I used to work at a PR agency, and I once gave a grammar workshop to all our employees. When I got to the “who vs. whom” part of the presentation and tried to explain the two using parts of speech, one of the women in the room gave me a blank stare and said, “I will never understand parts of speech. Can you please just tell me when to use who and when to use whom so I can just memorize it?”
Nearly everyone in the room nodded along, eager to understand something that clearly had them mystified.
So with that in mind, here you go, plain and simple:
1. If you can classify the person/people you’re discussing as HE, SHE, or THEY, use WHO or WHOEVER:
- Example A: If you could say, “SHE answers the phone first,” the correct usage would be “WHOEVER answers the phone first gets a free copy of that song.”
- Example B: If you could say, “HE runs faster than everyone else,” the correct usage would be “The person WHO runs faster than everyone else wins.”
2. If you can classify the person/people you’re discussing as HER, HIM, or THEM, use WHOM or WHOMEVER:
- Example A: If you could say, “Math is hard for HER,” the correct usage would be, “She is someone for WHOM math is hard.”
- Example B: If you could say, “You want HIM to have the phone,” the correct usage would be, “Give the phone to WHOMEVER you want to have it.”
I hope this helps those of you who have trouble with parts of speech. Whoever still has questions, feel free to discuss in the comments or send me a note.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2012 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.