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Who vs. Whom: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 24, 2023
"Who" is a subject pronoun, while "whom" is an object pronoun; "who" does an action, "whom" receives it.

Key Differences

"Who" is employed when referring to the subject of a sentence, whereas "whom" is appropriate when referencing the object of a verb or preposition.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023
If you're questioning the doer of an action, "who" is your go-to; if you're inquiring about the receiver of that action, opt for "whom".
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023
Think of "who" as the one taking action, akin to "he" or "she". Conversely, "whom" is like "him" or "her", the individual on the receiving end.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023
A handy trick to decide between "who" and "whom" involves rephrasing the sentence with "he" or "him". If "he" fits, use "who"; if "him" sounds right, "whom" is your choice.
Harlon Moss
Oct 24, 2023

Comparison Chart

Pronoun Type

Subject pronoun
Object pronoun
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023
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Example Query

Who did it?
To whom did you give it?
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Corresponding Pronouns

He, She
Him, Her
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Position in Sentence

Typically before a verb
Typically after a verb or preposition
Harlon Moss
Oct 24, 2023

Example with Preposition

Who is at the door?
With whom are you going?
Janet White
Oct 24, 2023

Who and Whom Definitions

Who

Used to inquire about identity.
Who is the author of this book?
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023
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Whom

Used to question about a specific individual as an object.
To whom did you give the letter?
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Who

A word that stands in for a subject.
Who is calling?
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

Whom

A word referring to the object of a verb or preposition.
Whom did you invite?
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

Who

A word indicating the performer of an action.
Who wants some ice cream?
Janet White
Oct 24, 2023

Whom

The correct choice when preceded by a preposition.
By whom was this painting made?
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Who

A query word for seeking a person's identity.
Who told you that secret?
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Whom

An interrogative pronoun inquiring about the receiver.
Whom are they blaming for the error?
Sara Rehman
Oct 24, 2023

Who

An interrogative for unknown subjects.
Who broke the vase?
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Whom

A formal version of 'who' when the latter acts as an object.
Whom shall I say is calling?
Aimie Carlson
Oct 24, 2023

Who

(interrogative) What person or people; which person or people; asks for the identity of someone; used in a direct or indirect question.
Who is that? (direct question)
I don't know who it is. (indirect question)
Sumera Saeed
Jan 28, 2016

Whom

(interrogative) What person or people; which person or people.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 28, 2016

FAQs

Can you give a simple trick to choose between "who" and "whom"?

Absolutely! If you can replace it with "he", use "who". If "him" fits, use "whom".
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Is "whom" still commonly used in everyday speech?

While grammatically correct, "whom" is often replaced with "who" in casual speech, but remains in formal writing.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

And when is "whom" appropriate?

Use "whom" when referring to the object of a verb or preposition.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 24, 2023

Why is there confusion between "who" and "whom"?

The distinction is subtle, and casual speech often blurs the lines, leading to confusion.
Janet White
Oct 24, 2023

When should I use "who" in a sentence?

Use "who" when referring to the subject or the doer of the action in the sentence.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Can I start a question with "whom"?

Yes, especially when it's the object of a verb or preposition, like "Whom did you see?"
Janet White
Oct 24, 2023

Is it always wrong to use "who" in place of "whom"?

In informal speech, many native speakers use "who" where "whom" is technically correct. However, in formal contexts, it's important to use them properly.
Janet White
Oct 24, 2023

Are there regions where "whom" is more prevalent?

Not necessarily, but the use of "whom" may be more common in formal settings regardless of region.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Can I use "whom" in statements, not just questions?

Yes, like in "She's the one whom I told."
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Is it wrong to say "Who did you give it to?"

While many native speakers say this in casual speech, the formal version would be "To whom did you give it?"
Janet White
Oct 24, 2023

Are there other words related to "who" and "whom"?

Yes, like "whose" which is a possessive form.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Can "whom" be the subject of a verb?

No, "whom" is an object pronoun and shouldn't act as the subject.
Sara Rehman
Oct 24, 2023

Is "whomever" the same as "whom"?

"Whomever" is to "whom" as "whoever" is to "who". They're more emphatic forms.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 24, 2023

Do all English style guides agree on "who" vs. "whom"?

While the basic rules are consistent, some style guides may have specific nuances or exceptions.
Harlon Moss
Oct 24, 2023

How long have "who" and "whom" been part of the English language?

Both words have Old English origins, making them centuries old.
Harlon Moss
Oct 24, 2023

Why do some people avoid using "whom"?

Some find "whom" old-fashioned or aren't sure how to use it correctly, so they stick to "who".
Harlon Moss
Oct 24, 2023

Do other languages have this "who" vs. "whom" distinction?

Yes, many languages have different forms for subject and object pronouns, though the rules can vary.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

In what scenarios is "whom" most frequently misused?

"Whom" is often misused after prepositions, like "for" or "with", where it's correct but replaced by "who" in casual speech.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023

Can I end a sentence with "whom"?

Yes, like in "I don't know whom."
Sara Rehman
Oct 24, 2023

Is there a trend regarding the use of "who" and "whom"?

"Whom" is becoming less common in everyday speech but still maintains its place in formal writing and contexts.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 24, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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