There are some problems in life and language which seem to be eternal. One such problem that places us in the spot constantly is the usage of ‘who’ and ‘whom’. It’s never easy to decide when to use who or whom. To ease this situation for you, we bring to you this post where we enumerate the simple methods by which you can decide among these two Grammar Monsters.
First things first: What is the subject of the sentence? The subject of the sentence is the one who is being talked about (see how ‘who’ is used in this sentence to refer to the subject). For example: Ram is playing cricket. The subject of this sentence is ‘Ram’ as he is the one who is carrying out the activity.
Now let’s put the same sentence this way: ‘Cricket is being played by Ram’. What is the subject of the sentence now? It’s ‘Cricket’. How do we decide the subject? Simple: we identify the verb and see who is carrying out this ‘verb’, ‘the action in the sentence’. In the first sentence, the very ‘is playing’ and in the second, ‘is being played’ acts as the verb. The first sentence has Ram as the doer of the verb and the second has cricket as the doer.
This small discussion brings us to rule one for making the correct choice between ‘who’ and ‘whom’:
If the pronoun (who and whom are pronouns, hope you know that) required acts as the subject of the verb, use ‘WHO’ else we are left with only one choice ‘Whom’.
Who is used as the subject of a sentence, which indicates that the ‘person’ in focus is the one who is carrying out the action.
E.g. : Who is doing this? Answer will be he is doing this. So, according to the meaning who is a subject pronoun.
Whom: It is used as the object of a verb, which indicates a person to ‘whom’ something has happened. E.g. whom do you love? Answer will be I love him. So, according to the definition, ‘whom’ is an object pronoun, that is the person is receiving the action.
See these two examples:
1) Whom made this dish?
2) Who are you going to summon for this?
In sentence one, the correct usage should be who.
In sentence two, even if the sentence sounds right, it should be whom, because the person you are calling is receiving the action of being called.
Take the exercise below to make the above concept clearer:
- ______ are you ?
- ______ has my pen?
- ______ will be cleaning the place?
- To ______ is this letter being addressed?
- ______ have you called for this repair?
- ______ are you going to call?
This completes ‘RULE 1’ for using ‘who and whom’.
We will be following this post with another couple of ones on the same topic that would complete all the rules with regards to this peeving issue. Practice with the above information till then.