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To continue our series on who, whom, whoever, and whomever, today we bring you the following Tom Stern article from September 2013.
Whom Abuse Is Rampant
Consider the humble pronoun. It seems that fewer and fewer Americans know
when to say “she” or “he” or “me”
instead of “her,” “him,” or “I.”
It used to be that little Gloria would run home and tell her mother,
“Me ’n’ Annie saw a walrus!” Whereupon her mom
would say, “ ‘Annie and I,’ dear.” Now, alas,
Gloria’s mother thinks “me ’n’ Annie” is just
So why is it that so many pronoun-challenged Americans are infatuated with whom? It’s a word that’s become exotic and mysterious,
and people say it when they want to sound authoritative, because even if
they’re misusing it, chances are their listeners won’t know.
Let’s get technical. The pronoun who is always subjective.
Use who wherever you would use the subjective pronouns I, he, she, we, or they. It is correct to
say Who wants to go? because we would say She wants to go or We want to go.
The pronoun whom is always an object. Use whom wherever
you would use the objective pronouns me, him,her, us, or them. It is not correct to sayWho did you choose? We would say Whom because you choose me or him or them.
A handy memory aid: who = he, whom = him.
Here is an all-too-common misuse of whom: He is a man whom I believe can do the job. The writer chose whom, thinking it was the object of believe. But look
what happens when we rearrange the sentence: He is a man whom can do the job, I believe. Obviously, the proper
word is who.
Compare that with He is a man who I admire. Because we would say I admire him, the sentence should read He is a man whom I admire.
The key to mastering whom comes down to knowing the difference
between a subject and an object.
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your comments or questions regarding today's (or any past) article through GrammarBook.com’s Grammar Blog
Identify either the type of subject or the correct verb in the following sentences:
1. Who/whom do you think will win the prize?
2. Who/whom do you think you’ll vote for?
3. She is someone who/whom I always counted on.
4. She is someone who/whom I always said could be counted on.
5. Who/whom are you going to believe?
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Lawrence "Yogi" Berra was a baseball Hall of Fame catcher who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball and was an All-Star 18 times. The following are quotes attributed to him, although, as he put it himself, "I never said most of the things I said."
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You can observe a lot by just watching.
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It's like déjà vu all over again.
Pop Quiz Answers
1. Who do you think will win the prize? (they will)
2. Whom do you think you’ll vote for? (for him)
3. She is someone whom I always counted on. (I counted on her)
4. She is someone who I always said could be counted on. (she could be counted on)
5. Whom are you going to believe? (you’re going to believe me)
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.