Word Fact: When Do You Use Whom?

whom, chalkboard

Over the last 200 years, the pronoun whom has been on a steady decline. Despite its waning use in speech and ongoing speculation about its imminent extinction, whom still holds a spot in the English language, particularly in formal writing. Understanding when and how to use this embattled pronoun can set your writing apart.

Whom is often confused with who. What’s the difference between these two pronouns? Who is a subjective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as a subject in a sentence, and whom is an objective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as an object in a sentence. Who, like I, he, she, and they, performs actions, as in Who rescued the dog? (who is doing the rescuing in this sentence). Whom, like me, him, her, and them, is acted on, as in Whom did you see? (whom is being seen here, not doing the seeing). Whom more commonly appears when it follows a preposition, as in the salutation To Whom it may concern (Does it concern he? No. Does it concern him? Yes.) or in the title of Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.

How do you decide which one to use? When in doubt, substitute him (sometimes you’ll have to rephrase the sentence) and see if that sounds right. If him is OK, then whom is OK. If the more natural substitute is he, then go with who. For example: You talked to whom? It would be incorrect to say You talked to he? but saying You talked to him? makes grammatical sense.

That said, in informal speech and writing, speakers will often opt for who where whom has traditionally been used. This choice sounds more natural and less formal to most native English speakers.

Do you ever use whom?

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  1. Larry Scholnick -  March 11, 2015 - 10:54 am

    I find it especially annoying when people (mis)use WHOM in place of WHO because they think WHOM is fancier (and interchangeable.

    At my previous job, the Operator would announce over the public address system: Would whomever paged Mr. Jones please call the operator.

    Obviously the operator was wrong. The person who paged Mr. Jones did the action and was thus the subject of the sentence; Mr. Jones was the recipient of the action and was thus the object of the sentence.

    Would whoever used the word WHOMEVER please stop doing so.

  2. MikeWho -  January 21, 2015 - 8:29 am

    Oh, sure…let’s just do away with “whom” because people can’t be bothered to get it right. We might as well just go back to living in trees and flinging our crap at each other.

  3. Morgan -  January 18, 2015 - 9:47 am

    I used “whom” in my sixth grade summer reading essay, and my teacher marked it wrong and took away like three points for it, but I was right!

    For that summer reading assignment, I chose the seventh “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” book, and I said something like “Some owls mistook him(Nyroc) for his mother, whom he looked similar to.” Whom is referring to his mother, who is the subject of the sentence. He looked like her, not she, so “whom” is correct.

    • Morgan -  January 18, 2015 - 9:49 am

      I meant object of the sentence, not subject.

    • Linda -  January 21, 2015 - 10:37 am

      ‘Whom’ is correct, but ending a sentence with a preposition is not. The sentence should be “Some owls mistook him (Nyroc) for his mother, to whom he looked similar.”

      ‘Whom’ is the object of the preposition ‘to’.

      • Deshan -  January 22, 2015 - 1:22 pm

        100% correct. It’s a good lesson about how to re-phrase sentences, without it ending with a preposition. Excellent Linda.

    • Tinkies -  March 3, 2015 - 4:48 am

      wow Morgan – I so wish I can go back and slap your teacher…………honestlyI I always get confuse still today

  4. Tony MacDonnell -  January 13, 2015 - 4:25 pm

    So should the famous publication in the UK “Who’s Who” really be “Who’s Whom”?

    Subject, who is the famous person? He is. Object, fame has come to whom? To him.

    • Judi -  January 14, 2015 - 1:20 pm

      I don’t believe so. One would say, “Who is he?” not, “Who is him?”

    • Tomasz -  January 14, 2015 - 11:17 pm

      What do you ask: who is he? or Who is him? So it should be obvious now.

    • ken Payne -  January 15, 2015 - 6:01 am

      The rule for “is” applies here, saying somethis “is” something isn’t doing something “to” something. So, “that is HIM” is actually wrong. However “that is HE” is so rarely said, because of the popular English way of thinking. The word-order suggests that the word AFTER the verb is somehow an object. This happens also with “and” with which many people make the same error,for example saying “Jim and me went to town.”

  5. ckeller@ -  January 13, 2015 - 11:07 am

    As the new generation abuse and “butcher” new words, yes i was born in 2001, and like everyone of my friends do this, but i think who creates a new word should be the ones who destroy that word, am i making sense here???

    • ckeller@ -  January 13, 2015 - 11:09 am

      this reporter doesnt make sense

    • Cody -  January 19, 2015 - 7:07 am

      You have a lot to learn. But that’s fine at your age. Language evolves slowly and through decades and in some regards centuries. Look at old English. If we were to go back in time we’d not have a clue what (they) were saying. Similar is that if they came to our time, they’d be clueless to what we’re saying. Something a lot of people fail to keep in mind is that language is meant to communicate. As long as that is fulfilled then it is acceptable and in fact it shouldn’t be considered a problem.

  6. vipra -  January 12, 2015 - 11:12 am

    Who is talking to Whom ?
    Both the words are equally important and meaningful and serve different purpose.

  7. Butch -  January 12, 2015 - 10:47 am

    My favorite rock group is definitely The Whom and
    my favorite tv show is Dr. Whom, to which you might say Whom-ptee-do, who gives a #@%&?

    • teka -  January 15, 2015 - 2:22 pm


  8. geoffrey -  January 12, 2015 - 6:03 am

    Thanks. It’s clearer to me now :-) ¥¨œ∑´®†øπ¬å˚ß∆∂˙ƒ©Ω≈ç√`∫˜µ≤≥Œ„´‰ˇÁ¨ˆØ∏ÅÎÍÏ˝ÓÔÒÚƸ˛Ç◊ıı˜ ;-)

    • maciek -  January 12, 2015 - 10:36 am

      in sentence:” To Whom it may concern” the subject is the pronun “it” so “whom” must be in objective-case.

      • Judi -  January 14, 2015 - 1:24 pm

        More directly,” to” is a preposition. “Whom” is the object of the preposition.

      • Al -  January 15, 2015 - 10:18 pm

        Maciek — you’re absolutely right. “Whom” is correct NOT because it’s the object of the preposition “to”; it’s correct because it’s the object of “concern.”

    • Respect my crew -  January 12, 2015 - 2:59 pm

      Over the last 200 years, the pronoun whom has been on a steady decline. Despite its waning use in speech and ongoing speculation about its imminent extinction, whom still holds a spot in the English language, particularly in formal writing. Understanding when and how to use this embattled pronoun can set your writing apart.

      Whom is often confused with who. What’s the difference between these two pronouns? Who is a subjective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as a subject in a sentence, and whom is an objective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as an object in a sentence. Who, like I, he, she, and they, performs actions, as in Who rescued the dog? (who is doing the rescuing in this sentence). Whom, like me, him, her, and them, is acted on, as in Whom did you see? (whom is being seen here, not doing the seeing). Whom can also be object of a preposition, as in the salutation To Whom it may concern (whom is the object of to; Does it concern he? No. Does it concern him? Yes.) or in the title of Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.

      How do you decide which one to use? When in doubt, substitute him and see if that sounds right. If him is OK, then whom is OK. If the more natural substitute is he, then go with who. For example: You talked to whom? It would be incorrect to say You talked to he? but saying You talked to him? makes grammatical sense.

      That said, in informal speech and writing, speakers will often opt for who where whom has traditionally been used. This choice sounds more natural and less formal to most native English speakers.

      Do you ever use whom?

      • Shelly Fletcher -  January 14, 2015 - 6:34 pm

        In formal correspondence yes, informally, no, it sounds stuffy.

      • Jules -  January 18, 2015 - 10:46 pm

        I was taught that we should never end a sentence with a preposition. I don’t know why, of all the rules of English grammar, that one stuck. It is, however, an important rule, for without it, “whom” is doomed. The problem is, nobody follows the rule (most likely don’t even know it is a rule). For example, it is proper to say, “To whom are you speaking?”, not “Whom are you speaking to?” When the words are put in their proper places, “whom” comes more naturally. Problem with English is, it’s not really its own language; only about 6% of our words are anglo-rooted. English is a mish mash of many languages, including German, French, Latin, Old- and middle-English (which is derived from the Nordic tongue), and even a lot of Arabic. One could possibly trace the totality of the English roots to the time of Nimrod and the tower of Babel. The real bitch is that the languages on which English is built have different grammatical rules themselves (e.g., if one translates “I’m going to the store with John” into French, the rules of construction are the same as we use most often in English so the words come in the same order; but a direct translation involving German or Spanish yields a different sentence: “I to the store with John am going”. Now, if the languages from which our words are derived all have different rules, one can see why grammar is so confusing to student of the English language! To work in the word “whom”, here: Who’s going to the store? I am (vs. me am); and With whom are you going? I am going with him, with John. Now, in German, it’s made relatively easy because German has one set of rules that it sticks to (because it is not a mish mash of different languages with a variety of rules unto themselves). In German, all we had to remember was this: if the pronoun accompanies the words “aus”, “ausser”, “bei”, “nach”, “mit”zeit”, “von”, or “zu”, it takes the objective form, the equivalent of the English “him” v. “he”, or “her” v. “she”. I all other cases, the pronoun takes the subjunctive (“he” or “she” equivalent). No questioning which form to use. If the word is used with the above (aus, ausser, bei…), use the “him/whom” version of it. Another problem with English is that we no longer apply gender to our nouns like other languages, and the word’s gender is telling of which form to use. In German, to use a word in the objective case, if the pronoun is masculine or neutral, it will always end in an “m”, just like “him”; and if it’s feminine it will always end in “r” or “-er”, just like “her”. Examples: Haus (house) is neutral, das Haus, so to say “to (zu) the house”, “from (aus) the house”, “with (mit) the house”, they all take the “m” ending (“he’s going home” [or, going to the house] is “Er geht ZUM Hause”; “it comes with the house” is “Es kommt MIT DEM Hause”; and “the music is heard from that house” is “Die Musik ist AUS DIESEM Haus gehort” — there should be an umlaut on that “o”, but can’t do with this keyboard). If the noun is feminine, like “woman” (DIE Frau), the pronoun takes the “r” at the end: “he’s giving the woman clothes” = “He’s giving clothes TO (zu) the woman” = “He gives to the woman the clothes” = “Er gibt ZU DER Frau die Kleider”. It still gets confusing, but it is so much more cut and dried in other languages than our own. I would hate to have to learn English as a foreign language!! Virtually no rules that don’t have many confusing exceptions.

      • R Laird -  January 20, 2015 - 5:40 pm

        if I said or heard “to who are you speaking?” it would sound odd– I would at least start to smile, and maybe even go on to chuckle or laugh. It just sounds really odd.

  9. Al -  January 11, 2015 - 9:41 pm

    Don’t know whether this has already been mentioned, but this article is incorrect when it states: “Whom can also be object of a preposition, as in the salutation To Whom it may concern (whom is the object of to; Does it concern he? No. Does it concern him? Yes.)”

    Whom in this sentence is NOT the object of the preposition “to”; it is the object of the verb “concern.” The whole clause “whom it may concern” is the object of the preposition. Just because a preposition precedes who/whom, it does not make the pronoun objective. Consider these two sentences:

    (1) Give the receipt to whoever is sitting at the reception desk.
    (2) Give the receipt to whomever you find sitting at the reception desk.

    Both are preceded by a preposition, but in (1) whoever is the subject of “is sitting”; in (2) whomever is the object of “find [sitting].” In both sentences, the whole clause is the object of the preposition. Sentences like these are the ones where you most frequently hear “whom(ever)” being misused, and this article adds to the confusion.

    • John -  January 12, 2015 - 11:45 am

      Whomever should be used in both instances. “…is sitting at the reception desk.” and “…you find sitting at the reception desk.” are both descriptive, in a sense adjectives.

      For example, Give the receipt to whomever is green in color and Give the receipt to whomever you find is green in color.

    • Mario D'Cruz -  January 13, 2015 - 6:17 am

      Completely correct A1 with a clear explanation and clean examples, nice work, thanks

    • macey -  January 13, 2015 - 9:18 am

      Thx for the tips. This helps me a lot we are actually doing an assignment in English right now and what you said really help. It will absolutely be included in my assignment! Thx Al!

    • Margot -  January 13, 2015 - 6:45 pm

      An easy way to decide between whoever and whomever (without fumbling through clauses and objects of prepositions) is to divide the sentence into two complete sentences and insert pronouns. If both sentences take “him,” use “whomever.” If either one takes “he,” use “whoever.”

      Using your examples:
      1) Give the receipt to whoever is sitting at the reception desk.
      Give the receipt to HIM. HE is sitting at the reception desk.
      Him and He = whoever

      2) Give the receipt to whomever you find sitting at the reception desk.
      Give the receipt to HIM. You find HIM sitting at the reception desk.
      Him and Him = whomever

      Works every time!

      • Al -  January 15, 2015 - 10:26 pm

        Margot — You’re right. And the he/him rule does work every time. Many here have pointed it out but still use convoluted reasoning to come to the *wrong* conclusion, especially after a preposition. The fact that the article incorrectly states that “whom” is the object of the preposition “to” doesn’t help the situation.

      • Thach Pn -  January 19, 2015 - 7:57 pm

        That’s OK.

      • Becky -  January 22, 2015 - 9:35 pm

        I had a fantastic time reading this! I adored the entire conversation. Love it, love it, love it. Rock on, smart people!!!

      • Dahne -  January 30, 2015 - 8:12 am

        I love the page.- informative especially as a non- native speaker of English, which is actually my third language after a local dialect in Kenya
        and Kiswahili.

    • A2 -  January 14, 2015 - 5:11 pm

      totally right

  10. Frank -  January 11, 2015 - 4:27 pm

    For all the bickering going on here, I think that many have lost sight of the fact that there are two kinds of grammar: proscriptive, and natural Proscriptive is the one where academics argue and point fingers, and natural is the one that people actually use.
    Although neither form can be shown to be better than the other, remember this: Usage makes the language, so in the long run, Natural grammar always wins.

  11. alexis -  January 11, 2015 - 3:11 pm

    Use who with his
    Use whoM with hiM

  12. yd -  January 11, 2015 - 2:29 pm

    stop arguing cause nobody cars

  13. yd -  January 11, 2015 - 2:28 pm

    stop arguing cause no body cars

    • yd -  January 11, 2015 - 2:28 pm


      • Rob. -  January 13, 2015 - 8:53 am


        • Shelly Fletcher -  January 14, 2015 - 6:35 pm


    • evol -  January 12, 2015 - 2:17 pm

      I care.

    • rwetew -  January 12, 2015 - 6:35 pm


      • pj -  January 14, 2015 - 9:04 am


  14. Mayela -  January 11, 2015 - 10:06 am

    Thank you! This helps a lot!

  15. MY MOM -  January 11, 2015 - 6:30 am

    I am going to hack you all

    • kenzie -  January 13, 2015 - 8:57 am

      uh dare you to try because I have security on my computer so they can trace you down so Id like to see you try

    • Azariah -  January 13, 2015 - 9:39 am

      You are cra cra

  16. Frantic Gonzalez -  January 10, 2015 - 9:51 pm

    This just saved Whom’s life. Thank you!!!

    • Yhd -  January 12, 2015 - 6:00 pm

      You are right

  17. CHANDRA MOHAN, P., -  January 9, 2015 - 5:49 am

    No Doubt “WHO” is subjective-case and “WHOM” objective-case.
    Every Word in every language has its unique meaning where it stands and how it stands. Subjective case pronouns never prefixes any adjectives.
    ( Nouns may prefix-Optionally, e.g.,Happy Girl, but not happy she.)
    But, objective pronouns prefix prepositions. Sometimes the proposition hides and tends its meaning correctly.
    e.g., A guy knocked at my doors whom I never saw earlier.
    A guy knocked at my doors to whom I paid no attention.
    Lets explore more….

    • jsl -  January 10, 2015 - 12:56 pm

      the lot of you have made my disession for me not to sign upon this site. There is no possitive or supportive dialog here. I just wanted to know who was interesting and not whom was being belttled.

      • jeffrey -  January 12, 2015 - 10:59 am


    • Graham Thurston -  January 10, 2015 - 1:49 pm

      I think you mean “A guy who I had never seen before, knocked at my door.” It sounds better like that!

      Second one could do with reconstructing too . . . something like . . .
      “A guy who I had never seen before, knocked at my door earlier”. Order is also important in the sense.
      “never” and “earlier” are referring to separate parts of the sentence; or they contradict!

    • John -  January 11, 2015 - 4:01 pm

      Just a thought about your first eg sentence which you expressed as “A guy knocked at my doors whom I never saw earlier.” Would it not be better expressed to say ‘A guy whom I never saw earlier knocked at my doors.’ Or A guy, whom I never saw earlier, knocked at my doors?’
      Just a thought. No criticism. The only type of criticism I like is constructive, whether to me or from me!
      Have a great day.
      God bless you.

  18. pags -  January 8, 2015 - 7:23 am

    Who and whom were starting to make sense before hundreds of you decide to chime in trying to show how intelligent you or your grandmother is or were, only succeeding in confusing the issue. If you have nothing to add just say nothing.

    • c.j. -  January 8, 2015 - 5:37 pm


      Seems to me like they WERE adding to the conversation and it is YOU who has nothing to say.

      …and yet you ignored your own advice and ‘said something’ even though it wasn’t at all helpful in the discussion.


    • Cecil -  January 9, 2015 - 2:56 am

      Just read the article and then go away.

    • Costello -  January 9, 2015 - 6:36 am

      My grandmother always told me who’s on first, what’s on second, and I don’t know is on third.

    • Henry, from Mexico -  January 9, 2015 - 11:20 am

      You have no right to put down those who have “chimed in” trying to help, by saying that they just try to show off how intelligent they, or their grandmothers, are.
      YOU are the one trying to show off by saying that you already “knew” the difference between who and whom. Then, why were you reading?
      Were you confused after reading the discussion? To me, that sounds as if you weren´t THAT sure in the first place.

      • John -  January 11, 2015 - 4:08 pm

        Thanks, Henry, from Mexico, some people REALLY need to be put in place! I hope that pags read/reads YOUR comment.

        • A2 -  January 14, 2015 - 5:13 pm

          I agree

    • Johnny Crow -  January 9, 2015 - 5:46 pm

      Well. Aren’t you a bundle of joy. That’s what blogs are all about. ‘WHO’ do you think you are!? lol No, but really….. C’mon! Grow up or grow older or ‘just say nothing’ (lol). We are all here for different reasons and with different approaches to life and the english language. We are all reading and learning and sharing, and you are gonna sit there and tell people to just not write anything or give any feedback to the blog and global community because YOU are getting pissy because YOU are annoyed at what they are blogging!!? You said it was starting to make sense. So? Did it? Did you get the message? Or were you too wrapped up in your own lil’ world too much to venture passed your own triggers?
      Anyways, I wish you the best in the new year. Please keep an open mind, and don’t be bossy. get it? lol

    • Denny -  January 10, 2015 - 10:48 am

      Is that rod up your bum steel or PVC?

    • NA -  January 12, 2015 - 3:19 am


    • agatha poirot -  January 12, 2015 - 8:59 am

      English is my second language and this is what I learned in school: WHO is used as a subject, WHOM is used as an object of a verb or preposition, and the verb TO BE is intransitive therefore it does not take an object: “WHO shall I say is calling? is correct. I think in most instances it will be clear which one to choose except in cases like the one Chandra mentioned above.

  19. David Shaffer -  January 8, 2015 - 6:55 am

    Though “who” is often used in place of “whom” in everyday conversation, the one place where “whom” is still preferred over “who” is with prepositions; e.g., “to whom,” “for whom,” “by whom,” “in whom,” “with whom,” …

    • Bilal -  January 8, 2015 - 6:39 pm


    • Joan -  January 9, 2015 - 11:58 am

      Thanks David Shaffer your explanation was most concise yet to the point!

      • ajlewis -  January 11, 2015 - 12:49 pm


    • Al -  January 9, 2015 - 2:13 pm

      D.S. substitute him for whom, “to him”, “for him”, “by him”, “in him”, “with him”, oh yea it sounds right..

  20. Daniel Figaro -  January 8, 2015 - 3:02 am

    I think, and this is only my opinion, that “whom” is going to be around for a very long time before we see the small notion “archaic” next to it in the dictionary. People still use it, but mostly in the formal or academic context, and even in an informal circumstance, one could still encounter “whom” while talking to someone who uses proper English. For instance, in my university we are required to use proper English, hence this pronoun pops up quite a lot. Nevertheless, the decreasing use of “whom” does cause some confusion for many of my classmates as they can distinguish when to use “whom”, as they haven’t been using it or see other English native speakers use it in real life. This post, along with many comments, are extremely helpful for those who are a) novice in English speaking and b) haven’t had enough experience with English to tell the two apart, like my classmates and myself.

    • Anne -  January 8, 2015 - 11:47 am

      Speaking of using proper English… Wouldn’t it be proper to say, “like my classmates and I” rather than, “like my classmates and myself” (see above comment). You would say, “I have had experience with English,” not “Myself has had experience with English.” I’ve noticed a tendency for even well educated people to over use the reflexive pronoun “myself” and indirect pronoun “whom” these days, even when it’s grammatically incorrect, so just thought it was amusing to see “myself” misused in a comment about the correct use of “whom.” ;)

      • Shane -  January 9, 2015 - 5:34 pm

        Actually, Anne, in the sentence you are referring to, the pronoun ‘I’ would in fact, not be the correct pronoun. The sentence fragment is not ‘..myself has had experience..’, but rather ‘..those who have had experience..’.
        Therefore, the pronoun at the end would be an objective pronoun. ‘I’ is never an objective pronoun, but a subjective one. ‘Myself’ and ‘me’ are objective pronouns. ‘Myself’ is more appropriate than ‘I’ in this situation, but ‘me’ would probably be the best choice, since ‘myself’ is reserved for situations in which the action is taken by the first person. In this fragment the action is taken by “those (people)”, which is a third person pronoun.
        MY problem with that particular sentence is the fact that “This post” is the subject and “are helpful” is the verb. ;)

      • Bfms -  January 10, 2015 - 7:12 am

        Anne, you are 100 percent correct! The overuse of “myself” makes me cringe and oddly enough it is usually the more “educated” people misusing that word. I think they think it sounds smart.

        And why is it that most people cannot figure out how to properly use “me” and “I”? Uuuugggghhhh! Drives me nuts!!!!!

        • Anne -  January 19, 2015 - 9:21 am

          I’m so glad I’m not the only one that understands the proper use of these pronouns, BFMS :)

      • Lee -  January 10, 2015 - 2:00 pm

        Anne, you have asked, Wouldn’t it be proper to say, “like my classmates and I” rather than, “like my classmates and myself,” which was used in the comment to which you were responding.

        To answer your question, it would not be proper to say, “…like my classmates and I” rather than, “like my classmates and myself.”

        The correct way the writer should have written his phrase is “like my classmates and me.” Like “whom,” people are often confused by when to use “I” and when to use “me.”

        As with so many English questions, there is a simple way to know when to use “I” and when to use “me,” and it is very similar to the solution offered above to the “who” and “whom” issue.

        Split the conjunction. Would you say,

        1. “…haven’t had enough experience with English to tell the two apart, like my classmates and like I”?

        Or, would you say,

        2. “…haven’t had enough experience with English to tell the two apart, like my classmates and like me”?

        It’s easy to see that “like me” sounds correct and IS correct, which gives you the answer to your question. It is correct to say, “haven’t had enough experience with English to tell the two apart, like my classmates and me.”

        • Anne -  January 19, 2015 - 9:34 am

          Lee, if the Daniel was saying that the post was helpful to people like his classmates and himself, then yes, “me” would have been the proper pronoun. But that’s not what he was saying. Here’s the quote:

          “This post, along with many comments, are extremely helpful for those who are a) novice in English speaking and b) haven’t had enough experience with English to tell the two apart, like my classmates and myself.

          He was saying it was helpful to people who have NOT had the experience with English that his classmates and he HAVE had. He has had the experience (“him” hasn’t had the experience), therefore he is the direct object in that case. “I” is a direct object, the correct pronoun to use in that particular sentence. Because of the complexity of the sentence, I understand that it’s not obvious to many people (as evidenced by many of the follow up comments), but I still maintain it is the correct one for use in that sentence.

          • Anne -  January 19, 2015 - 9:40 am

            Lee, if Daniel was saying that the post was helpful to people like his classmates and “himself,” then yes, “me” would have been the proper pronoun. But that’s not what he was saying. Here’s the quote:

            “This post, along with many comments, are extremely helpful for those who are a) novice in English speaking and b) haven’t had enough experience with English to tell the two apart, like my classmates and myself.

            He was saying it was helpful to people who have NOT had the experience with English that his classmates and he HAVE had. He has had the experience (“him” hasn’t had the experience), therefore he is the direct object in that case. “I” is a direct object, the correct pronoun to use in that particular sentence. Because of the complexity of the sentence, I understand that it’s not obvious to many people (as evidenced by many of the follow up comments), but I still maintain it is the correct one for use in that sentence.

      • Elaine -  January 10, 2015 - 3:50 pm

        Anne, It would not be “like my classmates and I”, but “like my classmates and me.” Get it right when you’re correcting someone.

      • Ian -  January 11, 2015 - 1:07 pm

        Even more amusingly, Anne’s attempted correction was also wrong. The proper way to compose the ending of the original sentence in question would be “like my classmates and me”, not “my classmates and I”. The first-person pronoun in this case represents an object of the sentence (me), not the subject (as would be indicated by the pronoun “I”). The structure of the example Anne provided, therefore, did not match that of the sentence in question, because the first-person pronoun represented the subject rather than the object.


        This article was helpful to me. (Correct – “This article” is the subject, “me” is the object)


        This article was helpful to I. (Incorrect)

      • Al -  January 11, 2015 - 8:54 pm

        Since “like” is a preposition, it actually should be “like my classmates and me.” If you drop the “classmates,” you can see that “like me” and not “like I” should be used. — Unless a verb follows, but then it should be “as’ instead of “like.” (Like [correctly: As] my classmates and I do / have / or whatever.” You’re right, though, about the overuse and misuse of “myself.” It’s very annoying.

      • Dennydolittle -  January 11, 2015 - 9:57 pm

        Surely Daniel has it right and the the use of “I” is incorrect?

        You would certainly say “…tell the two apart, like myself.”

        or possibly

        “…tell the two apart, like me.”

        but you would never say

        “…tell the two apart, like I.”

        A distant memory from school days long past…

        If the question is “whom?” the answer is “him”
        If the question is “who?” the answer is “he”

      • Tym -  January 12, 2015 - 2:11 am

        …”like my classmates and I” is incorrect English; you would never say, “like I”. ‘Like’ must be followed by either an object, or reflexive, pronoun and not a subject pronoun.
        I think either, “like my classmates and me”, or “like my classmates and myself” are acceptable.

        • Richard -  January 12, 2015 - 12:30 pm

          Whether or not “like my classmates and I” is incorrect depends on the rest of the sentence. “They are all going to the prom, like my classmates and I.” In this case, “like” is a conjunction. The sentence I gave as an example can be expanded to “They are all going to the prom, like my classmates and I are going to the prom.” In this case, neither “me” nor “myself” would be correct.

    • Costello -  January 9, 2015 - 7:00 am

      IMHO Small notions are the best notions.
      IMHO Words used in nearly every circumstance are the best words for small notions.
      IMHO Universities that require the use of whom are universities full of small notions.
      IMHO Confused classmates should be confused until they are not
      IMHO Rules for use of who/whom should be posted with verifiable and legitimate sources cited and comments are for trolls and soapboxes

  21. Rick Phelps -  January 7, 2015 - 3:34 pm

    My grandmother (Phi Beta Kappa, University of Michigan 1922?) taught me (and the rest of the family) this über simple formula:

    The boy hit the ball.
    Who hit whom?
    Subject Verb Object

    And the expansion to prepositions, which take an object: to whom, about whom, by whom, for whom, from whom, and so on.

    • Parthasarathy -  January 8, 2015 - 4:59 am

      ‘Whom; is the objective case of ‘who’ i.e. a person, not a thing.

      Grandma is wrong.

      • hannah -  January 8, 2015 - 12:20 pm

        that was really mean to say and i dont think you should say that

      • Araboyevsky -  January 8, 2015 - 10:33 pm

        Grandma is humane by not using a living thing to be hit! So, look at grandma as being humane rather than wrong…

      • Chris -  January 8, 2015 - 11:17 pm

        Should it be ” whom hit the ball “?. haha

      • Shane -  January 9, 2015 - 5:41 pm

        Actually, Gramma’s right – and I think you’re missing the point.
        She’s not implying that the ball is a person. Don’t be stupid.
        She’s simply establishing the proper syntax of a sentence, i.e. subject-verb-object. (Which is actually pointed out right in the original comment).

      • John -  January 11, 2015 - 5:31 pm

        Thanks, Henry, from Mexico, some people REALLY need to be put in place! I hope that Parthasarathy read/reads YOUR comment. S/he needs to realize that those are two separate and unrelated sentences, each showing when to use who and when to use whom.

    • Kitty -  January 8, 2015 - 3:57 pm

      Love the formula!

      Thanks for the tip.

    • Costello -  January 9, 2015 - 6:45 am

      You make the mistake of who-ing when you should be what-ing. Unless the ball is really a cruel nickname. I’d correct the formula to Who hit What but I’d never hit What myself and I’m not sure Who would either.

      • Costello -  January 9, 2015 - 6:47 am

        Also there’s the problem of the question mark. We know Who hit the ball so why are we asking it again? You’re grandma got it wrong my friend.

        • Angelo -  January 9, 2015 - 4:43 pm

          Dear Costello,
          Two thing comes to mind after reading your comment above,
          one you got too much time on your hands or you don’t like grandmas

        • Shane -  January 9, 2015 - 5:43 pm

          Actually, Gramma’s right – and I think you’re missing the point.
          She’s not implying that the ball is a person. Don’t be stupid.
          She’s simply establishing the proper syntax of a sentence, i.e. subject-verb-object. (Which is actually pointed out right in the original comment).

        • Jane -  January 10, 2015 - 5:50 am

          * your grandma, Costello

        • Tommy -  January 11, 2015 - 5:37 pm

          No, she didn’t. You are the one who is over-interpreting by combining two separate thoughts into one. “Ball” and “whom” have nothing whatsoever in common with each other and she (the grandmother) obviously knew that.

        • Chelsea -  January 12, 2015 - 3:12 am


        • peter -  January 12, 2015 - 6:44 am

          that’s your

      • John -  January 11, 2015 - 5:42 pm

        Those two sentences are not related. Whom is not being used in place of ball. It stands for a person. If someone knew that your brother was hit, s/he would ask “Who hit your brother?” If that person had no idea who did the act of hitting or who received that action, s/he would ask “Who hit whom?”

  22. charles -  January 7, 2015 - 2:03 pm

    well i dont care

    • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 1:31 am

      A relatively common stance. Also not a constructive one. In any case, I’m not sure why it was necessary that you didn’t care. In fact, so doing implies at least a small amount of caring. But I digress. I hope you may change your mind. Formal writing is a useful skill.

      • Costello -  January 9, 2015 - 6:55 am

        I can be constructive by not being destructive and that means by not getting in the way, or getting in the way and telling you how to do it better, or letting you figure it out on your own. Or I could preach to you or troll at you and wait for you to reply haphazardly while thumbing your nose; although you’re probably too high class for that so you might just take your glasses off instead and follow up with an eyeroll.

    • Adrian -  January 8, 2015 - 7:02 am

      And we don’t care whether you care.

    • Tiki 5 -  January 8, 2015 - 7:32 am


      • Costello -  January 9, 2015 - 6:54 am

        Agreement is a relatively common stance. Lots of people around the world do it almost (almost almost) every day. Agreement is also not always constructive; although constructive is pretty vague friendo.

    • Jani -  January 8, 2015 - 9:21 am

      Then why did you not only take the time to read the article, but reply?

    • Mackie Braden -  January 8, 2015 - 12:16 pm

      Charles…It’s too bad that you don’t care. I wonder how many other important parts of life about which you do not care.

    • macey -  January 13, 2015 - 9:12 am

      That was very rude. John has a point. If you don’t care then get off of this website and don’t comment!!! I hope u change.


  23. Grannaidh Seanamhair -  January 7, 2015 - 2:15 am

    The who/whom conundrum was finally solved for me very clearly in this article. I need to explain this to my daughter, and I plan to use the examples used here because I can’t think of a better way to help her understand.

    • LBea -  January 8, 2015 - 6:13 am


    • Costello -  January 9, 2015 - 7:01 am

      Keepin’ it real *thumbs up*

  24. olivia -  January 6, 2015 - 6:00 pm

    use it in sentences like,”to whom shall i write this letter to?”

    • suzin -  January 6, 2015 - 6:04 pm

      its true pplz.:)

      • Sassy -  January 8, 2015 - 7:46 am


    • Adora -  January 7, 2015 - 10:14 pm

      “To whom shall I write this letter?”
      There’s no need for the second ‘to’.

    • Kelly Dobert -  January 7, 2015 - 10:14 pm

      Actually, I think that would be more likely “To whom shall I write this letter?” The second to is superfluous (it is already stated up front).

    • Peter -  January 8, 2015 - 12:53 am

      Or, use it in sentences like “To whom shall I write this letter?”

      By the way,
      why is “I” capitalised in English?
      To my ( admittedly limited ) knowledge, “je” is not capitalised in French, nor “ich” in German?

      Does anyone know?


      • Fallah -  January 8, 2015 - 6:48 pm

        “I” is always capitalized because it was conventionally agreed to be so. I asked this same question when I was in the 1st grade and my grammar teacher gave me this answer. Most grammatical rules are conventional. For example, the MLA & APA styles we use in writing a research paper were agreed at a convention held @ some place sometimes.

    • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 1:33 am

      There needs only be one “to.” The second one is called a redundancy. The correct usage of this form is “To whom shall I write this letter?”, so you know.

    • Marek -  January 8, 2015 - 2:02 am

      You want to use just one ‘to’, either at the beginning of the sentence or at the end.
      “Whom shall I write to?” or “To whom shall I write?”

    • Moore -  January 8, 2015 - 6:20 am

      Except there you have a tautology: the last ‘to’ is redundant because of the first ‘to’: “To whom should I write this letter?”

    • Evie -  January 8, 2015 - 6:21 am

      “To whom shall I write this letter?” is correct. Since To has already been used at the beginning of the sentence, it is not needed again at the end.

    • Myrna Copeland -  January 8, 2015 - 6:44 am

      To whom shall I write this letter?

    • inci -  January 8, 2015 - 7:06 am

      I think it is either “To whom shall I write this letter?” or
      “Whom shall I write this letter to?”

      • PaulM -  January 8, 2015 - 2:20 pm

        It is still not proper to say “Whom shall I write this letter to?” as that is ending a sentence with a preposition.
        The only proper question that is asked is “To whom shall I write this letter?”


        • Bryan -  January 12, 2015 - 4:41 pm

          What are you talking about? That’s one other example of ‘ending a question with a preposition,’ and it’s one that can’t be iterated in any other concise and pleasant way. However, that’s ignoring 2 important details:
          1. There are both prepositions and postpositions. Prepositions are words that show relation of a substantive to others in a sentence closely preceding the object. Postpositions are the same thing, except they closely follow the object. (This is an important detail, my current, only slightly relevant example notwithstanding.)
          2. Prepositions can be stranded or omitted in proper English. Stranding or omission is the only accepted form in many cases and the better in many others.
          The transitory taboo (which hasn’t entirely passed yet) around splitting prepositional phrases and infinitives is relative to Latin. However, as English is a Germanic language, as opposed to a Romance language, it isn’t always compatible with Latin rules. It’s pretty cool that they match up as much as they do.

      • Louisa -  January 8, 2015 - 7:46 pm

        “Whom shall I write this letter to” is ending a sentence with a preposition, isn’t it?

    • Hercules -  January 8, 2015 - 8:32 am

      My dearest Olivia, “to whom shall I write this letter?” is equivalent to “who shall I write this letter to?”. I hope this helps

    • Mackie -  January 8, 2015 - 12:22 pm

      you may omit the ‘to’. Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. I believe that was Winston Churchill’s….

    • Chris -  January 8, 2015 - 7:26 pm

      Yes, but you would want to remove that extraneous “to” from the end of the sentence.

      • Chris -  January 8, 2015 - 7:28 pm

        As I now see, several other people already said the same thing. Must remember to read the whole thread before posting.

    • Mark -  January 8, 2015 - 8:14 pm

      Sorry Olivia, but no. The correct sentence should be “To whom shall I write this letter?” The “to” on the end is superfluous.

    • owltech -  January 9, 2015 - 2:11 pm

      take out the second “to”in your example sentence for complete correctnes: “To whom shall I write this letter?”

    • Shane -  January 9, 2015 - 5:46 pm

      but, when you do, only say ‘to’ once… otherwise it’s kinda redundant… and silly

      • Mansterderio -  January 14, 2015 - 6:41 pm

        OMG! To paraphrase a famous Englishman, “This, my good man,” said Winston Churchill, ” . . . is the kind of bullshit up with which I shall not put.” — in reply to the woman by whom he was criticized for ending a sentence with a preposition.

        Additionally, Cool Hand Luke was famous for summarizing the real issue he faced while doing time in prison, “What we got here, is a fail-ure to communicate!” — making fun of the gang boss to whom he was subservient.

        We sesquipedalian folk enjoy this type of banter a great deal. It’s a matter of Ebonics and whether one cares about proper English or merely the natural USE of English as it continues to evolve. To wit, an Ebonics joke:

        – The zebra died and went to heaven. Before he enters the pearly gates, St. Peter asks if he has a question. Indeed, the zebra wants to know if he’s a white horse with black stripes or a black horse with white stripes?

        “Oh my,” says St. Peter, “that’s a question for God, not me!”

        So a week passes, and St. Peter bumps into the zebra at the local watering hole and he inquires as to whether the zebra got his answer from God. Once again, indeed he did, but the zebra remained confused.

        “And why is that?” inquired St. Peter.

        “Well, all God told me was, “You are what you are!”

        “Ha! There you have it, then!”

        “What do you mean, St Peter?”

        “Well you’re definitely a white horse with black stripes!”

        “How is that? inquisited the zebra . . .

        “Because if you were a black horse with white stripes, He would have said, ‘You is what you is!!”

  25. kate langshack -  January 6, 2015 - 8:13 am

    sounds formal

    • jo jo -  January 7, 2015 - 8:44 am

      ya what they said

    • a person -  January 7, 2015 - 4:38 pm

      Whom might say it sounds formal lol im sorry

      • annie -  January 8, 2015 - 8:34 am

        Dear “a person”,
        The point is that you would not say ‘Him might think it was formal” …you’d say “He might think…”. So it should be, “WHO might think….” , since “who” is the subject, doing the saying. (Just saying…lol)

      • Shane -  January 9, 2015 - 5:50 pm

        you mean who…

    • frank -  January 7, 2015 - 4:45 pm

      We are losing the last remnants of our once inflected saxon language. The “m” at the end of whom is called the saxon dative. In modern German this use is still very much alive and powerful. In english most of our case endings have been lost for more than half a millennia but this stubborn m is a result of the pronoun’s position used as an indirect object. Because it is one of only a handful of inflected examples remaining, the use of whom sounds stilted, formal and has to be reinforced with a preposition to make the meaning clear. In german for example, no preposition is necessary because the “m” does the heavy lifting and it is clear to the listener that action is “to” this person or thing. Example in german; wem gehoert. rendered in english “to” whom does this belong. Sadly the to in english is
      utterly redundant.

      • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 2:00 am

        In the case of “To whom it may concern,” the preposition isn’t a reinforcement. If it were addressed to a particular person instead of ‘whom,’ then it would be, for example, “To Bryan.” Alternatively “For Whom the Well Tolls” would be “For Bryan.” “Whom the Bell Tolls” would be about a person being tolled by a bell. “Whom it may concern” is one indefinite noun. The preposition is to establish direction. Who/whom just establishes role in the sentence. German sentence is slightly different in general from English. “Whom does this belong?” just doesn’t make sense. That would, for starters, imply that ‘belong’ is a transitive verb, as the standard configuration of the sentence would be “This belongs whom?” With a transitive verb, a sentence that makes sense can be formed. “John met whom?” The answers to those questions would be “This belongs Bryan,” and “John met Bryan.” You can see how a preposition would be necessary for an intransitive verb. The real problem is that people aren’t aware of “whom” except in the example that is seen in prepositional phrases. I imagine this results from lack of awareness of which noun is the subject in the interrogative configuration and assumption that the first noun is still the subject, even though the direct object usually comes first in the standard question, as the indefinite noun or adverb tends to lead. I hope this helps to clear up the misconceptions you conveyed. While your stance was close to the truth and definitely interesting to read, I felt I should share my perception as well.

        • Tiffany the Cow -  January 11, 2015 - 8:17 pm

          To frank and Bryan,
          Whoa! That was rather lengthy, but quite effective! Thanks for the clearing up!

          Tiffany the Cow

      • Barbara -  January 8, 2015 - 9:05 am

        Thanks, Frank! German is my first language, and your explanation is the most lucid (for me) – I finally understand! :-)

      • David -  January 12, 2015 - 9:34 am

        Your explanation is very good – I speak German, too, and wem (=whom) is still very much a part of our parent language.

        Your comment brings up a grammatical error that has become very much accepted in everyday English usage – but grates on my ears (probably largely on account of speaking German). I call the error “indirect passive”. In English grammar (and German, too), one creates the passive voice by using the effective direct object as the subject and making changes to the verb structure and agent. But one hears increasingly the indirect object used as a subject – which is totally incorrect and sounds (if you think about it) very ridiculous. Example: “Much has been given me” (correct) versus “I have been given much” (“indirect passive”). I have been given…? My head on a silver platter? I can just see myself being handed over to the recipient. If you have to use the gawky passive construction, use “receive” or “get” as your verb! I attribute the rise of this horrendous practice to two factors – 1 English speakers (especially we Americans), who are ignorant of our own language, and use atrocious grammar – probably 90% of us couldn’t distinguish a direct object from an indirect object. – In German, that distinction is still maintained in the declension of nouns and pronouns and even adjectives. You wouldn’t get by without being able to make that distinction. 2 Most of us model our speaking habits after what we hear on television and in movies. I would argue that – ironically – people whose profession is the use of words (journalists, advertisers, actors and actresses) are often the most ignorant ones of the bunch. I hear so many bad examples of English grammar and word usage that it is painful to my ears.

        • ken Payne -  January 15, 2015 - 6:24 am

          really true about journalists; I despair of my own favourite Daily using “who” in Headlines wrongly! (and as for spellchecker-mediated errors, dropping homophones in without warning, here and their!!!!!!)

    • Kathryn Chapman (use Kathryn) -  January 7, 2015 - 6:25 pm

      One must also consider situations when whoever and whomever are used in phrases within sentences.

      “The prize will go to whoever wins the race.” He wins the race, not him wins the race.

      “The prize will go to whomever the judge chooses.” The judges choose her, not the judge chooses she.

      • Evie -  January 8, 2015 - 6:25 am

        Thank you, Kathryn, for this explanation. It makes great sense.

      • Graham -  January 11, 2015 - 4:47 pm

        not quite right I think?
        “The prize will go to whomever wins the race; whoever wins the race will get the prize”

    • Hamady -  January 8, 2015 - 6:40 pm

      Sort of.

  26. Gina Coles -  January 5, 2015 - 2:35 am

    I tried putting both ‘he’ and ‘him’ in ‘To whom it may concern’ and neither sounds correct!

    • RAIMUNDO -  January 5, 2015 - 4:45 pm

      After a preposition we can only use me, you,him, her, it, us, them. And after a preposition only whom can be used. It is a rule in grammar.

      • Eddie -  January 7, 2015 - 6:24 pm


        • Hamady -  January 8, 2015 - 6:40 pm


          • Frank -  January 12, 2015 - 8:05 am


    • Tyler -  January 5, 2015 - 6:07 pm

      English is weird
      The “him/whom” thing was just a rule of thumb.
      Sometimes it won’t sound quite right, but who is always a subject and whom is always an object in a sentence (direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, etc.

    • Gina gina... -  January 5, 2015 - 6:13 pm

      “It may concern him” – sounds absolutely correct.

    • Vijayan -  January 5, 2015 - 6:27 pm

      Try to put it this way: “It may concern to him” and see the difference!

    • Izzy -  January 5, 2015 - 6:41 pm

      The simplest way to explain would be to say sometimes you have to take the “he/him” part out of context. Sure, when you directly replace whom with “he” or “him” it sounds silly. Neither “To he it may concern,” nor “To him it make concern,” sound correct. Instead, try to rephrase the statement a little, or the a question of who is receiving the object and who is the subject. Examples of both, perspectively, are “It is concerning ‘him’,” or “‘Who is it concerning?’ ‘him’.”

    • M -  January 5, 2015 - 6:44 pm

      It may concern ‘him’.

    • Jean -  January 5, 2015 - 6:52 pm

      to ‘him who’ it may concern

    • Alyce -  January 5, 2015 - 7:15 pm

      Does it concern him? Sounds correct, so use whom

      Does it concern he? Sounds bad…don’t use

    • Detective Inspector Me -  January 5, 2015 - 8:58 pm

      It could make sense if you put a comma after ‘him’, though it would be more of a preposition than a passive statement.

    • Rosie -  January 5, 2015 - 9:29 pm

      Try to think to say : “To HIM it may concern” it will make grammatical sense and correctly than say:” To HE it may concern”.

    • Helen -  January 6, 2015 - 4:05 am

      I think that’s because in ‘To whom it may concern’ the ‘whom’ is actually short for ‘whomsoever’.

    • Mike -  January 6, 2015 - 4:15 am

      The article means that you should reword the sentence before including him or he to test whether it should be who or whom. In this instance, I suppose the ‘test’ sentence would be, “It may concern him/he”, and in this case ‘him’ is clearly the correct form.

    • Masie -  January 6, 2015 - 6:56 am

      You don’t just replace the word. You also have to alter the words into a sensible order.

      So in this case the options are:

      “It concerns he.”


      “It concerns him.”

      Which one sounds correct?

    • Milo -  January 6, 2015 - 9:26 am

      thats odd!!!!

      • Hamady -  January 8, 2015 - 6:41 pm

        I know right! It really does if you’re not reading the article!

    • Margy -  January 6, 2015 - 10:10 am

      It may concern him to be seen here.

    • Paula Corbett -  January 6, 2015 - 12:10 pm

      Because “to” is a preposition, whom would be correct because it is the object of the preposition, hence objective case.

    • Jeff -  January 6, 2015 - 12:23 pm

      Try thinking of it this way: Does it concern he or him? Him. So whom should be used.

    • MikeL -  January 6, 2015 - 1:58 pm

      Leave off “it may concern” and try it. “To he” is never correct. “To him” is correct. Therefore, “To whom” is better than “To who”. Now, you can put “it may concern” back on the end of the phrase!

    • Simon -  January 6, 2015 - 2:22 pm

      You don’t switch the word out, you answer the question that the word “who” or “whom” is being used to ask. For whom does the bell toll? Does it toll for “he” or “him?” Whom did you see? Did you see “he” or “him?” Who did this?! Did “him” do it, or did “he?”
      Hope this helps!

    • Tiberian Fiend -  January 6, 2015 - 3:00 pm

      It does if you realize that phrase is just a sentence fragment. The whole sentence is, “This letter is addressed to whom it may concern,” in which case, “This letter is addressed to him,” makes perfect sense.

    • evan -  January 6, 2015 - 3:05 pm

      You’er probably not use to using words like that. Or, you know no advanced English.

    • unknown -  January 6, 2015 - 3:52 pm

      You have to put it in a sentence like this: Does it concern him? or Does it conern he?

    • Ethan Zhang -  January 6, 2015 - 6:18 pm

      You don’t have to use the original sentence. You can mix up words.
      For example: To ____ it may concern.
      Just mix up or remove words.
      For example: It may concern (he/him)
      You would use him, so use whom, because of the rule.
      So, it would be To whom it concerns.

    • Alec Lawson -  January 6, 2015 - 8:35 pm

      You have to rephrase it, like this: ” It may concern him”

    • K.K. Goel -  January 7, 2015 - 7:09 am

      Please see this way and decide which one would you take as correct.-

      (For he) to whom it may concern

      (For him) to whom it may concern

    • gbake -  January 7, 2015 - 2:52 pm

      Dear Gina;
      For me, the easiest way to remember it is:
      Who does What to Whom.
      (Who, in this case, can be any noun – person, place or thing). So just find those elements in the sentence and you’re done. It does sometimes sound odd or even pretentious, but you’ll be correct. So in your example the Who is “it” – the What is “concern” – and the Whom is/are the people reading your letter.

    • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 2:22 am

      In ‘To whom it may concern,’ the part that would be replaced by ‘him’ is ‘whom it may concern.’ This is because it is one nominal phrase. More examples would be ‘((What I do for a living)) is (the best career) [in the world;] ((Where I left my car)) is (my concern, not yours.) Each enclosed group of words is a nominal phrase, but each is slightly different. The double-parenthetical phrases are relative clauses. The single-parenthetical phrases are determiners. Lastly, the bracketed phrase is a prepositional phrase. There are a few other classes of nominal phrases, but these are the most common. It makes sense that substituting a definite pronoun into a relative clause wouldn’t make sense, as relative clauses are indefinite by nature. So the replacement would be to go from ‘To whom it may concern’ to ‘To Bryan.’ See?

    • Shane -  January 9, 2015 - 6:00 pm

      Are you writing the letter to him, Gina? Or are you writing the letter to he?
      To him / To he… ignore the ‘it may concern’… unless you want to ask if it concerns him, or if it concerns he….

    • Daniel -  January 11, 2015 - 5:34 pm

      This is tricky because there are actually two phrases to complete:
      “To him” and “it may concern him.’ Both use the objective case, so no problem here that it should be “To whom it may concern.”

      But what about: “To ___ is concerned?” Here, we have “To him” and “he is concerned.” Does the “him” or the “he” prevail? The rule is that every very needs a subject, so the “he” always prevails–> “To who(ever) is concerned.” So you would never say, even in formal English, “I want to tell WHOMEVER is concerned that everything is ok,” you would always use WHOEVER in this circumstance. (Even less would you say “I want to tell everyone WHOM is concerned that…,” Even though you would say “I want to tell him,” we do not use whom, because “is” needs a subject.)

    • Dennydolittle -  January 11, 2015 - 10:08 pm

      Look at it this way Gina, You are correct in thinking that the response can be seen in the question, so…

      To Whom it may concern

      It may concern he


      It may concern him

  27. gingerlyiced -  January 4, 2015 - 8:20 pm

    communication is an interesting complex in its simplest form

  28. Kris -  January 3, 2015 - 7:03 am

    Who needs a whom when a who will do? Who, what, when, where why. Why is “who” the only one of these words that requires an objective form? I don’t think the word is necessary to clarify meaning.

    • Goose -  January 5, 2015 - 7:54 am

      Who needs a whom when who whoms whose?

      • Tyler -  January 5, 2015 - 6:09 pm

        What is the only one in that list besides who that is a noun. Only nouns and adjectives can be subjective or objective

    • Ally -  January 5, 2015 - 2:14 pm

      Whom is a mother word for you so whom shall go to sleep
      Also it u can be used as me gtg

    • Dasya -  January 6, 2015 - 3:17 pm

      When did whom come in my dictionay never I am not saying don’t use the word whom but it is not in my dictionary.

    • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 2:33 am

      “What” is the only other pronoun of all of these, and it wouldn’t make sense for it to come with a Saxon-genitive. The rest are adverbs, and adverbs only have one case.

  29. Harvey Wachtel -  January 2, 2015 - 7:13 am

    Hemingway took the title of his book from John Donne’s “Meditation XVII”, from the well-known section that begins “no man is an island” (see http://www.poemhunter.com/best-poems/john-donne/no-man-is-an-island/). It’s a little dangerous to cite a 17th Century text as a guide to modern usage (e.g., regarding whether to use “do” in the negative imperative of “to be”, Donne wrote “Death be not Proud” but Presley sang “Don’t be Cruel”). However, Donne’s thee’s and thou’s notwithstanding, “for whom” is still unimpeachable formal usage.

  30. karl greene -  January 1, 2015 - 10:47 pm

    I’m sad to see the disappearance of the subjunctive mode (mood?)
    in spoken English. I assume it has mostly disappeared in written
    English, too.

    Right: I wish I were right.

    Wrong: I wish I was right.

    I don’t know why this is important to me but, it is.

    I went to school eons ago when we diagrammed sentences. (Although I can’t remember how to do that now.)

    • Cathleen -  January 5, 2015 - 1:23 pm

      You are so right

    • Jantaman -  January 5, 2015 - 6:31 pm

      I believe it should be…
      I wish you were right. and
      I wish I was right.
      Hope I didn’t misunderstand you.

      • Rick Phelps -  January 7, 2015 - 4:00 pm

        Jantaman, it works like this (from Wikipedia):

        The subjunctive is a grammatical mood…. Subjunctive forms of verbs are typically used to express various states of unreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred….

        The key thought is “unreality,” things that are not so:
        I wish I were dead (but [the reality is] I’m not).
        I wish I were tall (but I’m short).
        I wish I were thin (but I’m fat).

        Here it is with “opinion,” something I hold but which may not be true:
        If this be true (and I am of the opinion it is)
        If this be so (and I am of the opinion is is)

        Hope this helps.

    • Richard -  January 6, 2015 - 3:20 pm

      I really agree the students today do not listen to the teacher

      • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 2:46 am

        The problem runs deeper than you may know. I am a recent high school graduate, and to my dismay, not only are high school teachers seemingly unaware of the basic rules of subjunctive case (as well as many other major points of grammatical convention), but my English professor last semester was, too. All of my English teachers have used more casual, layman English than I do.

    • Jeane -  January 7, 2015 - 2:51 pm

      I still love to diagram sentences!! I know it is weird!! We had an old spinster teacher in 8th grade English that thought everyone should know how to diagram after they completed her class. It sure did help me when I studied English in college. You could not diagram sentences if you did not know the parts of a sentence.

    • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 2:42 am

      To answer your parenthetical question, it’s subjunctive case. And the reason, I suppose is that people in general lack the abstract thinking to easily keep up with grammar lessons and in this time of careless, convenient deregulation, would rather not bother with it.

  31. Richard -  January 1, 2015 - 10:37 am

    Much of the above questions,and the problems with those questions, arise from the limited definition beginning the article: “Who is a subjective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as a subject in a sentence, and whom is an objective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as an object in a sentence.”
    Half-true. “Who”, as with any ‘subjective-case’ pronoun, can function not only as the subject but as the predicate nominative in not only a sentence but any dependent or independent clause.”Whom” is simpler: it cannot have a verb.
    For example: “You gave it to whom?” (object of preposition “to”). But, “You gave it to who came in first.” (“who” is the subject of the dependent clause “who came in first”).
    In Nora’s sentence above – “‘ “The students would have learnt to be clear about whom they are”? – - ‘whom’ should be ‘who’, since it is the predicate nominative of the clause “who they are”.
    Whether periods and question marks go inside parentheses, and the use of double quote marks (‘”) I leave for another grammar discussion.

    • MikeL -  January 6, 2015 - 2:06 pm

      This, also, is all correct. I had struggled with this question: whether to use who or whom when the subject of the preposition is a phrase rather than one word. This explains why in this particular case it should be “who” when “whom” seems correct but isn’t.

    • Bryan -  January 8, 2015 - 3:08 am

      True. The requisite for truly understanding “who/whom” would be to understand subject, object, and nominal phrases, especially relative clauses (or those “god-forsaken” prepositional phrases containing relative clauses), which seem to cause the most confusion. Most just stick to simple patterns and, when in doubt, go for “who” or alternatively just arbitrarily pick one. Still, answering the question posed by the question of who or whom will hold the answer as to which is proper to use, relating an answer of ‘him’ to a question of ‘whom.’

  32. acer1945 -  December 30, 2014 - 10:32 am

    I use whom but not very often, we have bible quizzing and the questions can be ‘who’ or ‘whom’ and asit is very confusing they do not have to specify it as ‘whom’

  33. nirmala -  September 30, 2014 - 5:55 pm

    Can we use- who is she

    • David Valle -  October 5, 2014 - 12:19 am

      This is actually very simple: use “whom” after a preposition.

      • Nora -  November 14, 2014 - 5:23 am

        What do you think about a sentence like “The students would have learnt to be clear about whom they are”?

        • @tattwagya -  December 28, 2014 - 11:24 pm

          In the sentence “The students would have learnt to be clear about whom they are”, you have to focus on the sub-structure of “whom they are”. The “being” of students is in question here, which implies they are the subject and not object. Hence, “who” would be appropriate.

        • Bill -  January 1, 2015 - 11:27 am

          In this case, “whom they are” is a dependent clause, and the ENTIRE clause is the object of the preposition “about.” Because it’s a clause, it requires a subject (a word in the nominative case); in this instance, the nominative case is “who.” Therefore, “who” would be the subject of the dependent clause, and the entire sentence should be: What do you think about a sentence like “The students would have learn to be clear about who they are”?

        • Marti -  January 1, 2015 - 11:49 am

          Messy and sounds weird

          • Eliana -  January 4, 2015 - 12:51 pm

            The word Whom is not messy and does not sound weird. it is a proper pronunciation of the question who and a wondering thought as in “Whom are they?”

          • MikeL -  January 6, 2015 - 2:11 pm

            Problem with Eliana’s example is that there is not an “action verb” in the sentence. “Are” is a form of “to be” and therefore cannot have an object. It can only have a subject (which is “they”, by the way) and a predicate nominative (which is “who”, properly).

      • jc -  December 28, 2014 - 8:49 pm

        Not always: you can construct sentences like “Whom did you attack?” but these days most people would ask “Who did you attack?” The “whom” refers to an action-taker and not an action-maker.

      • Mike -  January 2, 2015 - 9:02 am

        David. Very simple to you? Yes. Very simple to those who got an A in English? Maybe. But not to the rest of us.Your answer of course is pure simple logic. To a fault. it would be like a rocket scientist telling you: ” David its very simple, just calculate thrust.”) I already don’t know when to use who or whom, and now you want me to figure out when, where and what for that matter the hell a preposition is.
        I’ll stick to the him / he thing.

    • jc -  December 28, 2014 - 8:47 pm

      Yes! “Who is she” and “I know who you are”, not “I know whom you are”. The verb “to be” in this case has a quality of an equation rather than an action.

    • Caryn Michael -  December 29, 2014 - 10:34 am

      I use whom every day of my life practically always in writing and not as aware when speaking. I am a writer. I do tend to write in a formal manner naturally. I dislike conjunctions. The internet terms ( I don’t know the real name for these appalling popular “words”) OMG and the like.

      I understand that it is time and space saving. I would never consider having a meeting or desire to chat with anyone who would write in this fashion.

      I am not young but when I was I was still eloquent and articulate. Thank you God for this. I love this website and thank you for explaining this. I do it naturally. To whom are you speaking. Sounds right. That is how I know. I may not always be correct but now I will keep him in mind :)

      @mydogsas #allcreaturerightsadvocate #entertainment4awareness. Oh and Edutainment.. just took one of your quizzes. Thank you for telling me what business I am in! @Twitter +

      • MikeL -  January 6, 2015 - 2:19 pm

        “It is I to whom you are speaking.” Same deal here of a predicate nominative, I, and a subject, it. Most people would say “It is me…”

        “Is it me you want?” should be “Is it I you want?”

        As for texting shorthand, those are acronyms. Many people hated acronyms before the internet and texting came along. But they can be so darn handy. I use the word “texting” but it still seems wrong to make such a noun into a verb!

        • Rwandan -  January 7, 2015 - 5:36 pm

          Actually, “me” is correct in your first example. If you rearrange the syntax, you get (in your version), “You are speaking to I,” which doesn’t make sense. Since you used “whom,” that means the person being spoken to is the object, and since I is the subject and not the object, “me” must be used.

    • moh -  December 30, 2014 - 10:23 pm

      how we can use who is he

    • Rosie -  January 5, 2015 - 9:31 pm

      Who is SHE? is a correct way to say

  34. Anand -  September 5, 2014 - 1:02 pm

    Is this statement grammatically correct?
    ” That girl is murder “.
    It is part of the lyrics of a song , and I believe it is incorrect !

    • mar -  November 6, 2014 - 6:01 am

      I thought you were still there. I go to church everyday. Are they right

    • @tattwagya -  December 28, 2014 - 11:26 pm

      Poetry has as much to do with grammar as rain with sunshine

    • john9 -  January 1, 2015 - 8:55 am

      Really? School is out ! Get a lice and go and shag the sheep . Happy NeNewest Aberdeen lol

      • Monica -  January 8, 2015 - 11:28 am


    • Bystander -  January 1, 2015 - 11:57 am

      In a sense. Like “that essay was murder” using murder as “was difficult, a pain”. Probably informal way to say it but. In that sense “That girl is murder” works if it’s “that girl is a pain”. Which some songs do seem to relate to girls being troublesome.

    • Katarina -  January 3, 2015 - 1:33 am

      In my opinion it is incorrect. It can either be that girl is a murderer or that girl is murdered. I am not English native speaker so it’s just my opinion, that girl is a murder doesn’t sound grammatically correct at all. :)

      • Jeff -  January 6, 2015 - 1:31 pm

        Katrina, it is right. You may be confused because you are thinking literally, but this sentence is using a metaphor. The girl is not being murdered or committing a murder. Murder is being used as a symbol to describe the girl. She is trouble, or she causes pain. Or maybe if she was especially evil, the singer could even be saying that she is the physical manifestation of murder.

      • Alec Lawson -  January 6, 2015 - 8:51 pm

        “That girl is murder”, not “a murder”. A subtle & strange but common English practice used to be more descriptive, especially where artistic license is involved.

        • hgjgl -  January 12, 2015 - 9:11 am

          tgyu (;

  35. 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 :)

    • 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

      • Terri Hobart -  January 2, 2015 - 5:02 pm

        I completely agree with you. This person calling the nice lady “this” was RUDE, and unnecessary. If you may, please read my remark aswell. Thank you.

      • Khadeejah -  January 3, 2015 - 3:25 pm

        And a very good point it is!

      • Jeff -  January 6, 2015 - 2:15 pm

        I am American, and that usage would be rude here too. The only exception I can think of is if they refer to you as ‘this sweetheart’ or something similar, but just a simple ‘this’ is very rude.

        • Jeff -  January 6, 2015 - 2:19 pm

          I thought of something else. It is also normal to introduce someone by saying something like, “This is my friend.”

          • Louisa -  January 8, 2015 - 8:02 pm

            “This is my friend” is correct. “This” will take care of me when I am older is rude. “Louisa” will take care of me when I am older is better.

    • 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.

    • jc -  December 28, 2014 - 8:44 pm

      You would use “he” or “she”. Unfortunately, English has no easy gender-neutral pronoun like “on” in French or “man” in German. Another way to say: “this person” but not “this” (Strange that a language without gender distinction would not have such a pronoun. Yet, languages with gender distinction have them!)

      • lee Morgan -  January 1, 2015 - 4:32 pm

        english does have one–as in one cannot enter before 7 pm. it functions exactly as ‘man’ in german. the problem is, hardly anybody uses it. (with thanks to my latin teacher!!)

    • Elizabeth -  January 1, 2015 - 5:35 pm

      You need to research the word, joke. I would also recomend insecurity and self worth. This is my mother…is she? She may carry the title but her person is evident (only) in her actions to the noun. If he or her feels insulted. You may need to look as to why?

    • Matt Knighton -  January 1, 2015 - 10:01 pm

      Using “this” in reference to an individual is uncommon and, more importantly, quite improper. When it is used that way, it is typically used with a degrading intent because it depersonalizes the individual and reduces them to a mere object — a thing. On some rare occasions it has been used in a joking manner, but only when everyone present clearly understands the speaker’s light-hearted intent.

    • Terri Hobart -  January 2, 2015 - 4:49 pm

      No mam, that is not proper or even correctly structured in the sentence. I believe that a individuals grammar is very important. This one who had referred to you as “this” is either poorly undereducated or a simple JERK.

    • sirbutch -  January 7, 2015 - 8:34 pm

      My view is that “person” is the implied object of “this” as in: “When you get old, this person (or this type of person) will take care of you.” Though I agree with others that without the word “person” or “type of person”, the statement sounds really rude especially if taken out of context.

  36. 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?

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

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

  37. 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?

    • S5 -  April 29, 2014 - 6:16 pm

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

      • tumpa dey -  November 27, 2014 - 7:01 am

        That is boy whome i met at the party..

      • Jean -  January 5, 2015 - 7:00 pm

        Person 1: ‘Who’ is they boy you met at the party?
        Person 2: He is the boy ‘who’ I met at the party.
        (points in a general direction)
        Person 1 Didn’t see where p2 pointed, and asks: ‘Whom’?

    • Marie -  January 1, 2015 - 8:32 am

      How about: He’s the boy I met at the party.

    • Richard -  January 2, 2015 - 3:36 am

      Don’t use either. Simply say, “That’s the boy I met at the party.” A better staement would be, “He’s the boy I met at the party.”

    • Terri Hobart -  January 2, 2015 - 4:51 pm

      Go to Dictionary.com then go to Grammar.

  38. 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…

    • Harvey Wachtel -  January 2, 2015 - 6:57 am

      If they haven’t done it already, it’s time for dictionary.com to do an article on the contrary-to-fact subjunctive mood (as in, “if it were…”). This (the use of past-tense forms to indicate untrue hypotheticals in the present tense) is so confusing that even the New York Times constantly screws it up.

      Anyway, I’m certainly with you on “irregardless”. I don’t know nothing that bothers me as much as a double negative.

      • Stephanie Jones -  January 6, 2015 - 3:42 am

        Uhh no, I don’t know ‘anything’ that bothers me as much as a double negative, is the correct version of that statement.

        “I don’t know nothing that bothers me as much as a double negative.”

        • Alec Lawson -  January 6, 2015 - 9:03 pm

          Well I don’t know nothing about the incorrectness of that correction & don’t you never not forget it.

  39. 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!!]

    • 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”.

    • Gali -  January 1, 2015 - 12:49 pm

      Well excuse me if i want to keep speaking the language i was raised on, yet still want to learn correct English grammar. I can’t believe people are still upset about people who live here yet speak another language besides English. Spanish is a beautiful language so why don’t you take your complaints somewhere else?

      • Shawn -  January 5, 2015 - 4:34 pm

        Being bi- or multi-lingual is a great blessing for an individual, but a great curse for a nation, because it is divisive, isolating, and polarizing. The story of the Tower of Babel is an illustration that fact. One Nation needs one language; one individual needs as many as one likes.

    • Lucyme -  January 2, 2015 - 10:11 pm

      Please do not use “irregardless” it is no a word. Regardless is the only word to use. In any circumstance. Thank you.

    • Katarina -  January 3, 2015 - 1:42 am

      Thanks, very helpful.

  40. 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”.

  41. 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.

    • CE -  January 6, 2015 - 11:03 am

      I try to think of ‘then’ as what is next, or as an element of time. The word ‘than’ is a comparison word.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

    • 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.

  44. 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.

    • Rachel -  January 26, 2015 - 5:28 pm

      Which article are you referring to, the one that mentions mystery and a person not present? Did dictionary.com take down that article? The current one doesn’t mention it at all.

  45. blood -  March 23, 2014 - 7:34 am

    i think it should people should remember grammar

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

    • 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.

  48. 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.

    • 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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”.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

    • Tyler -  January 5, 2015 - 6:18 pm

      No, it’s just correct grammar. If I am just talking to my friends, I won’t care as much. If I am seeking to sound professional and competent, I will certainly note the who/whom distinction.

  53. 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!

    • 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…

  54. Bill -  March 21, 2014 - 4:49 pm

    I like pizza.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

    • Bob -  December 30, 2014 - 12:13 pm

      “Au contraire”, C.W. It’s French.

  60. 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_?!

  61. Leslie -  March 20, 2014 - 4:39 pm

    I agree with BN – whomever that person might be!

  62. 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.

    • Leo -  December 30, 2014 - 7:12 pm

      Well said Ms Krista,.

    • Louisa -  January 8, 2015 - 8:20 pm

      I am in complete agreement. The misuse that irks me the most is “The team are on a winning streak” instead of “The team is on a winning streak”. That’s another topic for discussion!

      • Colin Cook -  January 11, 2015 - 11:30 am

        Another thing bothering me is the change of verb. I ask someone if they have got the keys. They reply “I do.” Should they not reply “I have.”? Or is the “do” to add emphasis? But they are changing the verb from “I have got” to “I do have”, which sounds a bit American, doesn’t it? ( I was shocked to hear one say “I do got” on one occasion!)

  63. 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.

  64. 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!!

    • Bob -  December 30, 2014 - 12:14 pm

      I would beg you to crawl back under your rock.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

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

    We hate it

  68. 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.

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

    Whom cares?

    • Alec Lawson -  January 6, 2015 - 9:16 pm

      Play nice now, Who-wan.

      • Monica -  January 8, 2015 - 11:29 am

        Did you know I’m Mexican?

  70. 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.

    • Geo -  January 5, 2015 - 9:30 pm

      Is the prase “Of whom are you a guest?” a correct English phrase? I am not talking about the word “whom” in that phrase, I am talking about the entire phrase and its syntax, which I find questionable. Wouldn’t saying “Whose guest are you?” be more correct syntactically?
      Perhaps a native English speaker can elucidate the above, as English is my second language.

      • Alec Lawson -  January 6, 2015 - 9:39 pm

        I think “Of whom are you a guest?” is probably correct but you are also right that it is a questionable use in this day and age. Your English is better than a lot of native speakers I know, Geo.

        • Geo -  January 12, 2015 - 4:04 pm

          Thanks Alec. I’ve been living in English Canada for a long time, so I’ve been compellled to speak English well, yet English will always be my second language:)

  71. 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!”

  72. 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.

    • Geo -  January 12, 2015 - 4:34 pm

      I understand your point, in the grand scheme of things, ‘who are you going to invite…’ is not an egregious error, and it is not my place to tell an English teacher how to mark his students’ writing.
      But my observation, most HS grads have a pretty poor vocabulary, for example, most dont know what ‘feign’ means,and grammar isnt taught systematically (i.e no.breaking down of a sentence, pointing subject, object etc). Any idea why?

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

    • kim -  January 3, 2015 - 6:55 pm

      D. V. Brown

      Be thankful that you do not live where I do as you would have to cope with the daily torture of hearing ” I done seen…..” and, one of my personal favorites, “I’m going get my hairs cut”.

  75. 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.

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

    I wonder whom wrote this article?

  77. 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

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

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

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

    Should a whoddunit mystery actually be a whomdunnit?

    • Louisa -  January 8, 2015 - 8:26 pm

      Nope. Whodunnit to whom would be correct!

  80. 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.

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

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


  82. 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.

  83. 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

    • Mark -  November 15, 2014 - 7:16 am

      The fact that you use whom and whomever after a preposition is true EXCEPT in cases in which an entire clause is the object of the preposition: “I give thanks to whoever did this.” HE or SHE or THEY did this, not HIM or HER or THEM did this.

  84. 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

  85. Chris -  March 18, 2014 - 2:27 pm

    There are much more words disappearing now days

  86. FedTotallyUp -  March 18, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    How about those ebonics?

  87. 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.

  88. 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.

  89. 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.

  90. 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?

  91. 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.

  92. 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?

    • lee Morgan -  January 1, 2015 - 4:40 pm

      i think it probably should be whom, because the pronoun is used in apposition to the noun (bedford) which is the object of the preposition ‘with.’

  93. 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.

    • Louisa -  January 8, 2015 - 8:31 pm

      I was always taught not to end a sentence with a preposition, notwithstanding spellcheck!

  94. 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 .

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 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?

  98. 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.

  99. 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.

  100. 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.”

  101. 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.

  102. 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.”

  103. 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.

  104. 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?”

  105. 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.

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

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

  107. 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.

  108. 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”


    — Who should come with us?

  109. 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)?
    To who(m) should I give it?

    Does “I” work?

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


    Does “me” work?

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


    So use “whom.”

  110. 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…..

  111. 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.

  112. Manish -  March 16, 2014 - 11:04 pm

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

  113. 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.

  114. 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.

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

    I think we should just all learn to speak Russian

    • can you pls teach us how -  December 30, 2014 - 11:12 am

      Can you please teach us to learn the language

  116. 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

  117. 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!

  118. Henry -  March 16, 2014 - 2:49 am

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

    • Alec Lawson -  January 6, 2015 - 9:48 pm

      Unless “Doctor” is a verb, then your commentary should read, “Woo-Whom”.

  119. 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.

  120. 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.

  121. 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.

  122. 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. ;)

  123. 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.

  124. 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.

  125. 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.”?!

  126. 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.

  127. 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?”

  128. 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?”

  129. ;) -  March 14, 2014 - 1:29 pm

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

  130. 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’.

  131. 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.

  132. 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.’

    • Kris -  January 3, 2015 - 10:12 pm

      I fully agree with Snetterton!

  133. 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.

  134. ripuree -  March 14, 2014 - 9:54 am

    I think the word whom should be kept.

  135. REY -  March 14, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Best explanation of “whom” in history.

  136. 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.

  137. 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.

  138. 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.

  139. 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?

  140. 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.

  141. 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!!

  142. 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.

  143. 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?

  144. 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.

  145. 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.

    • Louisa -  January 8, 2015 - 8:43 pm

      No where I come from! “With whom did you meet?” and “With whom are you going.”!!

      Never end a sentence with a preposition!

  146. 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!

  147. 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.

  148. 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…!

  149. Haseeb -  March 13, 2014 - 7:55 am

    ‘WHOM’ is irreplaceable.

  150. Molly -  March 13, 2014 - 7:55 am

    Thank you Will. That made simple to remember!

  151. 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.

  152. 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.

  153. 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.

  154. (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.

  155. 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.

  156. (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

  157. 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.

  158. 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.

  159. 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.

  160. joy -  December 9, 2012 - 4:25 pm

    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.

  161. 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.

  162. 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).

  163. 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.

  164. 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.

  165. 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.

  166. 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.

  167. Fey -  November 5, 2012 - 11:18 am

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

  168. Tony -  November 2, 2012 - 4:19 pm

    this comment section…makes me sickly

  169. 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.

  170. potatochips74321 -  October 30, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    some of y’all are fanatics

  171. 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.

  172. 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?

  173. 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.

  174. 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”.

  175. 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?

  176. 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!

  177. 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.

  178. 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”?

  179. Bethyy -  October 29, 2012 - 7:54 am

    Keep whom! Grammar makes the world go round!!

  180. 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.

  181. 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.

  182. 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.

  183. 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?

  184. 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.

  185. 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

  186. Midsummer -  October 28, 2012 - 8:04 pm

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

  187. 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.

  188. Phillip -  October 28, 2012 - 3:58 pm

    Cool. Whom may that dude be? LOL

  189. 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!

  190. 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.

  191. ginnie -  October 28, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    Rock on whom!!!

  192. 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.

  193. 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.


  194. 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…

  195. 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.

  196. 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.

  197. jeffrey -  October 28, 2012 - 7:43 am

    im overwomed

  198. Carole -  October 28, 2012 - 2:44 am

    A professor once told my class:


  199. Frenchlove -  October 27, 2012 - 11:59 pm

    We should keep whom!
    :) TOTALLY!

  200. 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”.

  201. 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.

  202. 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. :)

  203. 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.

  204. pobjoy -  October 27, 2012 - 2:34 pm

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

  205. 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.

  206. 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.

  207. Yoda -  October 27, 2012 - 12:34 pm

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

  208. 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”!

  209. Daria -  October 27, 2012 - 11:21 am

    Whoo Whom!

  210. 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.

  211. 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!

  212. 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!

  213. 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.

  214. 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.

    “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.

  215. 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.

  216. 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.

  217. 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!)

  218. 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.

  219. 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)

  220. 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.

  221. 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.)

  222. GRace -  October 26, 2012 - 11:31 am

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

  223. 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

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

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

  225. Kartik -  October 26, 2012 - 9:20 am

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

  226. 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.

  227. 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.”

  228. 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!

  229. 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!

  230. 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.

  231. 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.

  232. Sr -  October 26, 2012 - 4:30 am


  233. 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?

  234. 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.

  235. 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.

  236. Sean -  October 25, 2012 - 10:27 pm

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

  237. Dani -  October 25, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    “Whom” must stay!

  238. McMuffinCakes4bout99centsOnlyatMcdonalds -  October 25, 2012 - 9:56 pm

    Mom, can we keep it!?

  239. 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!

  240. 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.

  241. 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.

  242. 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/

  243. 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.

  244. 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

  245. 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.

  246. 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…

  247. 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.

  248. 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.

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


  250. 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.’

  251. 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

  252. 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?

  253. 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?

  254. 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! :)

  255. 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.

  256. 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 :)

    • mohsin -  January 7, 2015 - 3:08 pm

      Dirk Bones and the mystery of the haunted house / story and pictures by Doug Cushman.

  257. 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.

  258. 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 . . .

  259. 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

  260. 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.

  261. 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!

  262. Danny -  October 25, 2012 - 2:29 pm

    Wow! WHO screwed up this article!!!

  263. 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.

  264. Eyewitness -  October 25, 2012 - 2:18 pm


    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!!

  265. 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.

  266. 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.

  267. 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.

  268. 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?’

  269. 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.

  270. 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.

  271. 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.

  272. Andrew -  October 25, 2012 - 1:13 pm

    To whom are you asking this question?

  273. 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.

  274. 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.”


  275. 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.”

  276. 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 : )

  277. 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!

  278. 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.

  279. 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.

  280. 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.

  281. 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.

  282. 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.”

  283. 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.

  284. ada -  October 25, 2012 - 10:23 am


  285. 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 [...]

  286. 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.

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

    ok this is interesting

  288. Deyan -  October 25, 2012 - 10:10 am

    Sorry, I mean ‘forget’.

  289. Renee Riley -  October 25, 2012 - 10:10 am

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

  290. 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…

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

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

  292. 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?

  293. 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.

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

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

  295. 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.

  296. 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?”

  297. 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!

  298. 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.

  299. 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!

  300. 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?

  301. 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.

  302. 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.

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


  304. 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.

  305. 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.”

  306. 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

  307. 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.


  308. 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.

  309. 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.

  310. 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.

  311. 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.

  312. 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?

  313. 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.

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

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

  315. 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.

  316. 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.

  317. 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.

  318. 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.

  319. 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.

  320. 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.

  321. 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.]

  322. 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.

  323. heather -  October 25, 2012 - 7:47 am


  324. 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!

  325. 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”.

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

    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!

  327. 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.

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

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

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

  329. 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.

  330. 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.

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

    Whom cares?

  332. 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.

  333. 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.

  334. Marie -  October 25, 2012 - 7:14 am

    Yes, it’s a keeper.

  335. Joker -  October 25, 2012 - 7:14 am

    Whomever cares… :-)

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

    Great information. Very helpful to me.

  337. 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.

  338. 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.

  339. Josh -  October 25, 2012 - 6:44 am

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

  340. 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. :)

  341. 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.

    Glen Meyer

  342. Anon -  October 25, 2012 - 6:33 am

    Yup. I just think it sounds cool.

  343. 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.

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

    Without “whom”, with whom could I communicate?

  345. 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?”

  346. 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.

  347. 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.

  348. 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.

  349. KnowBull -  October 25, 2012 - 5:58 am

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

  350. 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!

  351. 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

  352. 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!

  353. 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.

  354. 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”.

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

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

  356. 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!

  357. 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”.

  358. 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?”

  359. Theo -  October 25, 2012 - 5:07 am

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

  360. 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.

  361. 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.

  362. 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.

  363. 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!!

  364. 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

  365. 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

  366. Mabel Roberts-Cole -  October 25, 2012 - 3:53 am

    YES, most definately…..Whom is a proper promoun because of the unknown .

  367. 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.

  368. 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.

  369. 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.

  370. 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”.


  371. 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.

  372. 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..?

  373. Eric Wood -  October 25, 2012 - 2:13 am

    To whom am I leaving this comment to….whom ?