Grammar Who vs. Whom |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Who vs. Whom

Let’s crack the code for who and whom. It is easier than you might imagine. In addition, I will give you the technique for learning when to use whoever vs. whomever. The following are informal methods rather than rules; however, they really work!

Rule: Use who when you could replace it with he.

Example: Who/whom is standing by the gate?

We would say, “He is standing by the gate.” So who is correct.

Example: Gail wished she knew who/whom won.

Gail wished is a subject and verb pair (also called a clause). She knew is another subject and verb pair (clause). Who/whom won, the third clause, is the one we care about here. We would say, “He won.” So who is correct.

Use whom when you could replace it with him.

Example: To who/whom am I speaking?

Let’s turn the question into a sentence to make it easier: I am speaking to who/whom. We would say, “I am speaking to him.” Therefore, whom is correct.

Example: Hank wanted to know who/whom they trusted.

Hank wanted to know is a clause. That leaves who/whom they trusted. Again, let’s turn the question into a sentence: Who/whom did they trust? We would say, “They trusted him.” Therefore, whom is correct.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice to know when to use whoever and whomever with confidence? Then see our grammar tips Whoever vs. Whomever and Whoever Would Use Whomever: Read On.


Pop Quiz

1. Who/Whom should I ask to the dance?
2. Cedric hasn’t decided who/whom should be appointed yet.
3. I’m looking for an assistant on who/whom I can depend.


Pop Quiz Answers

1. Whom should I ask to the dance?
2. Cedric hasn’t decided who should be appointed yet.
3. I’m looking for an assistant on whom I can depend.

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.

117 responses to “Who vs. Whom

  1. Eric Levy says:

    can you tell me which to use in the following sentence (who vs whom)?

    “Every Wednesday, Enid still brings soup to homeless people, including those (who, whom) she meets on the boardwalk.”


  2. Tina says:

    Can you tell me which to use in the following sentence?

    He interviewed several candidates who/whom he thought had the experience and qualifications he required.

    Thank you.

  3. Jane says:

    Here is how to break this sentence down:
    He interviewed several candidates.
    he thought ______ had the experience and qualifications
    he required.

    The blank could be replaced by “he” so “who” is the answer.

  4. ryan says:

    Someone asks, “To whom was she talking”?


    1) I am to whom she was talking.
    2) I am whom she was talking to.
    3) She was talking to me.

    If 3 is the only answer, and wouldn’t 1 or 2 work?

  5. Emily says:

    I’m using the he/him substitution to try to explain who/whom to my English class, and I’m noping it will be helpful.

    I’m hitting a little trouble with a situation like: Who/whom is that present for? “Who is that present for” sounds much more natural, but the substitution would be “That present is for him.” I know that in the original question, the who/whom is technically the object of the preposition “for,” even though it’s at the end of the sentence (my research says that’s okay, I think), but “Whom is that present for” sounds really strange.

    • Jane says:

      The correct usage is “Whom is the present for?” Perhaps it would sound more natural to you if you simply reword the sentence. If the sentence read “That present is for whom?” it does not sound as awkward. The word “whom” is a commonly misused word, so it is not surprising that you consider it strange sounding.

  6. Mary says:

    Correct? or maybe I’m the one with a problem . . .

    Get broad multimodality perspectives and unique insights from a diverse team of respected editors and contributors–many of whom are new to this edition–affiliated with institutions across North America and internationally.

    Many thanks!

    • Whom is correct. Of whom is a prepositional phrase which modifies the pronoun many. Whom is the object of the preposition, so the object form is used.

  7. Michael says:

    I saw a Bumper Sticker that did not appear to be correct. It was a dog paw that read “Who rescued who?” The intent is obvious. But if I reword the sentence, “His dog rescued him”, Who rescued whom appears more accurate. Am I correct in my thinking?

  8. Lia says:

    Which one is the correct form? It is a title of a book (not a question)

    “Whom is this book addressed to”
    “Who this book is addressed to”

    • In our blog “Who vs. Whom” the rule states, “Use whom when you could replace it with him.” You would say, “This book is addressed to him,” therefore, use the word whom. Even though you say that this is the title of a book, “Whom is this book addressed to?” is indeed a question, and I recommend the use of a question mark.
      Whom is this Book Addressed to? OR
      To Whom is this Book Addressed?

  9. Richard says:

    I read from different sources that in a clause, the subject is always before the verb, which is followed by an object.Passive and active voices has their subject and object switched around. EX: He (subject) ate a donut (object)VS. The donut (subject) was eaten by him (object).

    So following the logics above, why is “Who did you lend the book to” incorrect? WHO precedes you, and therefore should be the subject, while YOU is the object. Since the object YOU did the lending, this would be a passive voice?

    I know the answer is WHOM, but I am not seeing how this justify my theory. Is it flawed? Thanks

    • The subject is not always placed before the verb. In the sentence, “Whom did you lend the book to,” the subject is you and the object is book. Perhaps it is easier to see if you turn the sentence around to read “You did lend the book to whom?”

  10. jlu says:

    I act the same regardless of who I am with


    I act the same regardless of whom I am with

  11. Tony G. says:

    Just read the following sentence:

    They will charge more depending on who they play.

    Should it not be ‘whom’?

  12. Amy says:

    I would welcome collaborations with faculty members, many of whom have expertise that would allow me to add exciting new dimensions to my projects.

    Microsoft grammar check tells me this should be “who” but it sounds wrong to me and your rule above about “many of whom” also suggests it should be whom. I can’t figure out how to apply the he/him rule.

  13. Mia S. says:

    I just took the grammar mastery test you have.
    And one thing bugs me.
    Question 21: Who are you voting for?
    You said the correct answer is Whom, because you would ask “Are you voting for him” and whom is for he/him.
    Which makes sense, only:
    There are female candidates. I would not ask “Are you voting for him” if I were referring to a female candidate.
    So wouldn’t it be better to update it to WHO are you voting for? Because who is gender neutral? Just a thought.

    • The words who and whom are completely gender neutral. In our book and on our website we teach the he/him rule simply because it is easy to correlate to who/whom: He = who and him = whom (both the words him and whom end with the letter m). We could just as well teach it as the she/her rule where she = who and her = whom, but that’s harder to remember.

      Thus, the answer will always be Whom are you voting for? This is gender neutral because it correlates either to Are you voting for him or to Are you voting for her?

  14. Vivienne Wall says:

    Could you kindly rule on the following sentence?

    “Who do you want to be the next Prime Minister?”

    The answer could be “I want him to be the next Prime Minister”, but to start the question with “Whom” seems wrong. Does it make a difference that the verb “to be” is in the question?

    Many thanks.

    • It is not wrong to start a question with the word whom. The phrase “to be” does make a difference. The following are both correct:
      “Whom do you want to be the next prime minister?” (I want him to be the next prime minister.)

      “Who do you hope is the next prime minister?” (I hope he is the next prime minister.)

  15. Tim K. says:

    I have a question that’s been confusing and plaguing me for some time. It has to do with the proper times to use “whom”. Of course, when the person is the obvious object of a preposition, I have no problem. But what to do when a subject-verb phrase is the object? For instance: “I am (who/whom) I am.” Which should it be, in that case. Here’s another: “I saw (who/whom) took the saw.” Or, “I remembered (who/whom) was twelve at that time.” These aren’t good examples (I can’t think of just the right ones at the moment) but perhaps you get the gist of the question.

    Thanks so much for any light you can shine!

    • The answer to all three of your who-whom questions is “who.” In the first one, “am” is a form of the verb “to be,” which never takes an object (I am he, If he were who I think he is).

      Your second and third examples are more problematic, because “saw” and “remembered” are transitive verbs that take objects in those two sentences. However, the objects in both cases are noun clauses, and a noun clause must stay grammatically true to itself whether or not it’s an object. Therefore, “who took the saw” and “who was twelve” are the right answers.

  16. John Duval says:

    Your answer on “Hank wanted to know who/whom they trusted” is actually incorrect: “who” is the correct answer.

    The deep structure is:

    “Hank wanted to know WHO the person whom they trusted WAS”,

    where “whom” is a relative pronoun, not an interrogative, and where it must therefore refer to a nominal (I have used “person”).

  17. John Duval says:

    Your analysis is too simplistic.

    You can’t just divide the sentence (as you have) into 2 discrete clauses:

    “Hank wanted to know”
    “whom they trusted”

    because you are then (with regard to your intended semantic) necessarily using “know” intransitively, and accordingly have no way to actually link the two clauses together to form a sentence.

    Commensurately, your idea produces an ambiguity: “know” in your sentence can currently be rendered either as it is in “I knew him personally” (where “know” is transitive and “him” object), or as it is in “I knew who it was”, the latter being your intent and where “who it was” is merely cognate with “know”.

    In German, these two alternatives are actually catered for by 2 different verbs, “kennen” and “wissen” (respectively), but in English we only have one “know”. You have introduced an ambiguity between what would be the German equivalents, and your idea accordingly fails.

    What I have said is correct: it is who, not whom. I have not rewritten the sentence, but have shown the deep structure of what it is we are actually saying. I suggest you do a bit more reading in linguistics: language issues are rarely analysed simply.

    • We beg to differ. We think our “simplistic” analysis is correct and easy for our readers to understand. Our website does not focus on linguistics, and we try to simplify and explain the rules of English so that students and non-English speakers can comprehend them. On the other hand, your explanation might be too confusing and difficult to comprehend for some of our readers who are struggling with the English language.

  18. KMRDK says:

    I was reading my English text book about forming questions and I noticed the following example sentence: “Who are they looking for?”
    Isn’t it has to be “Whom are they looking for?” if the answer will be “They are looking for HIM/HER?”?

    • Yes, whom is correct.

    • Cami says:

      The problem here is how the question is phrased. You shouldn’t end with a preposition, so the question needs to be:
      For whom are they looking?

      • says:

        Our Rule 1 of Prepositions says, “A preposition generally, but not always, goes before its noun or pronoun. One of the undying myths of English grammar is that you may not end a sentence with a preposition … Just do not use extra prepositions when the meaning is clear without them.” Therefore, either Whom are they looking for? or For whom are they looking? is grammatically correct.

  19. rstuv says:

    I’ve read through these rules, but am still having trouble when the who/whom comes as the last word in a sentence.
    “Someone called it ‘bad’, but they did not know who/whom.”
    My gut thinks it would be whom, but I think the rules are saying it would be who, but the syntax makes it confusing. Could you weight in?
    Thank you so much.

  20. LShopeful13 says:

    I believe I am over analyzing this sentence, but I could use some help as to whether to use “who” or “whom”. The sentence is as follows:

    Whether this was because of my incredible reasoning skills or because I could fight, and win, an argument with a door, depends on who/whom is asked.

    Your assistance would be very much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  21. Chi says:

    I have applied your rule every where and it works wonders but this one has stumped me…

    The person (who/whom) I am referring to is not present in the audience.

    Now, I can either ask “whom am I referring to? (since the answer is him). But then I can also ask, “who is not present in the audience” (since the answer is ‘he is not present’)

    Which one is correct? Which part of the sentence should I ask a question of?

    Thanks a lot.

  22. Mike says:

    Give the job to the most qualified candidate, whoever/whomever it may be.

    I say “whoever” is correct because:

    “He (not him) is the most qualified–thus, “whoever” is the correct choice here, right? We wouldn’t say, “Him is the most qualified.” WHOMEVER is incorrect. Please confirm. Thanks.

  23. John Nordquist says:

    Who/whom do we think we are?

    We think we are him.

    Therefore, “Whom do we think we are?”

    • Since you need to use the subject form, write “Who do we think we are?” Using the he/him technique, you would say “we think we are he.” With forms of the verb to be, the subject complement he, not the object pronoun him, is used.

  24. Rosie Emery says:

    I have a question. In the following sentence should it be who or whom:

    If I was the body down below, whom was the ‘I’ observing everything from above? Whom was the ‘I’ thinking these thoughts?

    Be grateful for your clarification.

  25. Mary Kelly says:

    Could someone please clarify the proper form of the following sentence? Many thanks!

    “You never know with whom your path will cross along the way.”


    “You never know with who your path will cross along the way.”

  26. mtlion says:

    This one came from an advert:
    (and it is driving me crazy)

    “I’m so proud of who/whom they’ve become.”

    I dissect as follows:
    I am so proud of who/whom they have become–>
    I am so proud of who/whom & who/whom they have become
    I am so proud of him == I am so proud of whom
    he has become == they have become
    **Thus I choose “whom”.

    who/whom they have become–>
    They have become who/whom–>
    He has become who/whom–>
    Who he has become?????????
    **Here am I forced to choose “who”?

    So I am challenged by the overlap of the two clauses and by which takes precedent.
    I seems my dissection would divide the sentence into two segments, one of which is rendered less than what it was.
    I am so proud of whom/who they have become.
    I am so proud of whom/who & they have become. OR
    I am so proud of & whom/who they have become.

    If this were a simpler sentence of an interrogative rather than a declaration it would be “whom”, eg
    I am so proud of whom? Of whom am I so proud?

    However as a fuller equation is seems more difficult to solve.
    [I am so proud of (whom they have become)] “feels” more precise than [I am so proud of whom (they have become)] because “they have become” is incomplete to my inner ear.

    So I tried it this way–casting a fuller sentence, again substituting “him” for “who/whom”:
    I am so proud of him, and who he has become.
    My inner ear thought this was correct, until I transposed the second clause: he has become who?

    Reducing it all, I wonder if this can be solved by better understanding the verb “to become”.

    Looking for an answer, I found a similar question with comments:
    Is the sentence “We are so proud of who you have become.” correct, or should it be “We are so proud of whom you have become.” ?

    In the comments one person stated the following:
    I understand your confusion, but the answer is “who”. The verb “become” can’t take an object. “Who have you become?” not “Whom have you become?”

    However other comments stated “who” as the correct form.

    I profess ignorance on the “cannot take an object” topic.

    The advert itself is of no help, as first, it is an advert and cannot be held to formal grammar, if casual speech will sell more product. Second, even the advert producer’s were hesitant as they reduced the dialogue sound layer to almost nothing as the “m” on whom is pronounced. In fact, some fellow viewer’s cannot be sure they hear the “m” at all.

    Help, please? Insanity is lurking nearby.

    • The answer is “who.” The verb “become” can’t take an object. We should say, “Who have you become?” not “Whom have you become?”
      We hope we’ve saved you from the asylum.

  27. TJ says:

    On this particular day, Lamont’s friends were badgering him about whom/who he would ask out.

    So, I am almost certain this is whom, since he would ask her out. But, it doesn’t sound quite right, so I figured why not ask an expert.

  28. Anne says:

    I need help with this-

    I know for sure who/whom I wanna be with..

  29. VWL says:

    I am still lost… Which is correct?
    > who am I, to have the last word?
    > whom am I, to have the last word?

  30. Ama says:

    Can someone please answer this question for me

    “If I had known (who/whom) he was, I would have been more friendly. and

    “The two men (who/whom) the police arrested for parking are gone

  31. Ela says:

    Can someone please help me determine which between who and whom is the correct pronoun to use in the sentence:

    He was the plumber _____ we thought could repair the leaking bathroom faucet.

    Thank you!

  32. M. Lee. says:

    I was quite proud of myself, thinking ‘yay, I’ve finally got a handle on this whole he=who/him=whom mnemonic. (Deep felt gratitude for that, by the way.) I was explaining it to my daughter . . . and then she stumped me with the ‘He Who Shall Not be Named’ reference from Harry Potter.
    Not that I am doubting J.K.R’s grammatical chops . . . but if you could please explain if this is indeed correct and if so, how and why?
    That would be wonderful.

  33. J says:

    My question is regarding this sentence:
    From who/whom?

  34. Regina says:

    Who saved who
    Who saved whom ?

  35. Sandra says:

    Which would be correct?
    A. “Who am I?”
    B. “Whom am I?”

  36. Karen says:

    I have read the rules but still a little confused. Which is correct in this sentence who or with whom?
    He has many friends with whom he talks to and plays with.

  37. Jonás says:

    I think I understood the explanation but I still have a doubt.
    I want to say: Be thankful to who/whom tells you the truth.
    According to the method it would be “to who”, right?
    Thank you

    • You are correct. The full clause “who tells you the truth” is the object of the preposition “to”; therefore, “who” would remain a subject.

      Since your sentence contains a dependent clause, you may also write “Be thankful to whoever tells you the truth.” See our post Whoever vs. Whomever.

      Whether you use “who” or “whoever” is a matter of style and preference.

  38. Farley says:

    I want my children to be proud of who/whom they are.

  39. Alicia says:

    Thank you. This was very helpful, but still have a little doubt.
    “I would recommend this to people who/whom enjoy traveling.”

    ‘Whom’ is correct? As in ‘I would recommend this to HIM.’

    • There are two clauses in this sentence. Who/whom enjoy is the one we care about here. We would say, “He enjoys traveling”; therefore, who is correct.

  40. Katie says:

    What shall I use in this sentence?
    “Someone who/whom you trust will betray you.”

  41. Jaby says:

    What is the correct form for the sentence-
    “who/whom do you want to be,if not yourself?”

  42. Ntokozo says:

    I’m asking if I should be using who/whom in this sentence since I still have problems..

    “Who/whom I am thought to be by my mom, is in my facial expression”

  43. Kelly says:

    Who or Whom – can’t make it make sense:

    The student body President-elect knew exactly (who, whom) he wanted to thank for help with his campaign. Leaning towards who.
    Sometimes my parents have a low tolerance for (me, my) playing Rap music, even though I play my music in my bedroom.

    • The object form whom is correct in your first sentence. You would say, “He wanted to thank him.”
      In your second sentence, the word playing is a gerund. It is formed when the verb play has -ing added to it and is used as a noun. Our post What Is a Gerund and Why Care? says, “It is helpful to recognize gerunds because if a noun or pronoun precedes a gerund, it is usually best to use the possessive form of that noun or pronoun.” Therefore, use the possessive prounoun my.

  44. Kathleen says:

    I’m second guessing myself — who or whom?

    “I have some new associates whom I’ve asked to work on their public speaking skills as part of their Development Plans.”

    I’m thinking that, in a separate sentence, I would say “I’ve asked them….” Therefore, “them” is the objective pronoun, which corresponds to “whom.”

    The Pop Quiz example from above (“Cedric hasn’t decided who should be appointed yet.”) is throwing me off.

  45. Christine says:

    So if I wanted to say “Remember, we are in a much better place than whomever did this awful thing!”

  46. Allie says:

    When asked “Guess who I saw today?” a co-worker always replies, “Whom?” Is she right? Furthermore, isn’t the person asking the question wrong for using ‘who’?

  47. Alice Lowe says:

    Which is correct?
    May I know who you are?
    May I know whom you are?
    This came up in a language course I am doing and I am confused as to what the right answer is. I thought it was whom but the answer was given as who. Thank you

  48. Zar says:

    When can we omit who or whom in the sentences? Could someone explain with some example?

  49. Kim says:

    The spreadsheet will show you who nominated who/whom for each role.

  50. Tej says:

    I want to say to my partner “the man whom I am proud of.”
    Is this correct or not?

  51. Connie Judy says:

    My parents are so proud of who the boys have decided to spend their lives with. Who or whom?

  52. Lina hesham says:

    Which one is correct? I would really want to make you proud of whom you built. Or I would really want to make you proud of who you built.

    • Whom would be the correct choice as it is the object of the preposition of in your sentence. However, while grammatically correct, I would really want to make you proud of whom you built is an unusual sentence. If the subject of the sentence is addressing a parent or guardian, we might say I want to make you proud of whom [OR the person] you raised.

  53. hiba says:

    Concerning the quiz, in the second sentence using ”whom” is more logical because who will be appointed (him / her).

  54. Manish says:

    Please vote for the member who/whom you believe has done the most for our village.

  55. SpaceMagic says:

    First I love your work, endeavouring to save the language from degrading is a magnificent undertaking and I adore your dedication. Now I have a question regarding the usage of who/whom in the following sentences:
    1. “Tell me who do you want to be” – here we use “who” because the answer is of course: “I want to be he.”
    2. “Tell me whom do you want me to be” – here I would argue the sentence is correct because in this case, the answer would be: “you want me to be him”. The copula equates an object with an object. (Rare case indeed).
    I would be glad to hear your thoughts on the second sentence.

    • says:

      Who is correct in both sentences. In your second sentence, “who” is the object of the infinitive phrase “to be.” In this construct, “who” remains in the subjective case because “to be” is a linking (intransitive) verb. If on the other hand the infinitive phrase included a transitive verb (one that takes a direct object), the proper form would be whom: “Tell me whom do you want me to choose.” For more information, you can refer to our our post I Subject, Your Honor.

      • SpaceMagic says:

        Well, that is unexpected. If you could I would like a more in-depth explanation. I know that the copula only equates things and doesn’t have a meaning of its own, so these sentences are all correct:
        1. I want to be he.
        2. I want him to be *me*.
        3. If a man were to be I, that would be…
        4. They wish the winner to be *him* who…
        5. Its being he really surprises us.
        6. It is not easy being I.
        7. You can be whomever you like.
        My point is that when there is an object on the left side the copula should be in the objective case as well. If the reason for “who” in “be whoever you want” is that that the answer is “I want to be he,” then we reason that “whom do you want me to be” should be correct as well because the answer would be “you want me to be him.” I don’t think “to be” connects with the subject “you,” but only with objects.
        You wrote “who” will remain in the subjective case since it is a linking verb, but that is my point, the linking verb connects to the object and not the subject in this case. In the same vein you would ask “whom do you want it to be,” “whom you do wish me to be,” and so on.

        • says:

          From our perspective, analyzing the copula construction too closely can potentially overcomplicate arriving at the proper grammar. Arriving at the correct case for pronouns can be achieved more efficiently by assessing the grammatical role of each word in its part of the sentence.

          e.g., I (subject) want (verb) him (direct object) to be (infinitive phrase with a linking verb) I (subjective case following the linking verb be).

          At the same time, we acknowledge that “…to be me…” is more colloquial and perhaps more widely accepted. While not technically precise, it sounds better to the native ear.

          • SpaceMagic says:

            “While not technically precise, it sounds better to the native ear.”
            That is exactly my point, and what this answer fails to understand, with all due respect. When the copula connects an object with an object (e.g. let me be me), then the objective case is correct from the “perspective” point of view, not colloquially. Furthermore, the site says it itself in one of its posts, and I quote,

            “Further, likening “it had to have been we” to “I wanted she to be he” is a false comparison. “I wanted she to be he” is not only grating, it’s incorrect. In the sentence “I wanted her to be him,” her is in the object case because it’s the object of the verb wanted. And thus him must be in the object case to agree with the objective her.” –
            (“We the People, or…?”,

            Here is another source
            “A noun or a pronoun used as an attribute complement or a participle or an infinite is in the same case (Nom. or Obj.) as the word to which it relates as attribute.

            Examples.—Being an artist, he appreciated it. I proved it to be him.”

            I do endorse the usage of the subjective case in constructions such as ‘ It was I’ and ‘I am he’, after all, I am a perspectivist myself.

            • says:

              The points you raise concern colloquial context and nuance. Going strictly by parts of speech within their constructions, I want him to be I is accurate and justified.

              The context you present approaches case as apposition instead of as a subject or an object by sentence position and verb relation. In other words, putting I in the objective case because him is in the objective case would create a parallel reasoning that the pronouns are renaming each other as in a statement such as John is Joe. This does not have a formal grammatical principle behind it, but it can and does still have acceptance with the language because it is colloquial and because it simply sounds better.

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