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Commonly Confused Words: Who vs. Whom


Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at subject and object and subjective and objective pronouns. In most cases we know whether to use a subjective pronoun or an objective pronoun instinctively, but there are two pairs of pronouns that people often confuse: I vs. me and who vs. whom.

This week we’re going to look at when to use who and when to use whom. To learn about when to use I and when to use me, click here.

When should you use the word ‘who’?

You should use who when the word you are referring to the subject of a sentence. Learn more about subjects and verbs here.

Here is who used in some example sentences:

  • The two women, who have known each other since childhood, are turning eighty this year.
  • Who left the light on?

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word who.

When should you use the word ‘whom’?

You should use whom when the word you are referring to the object of a sentence. Learn more about objects and verbs here.

Here is whom used in some example sentences:

  • My aunt whom you met yesterday is visiting again next year.
  • To whom do you wish to speak?

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word whom.

Although it is correct to use whom in place of the objective pronoun in a sentence, most people deem this too formal when speaking and will use who instead.

For example:

  • My aunt who you met yesterday is visiting again next year.
  • Who would you like to speak to?

In writing, we recommend you use whom in these instances.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

Try and rephrase your sentence using other pronouns.

If your sentence works with he, she, or they, use who.

For example:

  • They have known each other since childhood.
  • She left the light on.

If your sentence works with him, her, or them, use whom.

For example:

  • You met her yesterday
  • Do you want to speak to him?

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?


22 May 2017
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