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Who and Whom

Richard SpeightsWho and whom are subject pronoun and object pronoun, respectively.

A sentence has a subject, verb, and predicate. Such as, “I have flown.” “I” is the subject, “have” is the verb, and “flown” is the object. In an interrogative (a question), one might ask, “Who has flown?” “Who” is the subject, “has” is the verb, and “flown” the object.

            Memory Technique: answer the question

 “I” is a subject. “Who” is a subject. Therefore, "I" and "who" are both used the same.

Who has flown?
I have flown.

The object of the sentence is the thing to which the action of the sentence is transferred by the verb. “Whom” is an object pronoun. Therefore, “You gave the ball to whom?” “You” is the subject, “gave" is the verb, and “whom” is the object, the thing to which the ball was given.

            Memory Technique: answer the question

 “Him” is an object. "Whom" is an object. Therefore, "him" and "whom" are both used the same.

You gave the ball to whom?
I gave the ball to him.

 

Who gave the ball to whom?
I gave the ball to him.

More creatively: “To whom did you give the ball?” “I gave the ball to him.”

Even after all these years, I sometimes still use the above memory techniques to remind myself of the correct usage when speaking to whomever. Whenever you should wonder if the right word is “who” or “whom”, answer the question with “I” or “him”.

“Who is happy?” “I am happy.” 
“To whom are you talking?” “I am talking to him.” 
“You gave the ball to whom?” “I gave the ball to him,” and so on.

Who is it?

"It is I, and my name is Malachi." 
"It is he, and his name is Lee."
"It is they, and they're here to stay."

Rich

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photo: self portrait

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