I know who will read what I write.
    Who vets these blog posts? That is the person (or committee) with whom I would like to communicate!

    Reply
  319. Lilac Lavender -  October 25, 2012 - 5:42 am

    It’s sad that Old English words are dying, we should keep whom on board. I think that’s like been around for centuries. We keep it going, We should try to do a whom revival or something.

    Reply
  320. John -  October 25, 2012 - 5:36 am

    Whom gives a @#$%? In any kind of conversation, people would rear up and ask “whom speaketh thusly?” if you dropped “whom” into a sentence. Disappearing like blacksmiths, a lot of words are no longer used and therefore no longer understood by the listener. When was the last time you heard “amongst” or “whither”.

    Reply
  321. Brutus Blue -  October 25, 2012 - 5:32 am

    It should be used in this sentence only: Whom are you speaking toom?

    Reply
  322. Joe Smith -  October 25, 2012 - 5:28 am

    Oh my goodness.

    I can’t believe you’ve published this article without actually understanding the distinction between who and whom.

    “Whom” is simply a correct inflection of “who” and has absolutely nothing to do with whether the person is known or not, and everything to do with whether the pronoun is subject or object of the sentence; although it is commonly omitted for direct objects, it’s almost invariably used in conjunction with prepositions and indirect objects.

    “Whom” certainly is dead if its survival is dependent on people like you!

    Reply
  323. johnesh -  October 25, 2012 - 5:28 am

    “Whom” is not only not dead, it’s not rare either. I use “whom” ALL THE TIME and so do many people whom I know. (See what I did there?) The way you describe “whom” here, whilst accurate, tells only half the story. Basically, “whom” is the form of “who” used when it is the object of a verb, “The man whom I saw yesterday” – albeit this usage is becoming much less common – or of a preposition, “The man to whom I was talking yesterday”. And whilst whom certainly CAN refer “to a person whose identity is unknown”, it can just as easily refer to a person whose identity IS known: “Tommy, to whom I was talking yesterday”.

    Reply
  324. Lygia Natalie -  October 25, 2012 - 5:08 am

    Great article! I think that whom is worth keeping. In my country (Trinidad and Tobago) it is still used among some. Another thing, in the example you used, …(You could say “whom are you the guest of?”, maybe this can be read as, “Of whom are you a guest?”

    Reply
  325. Theo -  October 25, 2012 - 5:07 am

    This explanation is incorrect. Whom is an object pronoun, as opposed to a subject pronoun. Simple.

    Reply
  326. Boone -  October 25, 2012 - 4:58 am

    The word “whom” should be kept and grammar should be taught and upheld in every subject. It is sadly thought of as floccinaucinihilipilification to some people.

    Reply
  327. Jacques Guillot -  October 25, 2012 - 4:47 am

    Interesting analysis. But whom is the objective case of the word “who.” To whom – object of the preposition “to.” With whom did you come – object of “with.” Of whom – object of “of.”

    Nosotros is the first person plural subject pronoun (“we”). Vosotros is the second person plural subject pronoun (“you”, “ya’ll”).

    Subjunctive is a verb mood; it applies to verbs, not pronouns.

    Reply
  328. Doron Adoron -  October 25, 2012 - 4:45 am

    I think that “whom” is absolutely needed.

    For those who know what a “subject” and an “object” of a verb or a preposition are: Use “whom” when it is the “object”. (That same rule applies to many other Indo-European languages).

    To me, someone who does not use “whom” sounds careless, or ignorant of the proper usage of English.

    Reply
  329. Juli Wordgirl -  October 25, 2012 - 4:18 am

    Of course ‘whom’ should remain in the English lexicon. English speakers who do understand subjective v. objective cases know when and how to use whom. I use it all the time. I also use ‘big words,’ which people complain of since they don’t know the meaning so instead of ask what the words mean, I shouldn’t use words people don’t “get.” It’s the same with whom, if it’s not common or the rules are too hard, blame the speaker of being a snob and continue in ignorance. (The same problem exists with I v. me: me used at beginning of sentences preceding the other subject, “Me and Ben went . . .” But if you help by stating that
    it’s “Ben and I” people get pissed, or vice versa ending a sentence with ‘I’ when it should be me.” Forget using whom, let get people to use ‘I’ and ‘me’ correctly — before that whomsoever will always struggle with using whom. Word up!!

    Reply
  330. Ahmed abdelfattah -  October 25, 2012 - 4:06 am

    Hi ,

    yes , I think whom is worth keeping , because I don’t know any other expression to replace it , if you know please tell me ,

    thank you

    Reply
  331. Arthur Francksen -  October 25, 2012 - 4:03 am

    Whom has nothing to do with proximity or knowledge of the person, although such contextual information may play into the word’s likely role in sentences.

    “Whom” is “who” in the oblique case, a conglomeration of the dative, absolute, and genitive (with prepositions) cases. “Who are you again” is correct because linking verbs take the same nominative case. But “Whom did you bring” or “With whom did you come” have “whom” as the object of a transitive verb and of a preposition, respectively.

    By way of analogy, “who” is used wherever “I” would be used in a sentence, whereas “whom” is used wherever “me” would be used. who : I :: whom : me

    Reply
  332. Mabel Roberts-Cole -  October 25, 2012 - 3:53 am

    YES, most definately…..Whom is a proper promoun because of the unknown .

    Reply
  333. David -  October 25, 2012 - 3:35 am

    Whom has nothing to do with being a mystery, just with being an object. I know who Bob is. Bob is my friend. Bob is also the one to whom I gave my car. I know who you are. You are the one who wrote this article. You are also the one to whom I am writing this note.

    Reply
  334. chocolatechips12347 -  October 25, 2012 - 3:03 am

    definitely!!! I say use whom regularly. I don’t believe that any word should be removed from the dictionary, because someone will always use it.

    Reply
  335. Joseph Leedy -  October 25, 2012 - 2:46 am

    To whom it may concern, my opinion is thus:
    Verily; it is dying and it is worth saving.

    Reply
  336. James Pharaoh -  October 25, 2012 - 2:41 am

    I’m afraid you don’t seem to understand the use of who/whom correctly at all. Who is the subject and whom is the object, and their usage follows the use, for example, of “I” and “me”. It is purely a grammatical construction and has nothing to do with the “unknown”.

    I also can’t make sense of your reference to Spanish. Nosostros means “we” or “us” and vosotros means “you” (in the plural). I don’t see the relevance there. The subjunctive also has nothing to do with pronouns, and is a “mood” in which verbs can be conjugated.

    That said, you have managed to use who and whom correctly in all your examples:

    “Hello, who are you again?” Although the word “who” is being used as the object here, it is used with a linking verb (to be) and so the subject form is correct.

    “With whom did you come?” The word “whom” here follows the preposition “with” and so the object form is always used.

    “Of whom are you a guest?” This time the preposition “of” mandates the object form.

    “To whom it may concern” Again a preposition, this time “to”.

    James

    Reply
  337. AM -  October 25, 2012 - 2:29 am

    I’m sorry, but this article does not explain the difference between “who” and “whom” and therefore its ‘correct’ usage. It has nothing to do “not knowing the identity of the person about whom you’re asking”, this is a general feature or interrogatives and the semantic distinction proposed here simply depends on context. Consider this example:

    “Who left their wallet here?”

    You obviously don’t know the identity of the person in question (otherwise why would you be asking?) and yet using ‘whom’ in this case is simply ungrammatical:

    *”Whom left their wallet here?”

    The distinction between who and whom goes back to English’s much depleted case-marking system. In English, the case system has been vastly reduced but still exists as a relict in the pronoun system:

    Nominative (subject) case: He came into the room
    ‘Accusative/Dative’ (object) case: I saw him
    Genitive case: Those are his shoes.

    (And: “I, me, my” – “she, her, her”)

    The simple fact is that ‘who’ also shows case:

    Nom: Who came to the party ?
    Acc: Who(m) did you speak to last night?
    Gen: Whose shoes are these?

    The fact is that the broad subject/object distinction for ‘who’ has been declining for some time (a perfectly normal development), but the basic distinction remains the same. So saying something like:

    “Whom is the smartest person in the room?”

    is equivalent to answering:

    “Him is the most important person in the room”

    There is a mismatch between the subject (who) and the object case.

    “To whom did you talk last night?”
    “To him/*to he”

    Hopefully, this will clear things up.

    Reply
  338. Mike -  October 25, 2012 - 2:29 am

    As much as I support the spirit of this article, it seems to be trying to condense the use of whom to one particular scenario and avoids the larger picture of how “whom” fits (or used to fit) into our language as the objective 2nd person pronoun.

    For example: “That’s John, he is the man with whom I came to this party”. No mystery there..?

    Reply
  339. Eric Wood -  October 25, 2012 - 2:13 am

    To whom am I leaving this comment to….whom ?

    Reply
  340. Sheriy D -  October 25, 2012 - 1:20 am

    As I learned from the closing of a graduation speech delivered by Diane Sawyer, it’s really not to hard to remember. She told the graduating class: Just remember when you go out into the big, wide world…it’s not who you know, but whom you know.

    Reply
  341. Kelby -  October 25, 2012 - 1:15 am

    I’ve been trying to use “whom” correctly for years, solely based on that scene in “The Office” (American version) where it becomes the topic of discussion and nobody seems to know how to use it. Finally, Pam offers up something like, “Whom is used when the person being referred to is the subject.”

    Dictionary.com, care to expand your article?

    Reply
  342. Axel -  October 25, 2012 - 1:11 am

    I am not sure if this explanation of “whom” is correct. In my view, whom is the dative and accusative of who corresponding to “Wem” and “Wen” in German. It is a remnant of the old english declension system (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declension). best Axel

    Reply
  343. Dan -  October 25, 2012 - 1:03 am

    Yes, i think word ‘whom’ should be left. After all I use it whenever possible as it’s quite applicable in my work environment.

    Reply
  344. Rob -  October 25, 2012 - 12:46 am

    Whom will never die. Rob has spoken.

    Reply
  345. ... -  October 24, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    ????

    Reply
  346. Chris Allison -  October 24, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    I definitely think the word whom should be kept.
    What better way to identify those whom you don’t know.

    Reply
  347. newjerseygirl -  October 24, 2012 - 8:52 pm

    i think i’m the first commenter! just to let ya’ll know i love ENGLISH!!

    Reply
  348. Andrew -  October 24, 2012 - 7:37 pm

    I’m pretty sure the difference between “who” and “whom” has to do with subject versus object. The explanation of mystery doesn’t hold water. For example, if you don’t know the identity of someone standing on the other side of the room, you still say “Who is that?” rather than “Whom is that?”. Their identity is still a mystery, but you do not use “whom”.

    “Whom” must be used if the mystery person in question is the object (DO) of the verb you’re using or the object of a preposition (OP) attached to the verb.

    (e.g.,
    1. “I came with X” (OP) –> “With whom did you come?”
    2. “I am a guest of X” (OP) –> “Of whom are you a guest?” — although this one should just be “Whose guest are you?”
    3. “It concerns X” (DO) –> “Whom does it concern?”
    4. “He likes X” (DO) –> “Whom does he like?”)

    And “who” is used if the mystery person is used as the subject of the verb. “He likes dogs” –> “Who likes dogs?”, or “He is a guest.” –> “Who is a guest?”

    The difference between “who” and “whom” is clear and easy enough to understand, but I have to admit it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference in comprehension if you mistakenly use one or the other. It only makes the grammar police angry.

    Reply
  349. Joel Mitchell -  October 24, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    I think it should be kept. Just because people are getting sloppy with their grammar is no reason to do away with a word. If they want to sabotage themselves by not growing their vocabularies and using slang and computer lingo, then so be it. But the rest of us like our words, and we find beauty in them.

    Reply

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Related articles

Back to Top