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        Who vs. Whom: When to Use Which [& Why It’s Important]

        • calenderAug 21, 2023
        • calender 4 min read

        The words who vs. whom are often mixed up when it comes to colloquial English. So much so that even native speakers use who where whom should be present. Such minor indiscretions do not cause much harm when it comes to day-to-day language. Some may even argue that the whom and who debate is unnecessary and comes across as pedantic. 

        However, when it comes to formal or academic writing every little error counts, and they only detract from the quality of your work. Therefore, it may be helpful to understand the correct application of these words. 

        In this article, we will guide you through just that. Let’s start from the beginning: What exactly is the difference between who and whom?

        What is the difference between who and whom?

        Who in a sentence represents the doer or performer of a particular action. On the other hand, whom is the receiver of the action. This means that who is the subject of the sentence, whereas, whom is the object. 

        The following example can better explain the difference between the two:

        Who is coming to the party, and to whom should I address the invitation?

        In the above sentence, who is a pronoun used to address the doer of an action, that is “coming to the party”. On the other hand, whom is someone who is the receiver of the action “addressing the invitation to”

        A helpful trick to understanding the difference between the two is to replace both these words with corresponding pronouns. For instance, who can be replaced by subject pronouns such as I, he, she, they, and we. Similarly, whom can be replaced by object pronouns such as me, him, her, them, and us

        The above question “Who is coming to the party” can be answered by “She is coming to the party”. On the other hand, “whom should I address the invitation to?” can be answered using “I should address the invitation to her”. 

        Now that we’ve understood the basic difference between the two, let us understand when to use whom or who

        When to use who vs. whom?

        Wondering whether to use who or whom? The use of who is pretty straightforward, since it acts as a subject in a sentence or clause. Who can be used as a relative pronoun that is used to introduce a subordinate clause. It can also function as an interrogative pronoun usually placed at the beginning of a question.  

        Here are a few example sentences:

        The student who aced the exam received a special award.

        That girl, who lives across from my apartment, is my sister.

        Who won the singing competition?

        When to use whom vs. who?

        The use of whom is slightly more complicated as compared to that of who. Whom functions as an object in sentences and clauses and is sometimes used with prepositions such as to, from, with, and by.  However, there is no significant difference between whom and whom when it comes to meaning.

        Here are a few example sentences:

        Whom did they invite to the party?

        The letter is from a friend whom I met last summer.

        I would like to know with whom I will be working.

        Who vs. whom examples

        The question of when to use who or whom is further complicated by phrases. In order to properly understand when to use whom or who, we need to understand how each of these words function in multiple example phrases. 

        Let’s take a look at a few whom vs. who example phrases:

        To who or whom?

        The correct phrase here is to whom. Although to who is used more often in spoken English, the grammatically correct version is to whom

        This is because whom functions as an object for the preposition to. So when choosing between to whom or to who, when it comes to formal language, always go for to whom

        Here are a few example sentences:

        To whom it may concern, I am writing to express my interest in the job opening.

        Kindly address the payment to the supplier to whom we owe the outstanding amount.

        Please direct your questions to the customer service representative to whom you spoke earlier.

        With who or with whom

        The correct usage is with whom. Whom functions as an object for the preposition with in the phrase with whom

        So, when deciding between with whom or with who, the answer is with whom. However, when it comes to informal settings who can be used to replace whom.

        Here are a few whom vs. who examples: 

        She collaborated with a talented designer with whom she had worked before.

        I am pleased to introduce John, with whom I have had the pleasure of working closely.

        Please meet our new team member, with whom you will be collaborating on upcoming projects.

        Whom I love or who I love

        The correct phrase is whom I love. When it comes to the following phrase, it’s relatively easier to pick out the correct word. Simply make note of the subject, verb, and object. In the case of whom / who I love:

        • I functions as a subject.
        • Love functions as the verb.
        • Hence, whom functions as the object.

        Here are a few examples using the phrase whom I love:

        I owe much of my success to my mentors, whom I love and respect for their guidance.

        The people in my neighborhood, whom I love, have created a warm and welcoming environment.

        I have a fantastic team at work, whom I love working with because of their dedication and talent.

        Those whom or who

        Both of these phrases are correct. Who is a pronoun that is directly used to address those. Hence, it functions as the subject of the phrase. However, this changes when certain prepositions such as of are introduced to the phrase. In this case, the phrase changes to those of whom, since whom functions as an object for the preposition of

        Let’s look at a few examples of both these phrases.

        Example phrases using those who:

        Those who work hard will reap the rewards.

        In times of crisis, it’s those who remain calm and composed who lead the way.

        The winners are always those who put in their best effort.

        Example phrases using those of/for/with whom:

        Among the candidates interviewed for the position, there were a few exceptional individuals, those of whom the hiring manager was particularly interested in.

        The organization values employees’ feedback, especially those with whom we have regular meetings.

        The scholarship program is designed to support exceptional students, particularly those for whom financial constraints might hinder higher education.

        Many of whom or many of who

        The correct usage here is many of whom. The preposition of is present in the phrase many of whom, whom functions as an object for this preposition. 

        Here’s how this phrase can be used: 

        Our team consists of thirty members, many of whom are highly experienced professionals.

        In the survey, over 80% of the respondents expressed positive feedback, many of whom praised the customer service.

        The university has a diverse student population, with students from various countries, many of whom are pursuing advanced degrees.

        Now that you’ve understand the use of whom vs. who you’re one step closer to perfect grammar.

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        Nandita Linkedin

        Nandita is a budding writer with a background in Psychology. She adores mysterious movies with unusual plots, cozy coffee houses, and any conversation involving Agatha Christie!

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