Grammar Whoever vs. Whomever |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Whoever vs. Whomever

In the “English Rules” section of our website, and in our blog post Who vs. Whom, you will find our simple explanation for determining whether to use who or whom.

Briefly, this is the trick:
who = he (subject pronouns)
whom = him (object pronouns)

Example: Who/Whom is at the door?
He is at the door.

Example: For who/whom should I vote?
Should I vote for him?

To determine whether to use whoever or whomever,  the he/him trick still applies:
he = whoever
him = whomever

Rule 1: The presence of whoever or whomever indicates a dependent clause. Use whoever or whomever to agree with the verb in that dependent clause, regardless of the rest of the sentence.

Give it to whoever/whomever asks for it first.
He asks for it first. Therefore, whoever is correct.

We will hire whoever/whomever you recommend.
You recommend him. Therefore, whomever is correct.

We will hire whoever/whomever is most qualified.
He is most qualified. Therefore, whoever is correct.

Rule 2: When the entire whoever/whomever clause is the subject of the verb that follows the clause, analyze the clause to determine whether to use whoever or whomever.

Whoever is elected will serve a four-year term.
Whoever is the subject of is elected. The clause whoever is elected is the subject of will serve.

Whomever you elect will serve a four-year term.
Whomever is the object of elect. Whomever you elect is the subject of will serve.


Pop Quiz

  1. Omar will talk about his girlfriend with whoever/whomever asks him.
  2. Kimiko donates her time to whoever/whomever needs it most.
  3. Quinton will work on the project with whoever/whomever you suggest.
  4. Whoever/Whomever wins the lottery will become a millionaire.


Pop Quiz Answers

  1. Omar will talk about his girlfriend with whoever asks him.
  2. Kimiko donates her time to whoever needs it most.
  3. Quinton will work on the project with whomever you suggest.
  4. Whoever wins the lottery will become a millionaire.

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

16 responses to “Whoever vs. Whomever

  1. Melissa says:

    I work for a company that has a “who to call” list. They have named the list “Whom to Call.” Is this grammatically correct? Does it matter when it is the name of a list?

  2. Jackie says:

    On the first pop quiz question, please explain why Whomever is not correct since this sentence ends in “him.”

  3. J.k says:

    Great lesson, thank you!

    So what about this sentence:
    “I will go with you whomever\whoever you are”

    Do I use whom because it will be (you are him)
    Or do I use who because (you are) = (he is) ?

  4. Andrew says:

    Would one say something is to be done ‘by whoever’ or ‘by whomever’?

    • The answer depends on the complete sentence. Examples:
      The unfinished project will be done by whoever is available.
      The project will be done by whomever the supervisor recommends.

  5. RKM says:

    So if I have a sentence “I can’t tell if they were refolded by whoever/whomever opened them.” Which is correct?

    I could say “He opened them.” …so who.
    Or “They were opened by him.” …so whom.

    -I’m stumped.

    • Whoever is correct because it is the subject of the independent clause whoever opened them. This entire independent clause is the object of the preposition by.

  6. Neil says:

    Mercy College has a new slogan: “Open To Whoever You Are.” Is this correct?

    • It depends on the intention of the sentence. We’re guessing that Mercy College means something to the effect: We’re open to whoever you are as an individual. Whoever is correct as a subject complement to the state-of-being verb are. (See I Subject, Your Honor, for more discussion.)

      However, whomever would be correct if the intent was We’re open to whomever you are open to (which is not likely in this case).

  7. Travis says:

    Writing up some documentation, I’m putting in the line, “Buyers (or whoever/whomever) will then [carry out this task].” Since buyers is a job title and one could say “he is a buyer,” would it constitute using whoever?

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