Who or Whom and Whose Idea Were These Words Anyway?
Do you say who or whom? The interrogative pronoun, “who” can be a slippery master of disguise, tripping up English speakers, and ESL students of all skill levels. Let’s take a look at the various word forms and talk about the appropriate usage for each.
The Confusing English Words: Who or Whom And Whose orWho’s
Who or Whom
This is easily the most hotly contested of the, which who word debates.
Who–and whoever—are always in the subjective case meaning, they are always the subject of a verb.
Whom—and whomever—are always in the objective case meaning, always the object of a verb.
TIP: object pronouns can be used after prepositions
Who and whom are both interrogative and relative pronouns—as you may remember, relative pronouns introduce relative clauses.
This is Larry, who wrote “Larry’s List”.
who is the subject of the relative clause, it is the subjective, relative pronoun
Larry, to whom I owe many thanks, included me in “Larry’s List”.
whom is the object of the relative clause, it is an objective, relative pronoun
Who is Larry and with whom is Larry working?
who is the subject, it is the subjective, interrogative pronoun & whom is the object, it is the objective, interrogative pronoun
Larry is the student whom I put on the Yearbook committee.
whom is the object of the relative clause, it is the objective, relative pronoun
The trick for determining when to use either who or whom in a sentence is to see if you can substitute it with he/him or she/her.
Who would be he or she. Whom would be him or her.
This is Larry, he wrote “Larry’s List”.
Larry is the student—I put him on the Yearbook committee.
reword the clause to reflect that whom is used as the object
Whose or Who’s
The word, whose is the possessive form of the word who. It’s a possessive pronoun.
Who’s is a contraction of the words, who + is, or who + has.
These words sound the same—they’re homophones—so you will really care about getting them right when you’re writing J
The easiest way to tell if you’re using the correct form is to think of the whole of the contraction who’s: who is, and who has.
Whose car is parked there?
Who has car is parked there? NOPE
Who is car is parked there? NOPE
So, whose is correct! The car belongs to someone, you just don’t know who.
Who’s sitting in that parked car?
Who is sitting in that parked car? YEP
So, who’s is correct!
As an ESL student, you may sometimes think there are English language words or grammar like who/whom, that you’ll perfect at a more advanced level, but I think you should take a good long look at anything you stumble over. After all, when you learn to do something right, right from the start you OWN it.