- In direct questions
- In wh- clauses, including indirect questions
- In defining relative clauses
- In non-defining relative clauses
In direct questions as direct object
- Whom do you love? / Who do you love?
- Whom did you first kiss? / Who did you first kiss?
- Whom were you meeting earlier? / Who were you meeting earlier?
- Whom have you seen recently? / Who have you seen recently?
In direct questions as indirect object and with prepositions
- To whom should I give this? / Who should I give this to?
- With whom did have your first kiss? / Who did you have your first kiss with?
- For whom did you buy this? / Who did you buy this for?
- About whom is this book? / Who is this book about?
- And by whom is it written? / And who is it written by?
- That is something up with which I will not put.
- That is something I will not put up with.
Indirect questions and wh- clauses - direct object
- She asked me who I had invited to the party
- I don't know who you know here, so I'll just introduce you to everyone.
Indirect questions and wh- clauses - prepositions
- He asked me who I had just been talking to.
- I wonder who you're thinking about.
Defining relative clauses - direct object
- That's the man who I saw earlier.
- That's the man that I saw earlier.
- That's the man I saw earlier.
Defining relative clauses - indirect object and with prepositions
- This is the gentleman (who/that) I was telling you about.
- There's the woman (who/that) I got the flowers from.
- Here's the person (who/that) I gave the book to.
- This is the gentleman about whom I was telling you.
- There's the woman from whom I got the flowers.
- Here's the person to whom I gave the book.
- This is the gentleman whom I was telling you about.
- There's the woman whom I got the flowers from.
- Here's the person whom I gave the book to.
- The hotel is a non-smoking zone. People for whom this is a problem should think seriously before reserving a room.
Non-defining relative clauses - direct object
- David Johnstone, who/whom I met while at university, was later to become a famous politician.
- Peter Jackson, who/whom I taught to ski, ended up a much better skier than me.
Non-defining relative clauses - prepositions.
- Clara Dickinson, who I wrote to you about, is coming to stay with us.
- Sandra Dickinson, who I bought that antiques book for, is no relation.
- about whom I wrote to you
- for whom I bought that antiques book
Non-defining relative clauses - quantifiers + of.
- The students, many of whom come from Spain, live with host families during their stay.
- The Spanish students, most of whom were here for the first time, seemed to especially enjoy themselves.
- Our host families, all of whom have teenage children themselves, provide a welcoming environment for the students
Can you sum all that up in one sentence, please. When do I use whom?
A short note on whomever and whomsoever
- You can invite whomever you like
- I'll give my money to whomsoever I choose.
A short note on the substitution rule – if it's him or her, it's whom.
- Do you know who/whom is coming to the party.
- The newspapers disagree as to who/whom they think might win the election.
- Give it to whoever/whomever needs it most.
- He or she is coming to the party.
- He or she might win the election.
- He or she needs it most.
What the TEFL books and dictionaries etc., say.
This use of who instead of whom is nothing new
The phenomenon of hypercorrection
But didn't Hemingway call his novel 'For whom the bell tolls'? So surely that must be the correct usage.The title of Hemingway's book 'For whom the bell tolls' comes from a short poem by English poet John Donne (1572 – 1631). The last three lines of the poem are:
- Therefore, send not to know
- For whom the bell tolls,
- It tolls for thee.
A little digression
- thou (subject)
- thee (object)
- thy (possessive adjective)
- thine (possessive pronoun)
- Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (good usage notes)
- Merriam-Webster (useful usage discussion)
- Merriam Webster - Ask the editor - YouTube video
- The Free Dictionary (useful usage notes)
- BBC Learning English
Whom links – the traditionalists (admittedly talking mainly about writing)
- The University of Kansas Professor Malcolm Gibson writes for journalists, and advocates the traditional approach - if it's him or her it must be whom. But he has a very good section on the importance of the main verb having a subject.
- Grammar Girl - Oh! You do disappoint me, Grammar Girl.