Posted by: Jack Henry | August 2, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Who, Whom, & The Who

Okay, so I don’t have any lyrics from the band today, but for those of you who clamored for information on who and whom, I have part of an article from the Grammar Girl website (, followed by an excerpt from Grammar Girl’s (Mignon Fogarty’s) new book: 101 Misused Words You’ll Never Confuse Again. I’ve also added a few examples from another resource.

From the website (emphasis mine):

So here we go. The words "who" and "whom" are both pronouns. I’ll have a quick and dirty trick for you later, but first I want you to actually understand the right way to use these words.

First, to know whether to use "who" or "whom," we need to talk about the difference between subjects and objects because you use "who" when you are referring to the subject of a clause and "whom" when you are referring to the object of a clause.

I know: subject and object sound pretty abstract, but it’s easy. If we think about people, the subject of the sentence is the person doing something, and the object of the sentence is having something done to them. If I step on Squiggly, then I am the subject and Squiggly is the object…

And continued from the book, Grammar Girl’s 101 Misused Words You’ll Never Confuse Again, by Mignon Fogarty:

If you choke when confronted with the terrifying choice between who and whom, I have a cure: the him-lick maneuver. Ask if you can hypothetically answer the question with the word him. If you can, the right choice is whom. Notice that him and whom both end with the letter m.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (It tolls for him.)

If you can’t answer with him (for example, if he is the word that fits), whom is the wrong answer—you must use who.

Who is your daddy? (He is your daddy.)

The trick works because whom refers to objects and him is any object pronoun, so him makes a good test case.

Here are some extra examples, from Try the “he/who, him/whom rule” on the first sentence of each set:

· Who/Whom wrote the letter?
He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.

· For who/whom should I vote?
Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct.

· We all know who/whom pulled that prank.
This sentence contains two clauses: We all know and who/whom pulled that prank. We are interested in the second clause because it contains the who/whom. He pulled that prank. Therefore, who is correct. (Are you starting to sound like a hooting owl yet?)

· We want to know on who/whom the prank was pulled.
This sentence contains two clauses: We want to know and the prank was pulled on who/whom. Again, we are interested in the second clause because it contains the who/whom. The prank was pulled on him. Therefore, whom is correct.

And if you are still befuddled, here is something to make you smile:

Graphic from:


  1. […] Hint: Don’t forget the “he/him” rule from August 2 ( […]

  2. […] KC: For some tips on who and whom, see this previous Editor’s Corner. […]

  3. Thanks for any other great post. The place else
    could anybody get that kind of information in such a perfect manner of writing?
    I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the look for such information.

  4. […] […]

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