Monday, April 13, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Who and Whom

When to use “who” and when to use “whom” is something I still have trouble with from time to time. Here are the traditional rules according to The Chicago Manual of Style: “Who” is a nominative pronoun used as the subject of a finite verb. For example, “it was Kathy who bough the bagels today.” “Who” is also used as a predicate nominative when it follows a linking verb, like with “that’s who.”

“Whom” is an objective pronoun that may appear as the object of a verb, like in “I learned nothing from the man whom I saw today.” I can also be used as the object of a preposition; “The woman to whom I owe my life.”

Today, the norm is to default to using “who” in most contexts. There are also those (myself included) who are insecure about their knowledge of the difference and tend to overuse “whom” when “who” would be correct. For more information, be sure to check out The Chicago Manual of Style online at

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