myQBook Grammar Concept



Common Mistakes: Who vs. Whom

Another common area of confusion among many students is the usage of the relative pronouns "who" and "whom". The rules for their usage are as follows:

 

·         Use “who” when the noun or pronoun that it refers to is the subject of the phrase or clause.

·         Use “whom” when the noun or pronoun that it refers to is the object of the phrase or clause. Consider the following examples:

 

Jenny loved the man who gave her flowers every day.

Joseph was mad at the girl whom John worked with.

 

In the first example, the relative pronoun “who” is referring to the noun “man”. Here, the man is performing the action of giving Jenny flowers every day, so “man” is the subject. Therefore, the relative pronoun “who” is used.

 

A good way of confirming the choice of who or whom is to ask the question, "Who gives the flowers to Jenny every day?" If the answer is in the nominative (subjective) case, use "who" as the relative pronoun. Otherwise, use "whom". In this case, the answer would be

"he gives flowers to Jenny every day,"

not "him gives flowers to Jenny every day."

Since “he” is in the subjective case, the correct relative pronoun is "who".

 

In the second example, the relative pronoun “whom” is referring to the noun “girl”. Here, the girl is receiving the action of John working with her. “Girl” is the object of the preposition “with”. In the same way as before, you can confirm this by asking the question;

“Who does John work with?”

The answer to this question is

“John worked with her,

not “John worked with she.

Since “her” is in the objective case, the "girl" requires the relative pronoun “whom”.

 

Another area of confusion among many students is the usage of the interrogative pronouns “who” and “whom”, which we will discuss in the next grade level.

 





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Common Mistakes: That vs. Which
Demonstrative Pronouns

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