Saturday, September 18, 2010

Who vs. Whom: The Gift of Good Grammar

Angela writes:
So excited! I think I found a grammar goof on the Kay Jewelers web site. Shouldn't the second question use whom instead of who?
You're right, Angela. Great hunting!

Where does Kay Jewelers go wrong? It uses a subject pronoun, who, instead of an object pronoun, whom.

Quick rules:
  • Use who if referring to the subject of a sentence. Who is shopping? Who took my book?
  • Use whom if referring to an object of a sentence. Whom are you shopping for? Whom do you like?

Try this:
  • Whom is often the object of a prepositional phrase. In the Kay Jeweler example, the preposition 'for' is the clue to use whom.
  • Answer the question in your mind. If you can answer using another object pronoun such as 'them' or 'her,' then use whom. Who/Whom are you shopping for? I'm shopping for them.

  • Whom are you shopping for today?
  • For whom are you shopping today?


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