General Writing and Grammar Help/"who" vs "whom"

Advertisement


Question
Dear Johnathan,

Would you please help me with the following questions:

Can “who” be used as a predicate nominative?
Is it correct to say:    “You are who?”

Or, should “whom” be used as a predicate nominative?
Is it correct to say:    “You are whom?”

I am trying very hard to understand the use of “whom”.  I just want to make sure that "whom"  can be used as a predicate nominative  -   even though saying “You are whom?”  is probably not the best way to talk to most people as most people would say "Who are you?"

Thank you so much!!

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Hi Rich,

Sorry about the delay. Who/whom is one of the more challenging nuances to figure out. In the case of your specific question, it should be "you are who?". If you were to reverse the sentence "Who are you?" is the correct expression because the verb "to be" takes no object, so who is the correct word. Flipping the sentence around doesn't change that rule.


Here's some other things to keep in mind:

Substitute “he/him” or “she/her”: If it's either “he” or “she,” then it's “who;” if it's “him” or “her,” then it's “whom.”

Every verb with a tense in a sentence must have a subject. And that word is always in the nominative case, so it's “who.” For example: In this sentence, “I decided to vote for whoever called me first”:
     • “I” is the subject of “decided”
     • “he” (whoever) is the subject of the verb “called.”

In the sentence, “Give it to whoever deserves it”:([You] give it to whoever deserves it.)
     • “he” (whoever) is the subject of the verb “deserves.”
     This rule supersedes the first rule as it relates to “who” and “whom.”

I hope that helps!

Kind Regards,
-Johnathan  

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Johnathan Clayborn

Expertise

I can answer a broad range of questions about both academic and creative writing. I can answer questions about APA format, research and references, essay structure and more. I am particularly helpful in the areas of character development, storyline development, etc. and I can provide authors with an array of tools to help them organize their work.

Experience

I minored in English for my Bachelor's degree. I have also written several books and I run a small publishing company (before you ask, we're not accepting submissions at this time). I have written both fiction and non-fiction books and I have been published in newspapers and written articles for major internet websites.

Organizations
Alpha Chi, Psi Chi, Kappa Delta Pi, APA

Education/Credentials
MS, Educational Psychology, BS Psychology (English minor)

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.