Saturday, July 24, 2004

Having trouble with who vs. whom?

The Immigration Daily has a lesson, better written than most, on telling the two apart, including many examples and a quiz.

It also shares the rule most of us use:
If you can substitute him, then use whom; if you can substitute he, then use who.

Consider this statement: The salesperson whom you requested is away. (You requested him, so use whom.) Note that whom is the object of the verb, not the subject, in the subordinate clause whom you requested. Let's change the sentence slightly: This is the salesperson who won the award for most cars sold this month. Who is now the subject of the clause who won the award. Substitute he for who, and the sentence makes sense.

5 Comments:

At 2:42 PM, July 26, 2004, Blogger Peter Fisk said...

Mnemonic crutches are overrated. In the long run, it's easier, faster and more accurate to just learn the grammar.

 
At 11:48 AM, September 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! This has helped me alot. I am currently in an english class, and my book just confuses me. I could not seem to get this concept, so I decided to search the internet. Thanks again, Brandee

 
At 9:39 AM, March 18, 2008, Blogger deep said...

Hi Brandee,
What about this sentence?

I talked to the man who cleaned your house.

I talked to the man whom cleaned your house.

I think it should be who, because "who" is the subject of the subordinate clause. However, the reason I am confused is - if I were to talk, Who did I talk to? The answer is him - which should mean that the "who" should be "whom".

No? Am I just thinking too much about this? I have my GMATs coming up :).

 
At 9:41 AM, March 18, 2008, Blogger deep said...

Ooops I meant to say

However, the reason I am confused is - if I were to ASK - Who did I talk to?

The answer is him - which should mean that the "who" should be "whom".

No? Am I just thinking too much about this? I have my GMATs coming up :).

 
At 4:16 PM, October 27, 2008, Anonymous Alex said...

Deep - you're right, that's kind of a confusing one. The subordinate clause is acting as the object. However, within the clause itself, the answer to the question would be "He cleaned your house." Therefore, it would be "I talked to the man who cleaned your house." If the sentence read something like "I talked to the man ______ you showed how to clean houses," then the answer would be "I talked to the man whom you showed how to clean houses," since the subject of the subordinate clause is already there, "you." Also, if the sentence was a question, like "Whom did you talk to?" then you would use "whom."

 

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