Who vs Whom: Understanding the Difference
Have you ever found yourself struggling between using “who” or “whom” in a sentence? These two pronouns, often confused, serve different grammatical purposes. In this article, we will explore the differences between “who” and “whom” and provide you with examples and a comprehensive table to clarify their usage.
What is “Who”?
When used as a pronoun, “who” refers to the subject of a sentence. It is used to ask questions about people and to introduce relative clauses.
Examples of “Who”
- Who called me last night?
- The woman who won the award is my sister.
Uses of “Who”
“Who” is used in the following situations:
- Asking questions about people: Who is your best friend?
- Introducing a relative clause: The girl who lives next door is very friendly.
What is “Whom”?
“Whom” is an object pronoun used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition. It is often used in formal writing and is a more formal alternative to “who.”
Examples of “Whom”
- To whom did you give the letter?
- The doctor, whom I admire, was very knowledgeable.
Uses of “Whom”
“Whom” is used in the following situations:
- As the object of a verb: Whom did you see?
- As the object of a preposition: The book is for whom?
Differences between “Who” and “Whom”
|Subject Pronoun||Can be used as a subject of a sentence or clause.||Cannot be used as a subject; used as an object pronoun.|
|Informal vs Formal||Considered less formal in comparison.||Considered more formal in comparison.|
|Purpose||Used for asking questions about people or introducing relative clauses.||Used as the object of a verb or preposition.|
|Word Order||Usually, “who” comes before the verb.||Usually, “whom” comes after the verb or preposition.|
|Form||Subjective case pronoun.||Objective case pronoun.|
|Informality||Commonly used in spoken language and informal writing.||More common in formal writing and formal speech.|
|Clarity||Generally used when grammatically correct, regardless of clarity.||Used to achieve clarity in formal writing.|
|Verb Matching||Verb agrees with “who” in number and person.||Verb agrees with “whom” in number and person.|
|Position||Appears as the subject of a sentence or clause.||Appears as the object of a verb or preposition.|
|Frequency||Generally used more frequently than “whom.”||Used less frequently and often in specific contexts.|
In summary, “who” is used as a subject pronoun and is common in everyday language, while “whom” is used as an object pronoun and is more typical in formal contexts. Understanding the differences in usage and formality can help enhance clarity and precision in your writing.
People Also Ask
- When should I use “who”?
- When should I use “whom”?
- Is “whom” more formal than “who”?
- Can “who” and “whom” be used interchangeably?
- Do I always need to use “whom” in formal writing?
“Who” is used when referring to the subject of a sentence or asking questions about people.
“Whom” is used when referring to the object of a verb or preposition.
Yes, “whom” is considered more formal than “who.”
No, “who” and “whom” have different grammatical roles and cannot be used interchangeably.
No, while “whom” is more formal, its usage depends on the context and sentence structure.