Posted by: Jack Henry | July 30, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Who or Whom?

Good morning, and happy Tuesday. We have covered the who vs. whom dilemma several times over the years, but it’s been a while, and Jan W. asked for a refresher. Jan gets what she wants. 😊

One reason we have so much trouble knowing when to use whom is because we rarely hear or see it. Most people just opt for who no matter what. And since we don’t often see or hear whom used correctly, we’re not sure when to use it. I’m telling you that so that you’ll understand that if this is a hard rule for you to figure out or remember, you are not alone. This one trips up many people.

The good news is that there is a trick that will usually help you determine when to use who and when to use whom: the they/them trick.

  • they = who
  • them = whom

You can remember that them stands in for whom, because them and whom sound similar.

This is how the trick works: when you’re faced with a sentence that includes who or whom, but you don’t know which one, put the sentence in question form to determine whether they or them makes more sense. If they makes more sense, use who (they = who). If them makes more sense, use whom (them = whom). Here are some examples:

  • I’d like to know who/whom wrote the email.

Question: Who/whom wrote the email?

Answer: They wrote the email.

The correct choice is who (they = who).

I’d like to know who wrote the email.

  • She is wondering who/whom to vote for.

Question: Who/whom should she vote for?

Answer: She should vote for them.

The correct answer is whom (them = whom).

She is wondering whom to vote for.

I hope that helps. If you want to test yourself, click this link and scroll down to take a quiz from Enjoy the rest of your day.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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