By request: When to use who vs. whom

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

This one has always given me trouble. My Mom and Grandmother were generally big on using good grammar, but for whatever reason, nobody in my family ever used the word “whom.”

My only point of reference has always been the phrase “For whom the bell tolls.” That says that “whom” is an object word, since it follows the word “for.”

But… it doesn’t always follow a preposition, so…?? I never was good at diagraming sentences, and when sentences are inverted, I do have trouble deciding which is an object word.grammar book

For instance – if you answer the phone and the callers says “Who is this?” it’s rude, but proper. If you answer “Who did you wish to speak with,” it’s not proper. It should be whom, because you’re really saying “You wish to speak with whom?”

But since I didn’t hear it growing up, it still sounds wrong to me.

Kathy Streib asked me to write about this, so naturally I went to Grammar Girl to see if she could give an explanation that would make sense for all of us.

Naturally, Grammar Girl has a quick and easy trick. (I love grammar tricks.)

When you’re trying to choose between who and whom, think about the question and the answer. In the sentence “Whom did you wish to speak with?” The answer could be "him" but it would not be "He."

You’d say “I wish to speak with him.”

Hardly anyone would say “I wish to speak with he.”

(Never mind that this would not make sense over the phone. or if the caller wanted to speak with a woman. Just focus on the answer being either he or him.)

It make more sense with questions such as "Whom should we ask to serve on the committee?"

Her trick is that whom and him both end in m.

To read more, visit Grammar Girl at https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/who-versus-whom. Then take the quiz and see if you “got it.”

 

Grammar book courtesy of stuart miles at freedigitalphotos.net

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Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

It has always been a puzzler for me, Jeff Dowler, CRS. Perhaps if I'd studied harder when it came to diagramming sentences I'd have had it down.

Dec 07, 2019 02:18 PM #10
Rainmaker
145,216
Raymond Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA
Realtor

Funny you should post this today.  I was just trying to figure out when to use I versus me.  I think I have it, but maybe you could write a post about it and give me some more clues/hints.  Fifty six years old and I still would rather use "we" instead. 

Dec 07, 2019 04:39 PM #11
Rainmaker
83,083
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 702-574-8102

Marte Cliff Great who/whom tips, I will definitely be using these.  

Now here's one of the worst we hear a lot today.  What do you say to, "Me and Marte walked the dog."

Dec 07, 2019 05:35 PM #12
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Raymond Henson

"I" is a subject word -

"I worked an extra 5 hours today."

"Me" is an object word.

"That was too many hours for me!"

If you are the subject of the sentence, as in :"I think," "I I appreciate," "I take time to..." the word is "I."

If yu are the object, the word is "Me." An object is often preceded by a prepositon, such as for, to, or by.

"Would you copy this for me?"

Sometimes that preposition is understood, as in "Please send me the information."

What gets so many people messed up is when there's another person involved.

I had an elderly neighbor with a PhD who was extremely proud of his vocabulary. He always said "I've got to get home and fix dinner for Hazel and I."

It was like fingernails on a blackboard, but I never corrected him.

I'm sure he would never have said "I have to go fix dinner for I."

Take the other person out of teh sentence and see if it still sounds right. If it doesn't, you've made the wrong choice.

Dec 07, 2019 07:29 PM #13
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kris Collis, Associate Broker I say it makes me cringe. As I just told Raymond, "me" is an object word.

You might hear a small child say "Me want a cookie," but if that child has a mother with any sense, she'll correct that usage.

I went to high school here in a town where grammar has never been a priority - for the students OR the teachers. Other kids were always saying things like "Me and Joe are going to the movies."

The way they said it, it always came out sounding like "Mean Joe ..." So I always asked why they wanted to go with Joe if he was so mean. I got a LOT of blank stares.

I know - what a snob.

Dec 07, 2019 07:42 PM #14
Rainmaker
5,180,069
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning, Marte Cliff who is the subjective case ( the subject of the sentence)....whom is the objective (object of the preposition)....

Dec 08, 2019 03:31 AM #15
Rainer
546,345
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH
CRS

Great grammar lesson!

When you’re trying to choose between who and whom, think about the question and the answer. In the sentence “Whom did you wish to speak with?” The answer could be "him" but it would not be "He."

Dec 08, 2019 05:24 AM #16
Rainmaker
2,503,928
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

you never hear an OWL say....whom whom but who who.....I'm with the owl

Dec 08, 2019 06:37 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Barbara Todaro - Yes, but it can be confusing when the sentence is inverted.

Thanks Sham Reddy CRS.

Richie Alan Naggar - I'm with the owl too, but I do try to get it right when in written form.

Dec 08, 2019 08:42 AM #18
Ambassador
2,937,083
Anna Banana Kruchten Broker/Owner, CRB, CRS
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
602-380-4886

OMG my head is spinning this fine Sunday morning! Honestly it appears most people use who not whom....in daily conversation. Rarely have I ever heard 'whom should we invite' it's always 'who should we invite.  Wrong wrong wrong my whole life....oh well  Tomorrow is another day!

Dec 08, 2019 09:33 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS I'm with you on that! I can't recall anyone of my  acquaintance ever saying "Whom shall we invite" or "Whom do you wish to speak with?"

I am quite sure that if I used "whom" in conversation here, people would accuse me of trying to be a snob. They'd make fun of me like we used to laugh about our old neighbor using "big words" then spelling them and giving us the definition - because he was sure we wouldn't understand otherwise.

(He's the same one who said he had to go home "...to fix Dinner for Hazel and I.")

I shall stive to get it right in writing and not worry about it in speech.

Dec 08, 2019 01:12 PM #20
Ambassador
2,258,280
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

The first thing I thought of was...For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, Marte. It's like using whomever for example...I will talk to whomever I wish...not often has that word been in my vocabulary.

Dec 09, 2019 05:56 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can! I agree. I doubt if I have ever used the word whomever.

Dec 09, 2019 07:44 AM #22
Ambassador
847,649
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Solutions - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

That was the way I was always taught, Marte. If the answer would be "him," it's "whom." If the answer would be "he," it's who. This is one that catches up a lot of people. Thanks for the lesson!

Dec 09, 2019 09:23 AM #23
Rainmaker
1,401,861
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Marte,
The who vs whom issue is one I struggle with as well.  Thanks for sharing that easy grammar trick.  

On another issue, I still cringe that people can't figure out " I" vs "me" in a sentence. It is so prolific it makes me think people will think I'm wrong if I use the word "me" instead of "I" even when I know "me" is grammatically correct.  It's just not that hard. 

Dec 09, 2019 12:47 PM #24
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Mimi Foster You were way ahead of me... I don't think I was ever taught anything about who and whom or was ever around anyone who said whom.

Carol Williams - I agree. When small children said "Me want a cookie" parents used to correct them. Or at least the parents I knew did. How anyone can say "Carol gave I a present" is beyond me, but if there's another person in the sentence, they do it all the time. "Carol gave Jim and I a present." (shudder)

Just as widespread is the misuse of "myself." Even well-known speakers and authors say cringe-worthy things like "Myself and my associates..."

 

Dec 09, 2019 01:02 PM #25
Rainer
159,031
Robin Wells
RAW Chimney Sweep and Inspections - Penetanguishene, ON
Giving Peace Of Mind One Chimney At A Time

Thanks for post.   Good grammar and spelling are both lacking in the world today and especially so on social media.  Today people do not seem to care either way.  When one was taught grammer as a child it stands out so much when words are  used improperly.

Dec 10, 2019 05:11 AM #26
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Robin Wells I agree that it's lacking, but think those of us who wish to communicate still do care.

Dec 10, 2019 10:02 AM #27
Rainer
486,284
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I'm still confused so I'll avoid using who and whom and that should suffice, I hope, yet who should I tell or is it whom? 

Dec 10, 2019 10:31 PM #28
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kimo Jarrett I think it's whom, because the answer woud be "I should tell him."

I agree - unless you have spent your entire life fetting that one right, it isn't easy.

Dec 10, 2019 10:36 PM #29
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