“Whom” is Not for Everyone

Just when it seemed that the object pronoun forms whom and whomever were quietly disappearing from use in American English, they appear to be creeping back as mistaken subject forms.

The pair who and whom corresponds to the pair he and him. The first word in each pair is a subject form, and the second is an object form.

He is my friend. (he=subject of verb “is”)
I like him. (him=object of verb “like”)
Give the book to him. (him=object of preposition “to”)

Who is that girl? (Who=subject of verb “is”)
Whoever remembers to set the clock back? (Whoever=subject of verb “remembers”)
Whom shall I ask to the prom? (Whom=object of verb “shall ask”)
To whom shall I address this letter? (whom=object of preposition “To”)
Send it to whomever you wish. (whomever=object of preposition “to”)

Because the words who and whom sound so similar, and because English grammar is so superficially taught in American schools, the word whom has largely been replaced by the word who as an object:

Who is that girl?
Who shall I ask to the prom?
Whoever left that banana peeling on the floor?
Do you know who I should address this letter to?
Give it to whoever you want to.

Using who as an object is now acceptable in standard U.S. English.

HOWEVER, using whom and whomever as subject forms is–how shall we say– extremely uninformed.

Here are some examples of “whom” and “whomever” used incorrectly on the web:

I have a vbscript setup to run every day, but i want it to run with the credentials of whomever is logged in at that time

An Open Letter To Whomever Is Placing Raisin Boxes On Top Of A Chain Link Fence At Cheviot Hills Park: Who Are You?

Whomever is entering docs into ADT should be held accountable.

I have a colleague, whom is on Sprint…

…my friend craig whom is currently undergoing [surgery]

How do I stop somebody whom is trying to remotely Hack into my machine!

my weimaraner, whom is 10 yrs old, started acting very lethargic

Bottom line: If you can’t tell what is wrong with the above examples, it would be wise to drop the words whom and whomever from your vocabulary altogether.

Beware of “whom”

2 Responses

  1. I just started sprinkling them back in instead of rearranging my entire sentence to avoid it due to the possibility of making an error and being smacked with a ruler out of the ether.

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