When to Use Who vs Whom

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It’s a grammar rule we all knew in school, yet mastering the use of who vs whom often continues to be one of the most frustrating parts about writing for professionals and writers alike. Even if you can explain when to use each of them correctly, knowing how to apply that knowledge and make sure your sentences are accurate can still take serious practice. In this blog post, we’ll look at practical strategies you can use when deciding between who vs whom so both your readers and English teachers will be impressed!

When to Use Who vs Whom

What is the Difference Between Who and Whom?

Understanding the difference between who and whom can be tricky, as these two words are both pronouns meant to refer to people. A helpful way to remember is that “who” is used in place of a subject in a sentence, while “whom” is used as an object. As an example, if you were asking a question like “Who should I call?” then the word you would use here is “who”.

On the other hand, consider another question such as “Whom should I call?” In this instance, you would use the word “whom”, as it is being used in place of an object. If remembering this feels difficult, don’t worry; just try to practice using these words in conversations and soon enough it will become second nature.

How to Use “Who”

Knowing how to use “who” correctly can make all the difference when expressing yourself in English. It’s important to take into account the role it plays and the differences between using a relative pronoun or an interrogative pronoun. A relative pronoun like “who” is used to connect related parts of a sentence, while an interrogative pronoun is used to ask questions.

  • For example, you wouldn’t say “Who is eating?” if you wanted to know who was already eating; instead, you would say “Who is going to eat?”

With practice and familiarity, determining when to use “who” will soon become second nature.

Examples of Using “Who” in a Sentence

Knowing the proper context for using “who” in a sentence can be tricky at times. Generally, “who” is used when you are referring to people, while “which” is used when talking about animals or things. Look at the following examples to get an idea of how this is done:

  • When asking a question such as “Who left their books on the desk?” you need to use “who” since it’s about people.
  • If you were asking about a particular book such as “Which book was left on the desk?” you would use “which” instead.

Trying to remember which one to use and when can be difficult, but having some examples can help clarify things!

How to Use “Whom”

Using “whom” correctly can seem daunting and difficult, but it’s not as complicated as it appears on the surface. The key rule to remember is that “whom” should always be used when referring to a person or persons directly.

  • For example, you would say: “To whom did she give the money?” rather than “Who did she give the money to?”

You can also use “whom” when a sentence begins with a preposition. However, if you’re uncertain whether to use “who” or “whom”, rest assured that it is okay to simply substitute “who” for both words in the sentence – if it works then you likely have made the correct choice. With practice using this simple rule, soon you’ll recognize proper usage of “whom” without needing to think about it at all.

Examples of Using “Whom” in a Sentence

Knowing when to use “whom” in a sentence can be a tricky business, but when done correctly, it adds a level of sophistication that can elevate any statement.

  • For example, if you’re trying to ask someone what they are bringing to an event, you might phrase it as “Who(m) are you bringing?”

The distinction is subtle but important- if the person isn’t acting the sentence (in this case, ‘bringing’), then you should use “whom.” Another useful tip is to think of it like this: if you used “who” instead of “whom,” would you still be able to retain the meaning of your statement? If not, then switch out ‘who’ with ‘whom’. If done correctly and consistently throughout your writing, using whom will become second nature!

When to Use “Who” vs “Whom” – Rules and Guidelines

Knowing when to use “who” or “whom” can be tricky, but with the right rules and guidelines, you can have a better understanding of the difference between them. When it comes to deciding between these two pronouns, the best way to see which one is appropriate is to imagine that you are replacing it in the sentence with “he” or “him.” Use “who” in place of the subject of a sentence, and “whom” when referring to an object.

  • For example, if you were writing about a person who you were going out with for dinner, you would use “who” because he or she is the subject of the action.

On the other hand, if your sentence instead had said something along the lines of “The person whom I am going out with for dinner is my best friend,” then “whom” would be correct because it refers to an object in this case. Mastering this rule can make all the difference between Improper English or writing that effectively conveys your thoughts!

Common Mistakes with Who vs Whom Usage

When speaking and writing in English, many people make common mistakes when using the words “who” and “whom.” This is due to not understanding when each should be used. In simplest terms, “who” should be used for subjects, meaning the people acting, while “whom” should be used for objects, being the people or things affected by action.

  • For example, saying “Who did you give the ball to?” is the correct usage of “who,” as this subject is acting.

However if you asked “Whom did you give the ball to?” this would be an incorrect way of using “whom.” Being able to properly distinguish between these two words can help take your writing and speaking up a notch!

Tips for Remembering the Difference between Who and Whom

Learning when to use who or whom correctly can be challenging, but with a few helpful tips, you can remember the difference between these two pronouns.

  • Start by understanding that ‘who’ always refers to the subject of a sentence, while ‘whom’ always refers to the object of a sentence.
  • To help make it easier to distinguish between them, replace ‘who’ or ‘whom’ with the appropriate form of the pronoun ‘he’, or with the corresponding Pronoun Chart (he/him). Who replaces he and whom replaces him.
  • If you find yourself getting stuck on which one to use and are unsure if the pronoun is acting as a subject or an object, simply rearrange your sentence so that it begins with either ‘he’ or ‘him.’ Doing this can give you an indication of which word to use in your sentence.

With these tips in mind, remembering when to use who and when to use whom shouldn’t be too hard after all!


The difference between who and whom can be tricky to understand. However, with some practice and a few helpful guidelines you can easily remember when to use each word in your writing. Who should be used for the FAQs

What is the difference between who and whom?

Who is used as the subject of a sentence, while whom is used as an object. Put simply, who performs the action and whom receives it.

How do I know when to use who or whom?

To determine which word to use, ask yourself if the pronoun functions as the subject (who) or object (whom) of a verb. If you can replace it with him/her/them, then use “whom”; if you can replace it with he/she/they, then use “who”.

Can you provide examples?

Here are some examples:

  • He was the one __ asked for help. (who)
  • The person __ they were talking to was the CEO. (whom)

What are some tips for remembering when to use who or whom?

Here are few helpful tips:

  • If you can replace the pronoun with “he” or “she,” use “who”; if it’s “him” or “her,” use “whom.”
  • For example: He is the person _ asked for help. In this sentence, you could substitute “he” for “who”, so “who” is the correct option.
  • Another tip is to think of a question: Who/whom did they talk to? In this example, you would use “whom”, since it is the object of the verb.

Are there any guidelines I should follow when using who or whom?

Yes! Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • When in doubt, rewrite the sentence so the subject (who) and object (whom) become more obvious: The CEO was the person ___ they were talking to. (whom)
  • If a phrase comes between “who” or “whom” and its verb, then consider whether that phrase changes the role of “who” or “whom”: He asked __ to help him. (whom)
  • Don’t use “who” or “whom” if you can avoid it: He asked the CEO for help. In this sentence, “the CEO” is sufficient and there is no need to add a pronoun.
  • Make sure the context of your sentence makes sense and that “who” or “whom” fits into it: The people __ he was talking about were his friends. (whom)

With these tips, guidelines, and examples in mind, you should be able to confidently decide when to use who vs whom in your writing!

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