Who vs. Whom

Difference Between Who and Whom

‘Who’ and ‘whom’ are two words that can create befuddle learners and native speakers alike. The wrong usage of these terms is so common among the English speakers that these mistakes have become accepted. A fundamental knowledge of English grammar will help eliminate the mistakes.

These two words are actually interrogative pronouns and are used to make statements and questions as well.

To understand the appropriate use of these two words the difference between subject and object should be understood. Here ‘who’ is a subject pronoun, ’whom’ is an object pronoun. ‘Who’ acts as a subject in the nominative case and ‘whom’ acts as an object in the accusative case.

Though sounds complicated, it is really simple. Usually a subject in a sentence is a person and an object is a material. For example in the sentence, ‘Genelia finished her homework’, Genelia is the subject and homework is the object. Now the question sentence of the same statement would be, ’who completed the homework?’ Here, ‘who’ replaces Genelia- the subject. Another form would be ‘By whom was the homework finished?’ Here the stress is on the object – i.e. homework.

Usually in a sentence a subject is the more important part of the sentence. Sentences where objects get more importance are very rare.

For example ’Mrs Hall sent John inside the house to get some stuff’. If we say that ‘who sent John inside the house?’, then we are concentrating on the subject, i.e. Mrs Hall. On the other hand if we are to say ’Whom did Mrs Hall send inside the house?’, then we are focusing on the object ’John’

If you understand the subjects and objects in a sentence, then the difference between who and whom will be easily understood.


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