The dreaded who and whom. Who uses these? :)

Let’s see if we can differentiate one from the other.

Who is a pronoun, which means it replaces a noun. That noun must be the subject–the one doing the action.
Whom–also a pronoun–replaces the object. The object is the one that receives the action of the verb.

For example:

Tony likes Susan. Who likes Susan? (Answer: Tony, the one doing the liking.) Who do you think likes Susan? I don’t care who you think likes Susan. (NOTE: In these sentences, note that the verb likes is done by Tony, the who in these sentences.)

Tony likes Susan. Whom does Tony like? (Answer: Susan, the object) Whom do you think Tony likes? I don’t care whom Tony likes.

Michael shared his ice-cream with Cathy, who was seated beside him. NOTE: Cathy is the subject of the verb seated.

After every preposition, the pronoun is always whom. Why? Because a subject does not follow a preposition; a subject is often not found a prepositional phrase. Examples of prepositions are on, in, at, for, from, to, into, onto, through, with, without, by, over, beyond, under, as, etc.


I gave the pencil to Maxine. To whom did I give the pencil?
With whom did Paz organize the party?
This is Congressman Martinez, for whom I voted.

In case all this gets confusing, just rewrite the who/whom sentence into a declarative sentence so we can see if what is missing is a subject (therefore, use who) or an object (therefore, use whom).

For example:

Who/Whom are you going to invite? (Rewrite this and pretend to answer the question. Say, “I am going to invite Robert.” If you notice in the answer, the verb is going to invite. Who is the one doing the action? It is the subject I. Who is the one being invited? It’s Robert. Therefore, this should be a whom. Whom are you going to invite? The object of the sentence is Robert, the one being invited.)

Who/Whom made the birthday cake? (Pretend to answer the question. Say, “Clarissa made the birthday cake.” In this answer, Clarissa is the one who made the cake–the subject of the sentence. Therefore the pronoun is who.)

Who/Whom did he blame for the accident? (Pretend to answer the question. Say, “He blamed Margaret for the accident.” The verb blamed is being done by he–the subject. The object of the blame is Margaret. Therefore, we replace Margaret with a whom.)

Whom do you trust? (Pretend to answer the question. Say, “I trust my teacher.” Teacher is the object, the receiver of the verb trust. So we replace teacher with whom.)

Call up Harry, to who/whom we owe P2,000. (After every preposition such as to, always use whom.)

This is my Son, with whom I am well-pleased. (With is a preposition, so use whom)

Photo credit: En Wikipedia


3 thoughts on “Who and whom

  1. Hi Ms. Janet :)

    I’m curious about John Mayer’s lyrics though; it says “you love who you love”.

    Haha. Sorry, I’m a bit bothered.

    • Hey, Ivon. Yup, if we follow traditional grammar rules, that line should be “you love whom you love.” But! It’s the lovely John Mayer, so we allow him his poetic license. The line “you love who you love” is like an equation. So balanced. you love = you love. Nice. :)

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