Who vs. Whom – Usage, Rules and Examples (+ Printable Exercise)

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Pronouns are words that replace a noun. They stand in their stead to avoid repetitive wording and phrases. They are one of the first things English language learners learn to conjugate, but their general use can become confusing without practice.

Pronouns must be used in their correct form to keep your sentence structure grammatically correct, and two of the most confusing pronouns in the English language are who and whom.

This article explains the proper use of who and whom and their respected, related forms.

Who vs. Whom: What’s the Difference?

Who vs. Whom Usage Rules Examples Printable Exercise

Who and whom are pronouns used to indicate a question about a subject or object group. Pronouns are either nominative, objective or possessive in their use.

Who is used when it replaces the subject performing the action. Whom is used when it replaces the subject receiving the action.

For example:

  • Who will be chaperoning the party?

In this sentence, who replaces the specific person who is chaperoning the party.

  • You did not expect to see whom?

In this sentence, whom replaces the name of the person you did not expect to see.

Nominative and Subjective Pronouns

Nominative (or subjective) pronouns are the subject of either independent or dependent clauses.

Objective Pronouns

Objective pronouns are the recipient of action or are an object of a preposition.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns show possession of something else.

Use this chart to help you understand how who and whom (and the related whose) fits into these definitions.

Possessive use (whose) is rarely an issue, but we’ve included it here so you can see the additional use of the pronoun when related to ownership.


Who, whoever

Subject or predicate nominative

I, You, He, She, It, We, They, One


Whom, whomever

Direct object, the object of a verbal, or object of a preposition

You, Me, Him, Her, It, Us, Them, One


Whose, whosever

To show ownership

Your, Mine, Hers, His, Ours, Thiers

The Nominative Case Rules

Who vs. Whom Usage Rules Examples Printable Exercise 1

The nominative case is reserved for subjects and predicate nominatives. They perform the action of the sentence.

A predicate is part of a sentence or clause that contains a verb and also states something about the subject (for example, the dog is a beast. “Is a beast” is the predicate).

Rule #1

Use who or whoever for the subject of a verb.

For example:

  • Who is the person reading the instructions?
  • I know who had the best drawing and won the art award.
  • He chose whoever created the best original sketch.
  • I will accept help from whoever offers it.

Rule #2

Use who or whoever for a predicate nominative.

For example:

  • The culprit is who?
  • They do not know who the culprit is.
  • Who am I to you?
  • This is who I am to you.

The Objective Case Rules

The objective case of whom and whoever refers to direct objects of verbs, objects of verbals and objects of prepositions. They receive the action of the sentence.

A preposition is a word or group of words placed before the noun or pronoun to explain time, location, direction or spatial relationships.

Rule #1

Use whom and whomever for the direct object of a verb or the object of a verbal.

For example:

  • Whom did you expect to see?
  • Select whomever you want.

Rule #2

Use who or whomever for the object of a preposition.

For example:

  • From whom did you receive the message?
  • I spoke to the professor with whom we had eaten lunch.

Let’s Review

Use who and whom as a pronoun to indicate a subject or object group question. They serve as a nominative case (who) or an objective case (whom) within the sentence structure.

Who replaces the subject performing the action and is used with I, You, He, She, It, We, They and One. Whom replaces the subject receiving the action and is used with You, Me, Him, Her, It, Us, Them and One.

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