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What is the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’?

“Who” is used as the subject of a sentence, while “whom” is used as the object.

To put it another way, “who” is used when you are talking about the person doing an action, as in “Who is going to the park?” However, “whom” is used when you are talking about the person that the action is happening to, like “To whom did you give the present?”

So, you use “who” for the person doing something, and “whom” for the person who is receiving the action.

How do I know whether to use ‘who’ or ‘whom’?

A common trick to help work out whether to use ‘who’ or ‘whom’, is to replace the word with “he” or “she”, and to see if it still makes sense. If it does, use ‘who’. If not, try “him” or “her”, and if the sentence makes sense, use ‘whom’.

So, for example, imagine you were writing the following sentence:

“The postman gave the letter to who?”

You would like to check if that “who” should really be “whom”. So, replace the “who” with “she”, and see how it reads:

“The postman gave the letter to she?”

That doesn’t sound right. Let’s try it with “her”.

“The postman gave the letter to her?”

That sounds correct. So, we know the correct word to use there is whom:

“The postman gave the letter to whom?”

Using ‘who’ in a sentence | who sentence examples

  • Can you tell me who is coming to the party tonight?
  • I wonder who ate the last slice of pizza.
  • Do you know who won the game last night?

Using ‘whom’ in a sentence | whom sentence examples

  • To whom did you speak on the phone last night?
  • The artist to whom the painting belongs remains unknown.
  • The person with whom I spoke yesterday was very helpful.

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