General Writing and Grammar Help/Who or Whom?

Advertisement


Question
Hello,
This is bothering me so I thought I would ask. Should it be "It's sad when the people who..." or "It's sad when the people whom..."

It's sad when the people (who or whom) you would do anything for can't even help you with the simplest things without complaining or making excuses for why they don't have time.

Answer
Dear Emily:

PLEASE NOTE:  Emily, I did my best to answer your question, but it remains in my Allexperts inbox as unanswered, because you have not acknowledged receiving my message by completing the evaluation form.  Please do so as soon as you can, preferably by tomorrow, since that is the last day of this month.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Ted Nesbitt

*****************************************

  Hello,
This is bothering me so I thought I would ask. Should it be "It's sad when the people who..." or "It's sad when the people whom..."

It's sad when the people (who or whom) you would do anything for can't even help you with the simplest things without complaining or making excuses for why they don't have time.

**** Emily, I am happy that are are "bothered," because most people use the incorrect form and don't even care if they are right are wrong.  So, you have taken a positive step in just asking the question.  You get a gold star for that.

The easiest way to determine whether to use WHO or WHOM is to figure out the word's function in the sentence.  Quite often, a simple rearrangement of the words is enough.

Let's look at your example:  "you would do anything for" -- The word FOR is a preposition and ALL prepositions have objects.  What is the object of your preposition?  Rearrange the words:  It's sad when the people FOR ______ you would do anything can't even help . . . . . .   The word that goes in the blank is WHOM, because it is the object of the preposition FOR.

Here's another example:

WHO/WHOM should I invite to the party?

The most frequent problems with the who/whom dilemma occur in questions.  So, rearrange the question:  I should invite WHO/WHOM to the party.

I = subject
should invite = verb
WHOM = direct object of the verb
to the party = prepositional phrase

Anytime the OBJECTive case is needed, you must use WHOM.

The test of rearranging is simple.  If you use it enough, you will become accustomed to select the correct pronoun, be it WHO or WHOM.

Emily, I think you are new to me.  Please complete the evaluation form that is attached, but the numerical categories and the nomination as "volunteer of the month."

Thank you.

Ted Nesbitt

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.