by Kathleen Watson
Do you have difficulty when it comes to choosing who or whom in your writing?
Some think whom sounds stuffy and pretentious.
When did proper grammar become stuffy? I think that’s an excuse made by people who don’t know the difference.
Does anyone criticize Ernest Hemingway for using whom in the title of his famous novel For Whom The Bell Tolls?
Here are three guidelines to help you recognize whether to use who or whom:
- Who is the doer of the action.
Who was driving the car?
He was critical of people who didn’t support his decision.
The winner, no matter who she is, will wear the crown for a year.
2. Whom is the object, the person acted on, and it often is preceded by a preposition (at, in, for, from, of, to, with).
Did you speak to her? To whom did you speak?
Who gave you the check? From whom did you get the check?
Did you take a walk with her? With whom did you take a walk?
3. Consider these substitutions as shortcuts to helping you make the right choice:
he, she, they (subjects) = who
him, her, them (objects) = whom
Who was driving the car? He was driving the car.
You invited whom to dinner? You invited her to dinner.
For whom were members of the audience applauding? Members of the audience were applauding for them.
Do you have sentences that you question if who or whom is correct? Submit them here for a reply.