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.
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