Free Grammar Help—Pronouns— Who or Whom?
In restrictive clauses, we use "who" and "whom" to restrict the meaning when referring to people (or personified animals). How can you tell whether to use who or whom? The key is whether or not it is being used as a subject. How can you tell if it's a subject? Try looking for another subject! Look to see who is doing the action.
In the following sentences all subjects are in red, the verbs in green, and objects are in blue. Watch how I need to use who and whom.
"He is the man with whom my daughter eloped. He is the man whom I am going to track down and murder. He is the man who caused me to lose my daughter."
In the first two sentences the subject of the clause is "my daughter" or "I" and the object of that clause is "the man." In sentence 1, my daughter is eloping. In sentence 2 I am going to track.
However, in the third sentence "the man" is the subject of the adjectival clause "who caused me to lose my daughter." He did the action. Notice that this clause has a verb as well. In fact, the difference between a clause and phrase is that a clause has a subject and verb in it; a phrase is simply any group of words working together.
Examples of sentences using whom
Notice that the one doing the action (the subject) is not "whom." The subject is in red.
The president, whom I shall not name, ruined the economy.
This letter is sent to whom it may concern.
The guy, whom I caught breaking into my house, was sentenced to six years in prison.
Fortunately my professor, whom I respect greatly, was granted tenure.
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Examples of sentences using who
I don't know who nominated me for a Nobel Prize.
The travellers who went to Belize had a good time.
Taxpayers who don't file on time are given a penalty.
Someone who vs someone whom
Remember to look to see who is doing the action. There is no single answer for which pronoun, who or whom, comes after someone.
He is someone whom I trust completely. (The verb is trust. The subject of the verb is "I".)
He is someone who will rob you blind. (The verb is rob. The subject of the verb is "who.")
Use whomever and whoever in the same way.
I am addressing this to whoever is interested.
I will speak to whomever I want.
Whoever answers the question will be rewarded.
Whomever I appoint to my cabinet will be honored.