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Write the Right Word: Who and Whom

Some of you may remember vaguely that your English teacher tried to drill into you when to use “who” and when to use “whom.”

Technically, “who” is a pronoun that refers to people and animals with a name. It always is the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase. “Whom” is a used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition.

But you have a much easier way to decide which to use: Substitute “he” for “who” and “him” for “whom.” Here are some examples followed by how to run the “he/him” test on the sentence:

  • Who is there? (He is there.)
  • Whom do you wish to see? (I wish to see him.)
  • Marianne wondered with whom she would be partnered in the lab. (She wondered whether she would be partnered with him.)
  • John could select whomever he wanted to receive a share of the prize money. (John wanted to share the prize money with him.)
  • Give the ticket to who you think wants it. (You think he wants the ticket.)

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