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Who or whom?


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  • 4 weeks later...
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Please tell me which word is correct in the following sentence, who or whom?

Yesterday, I saw a familiar man Who/whom I thought was my old friend since at high school.

Can you tell me whether who or whom is the correct word to use here?

I would say the proper use would be who since your referring to a specific person.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think you use 'who' if the 'who' is referring to the person taking the action. "Who was talking to you?" (because 'who' was the one talking)

'Whom' then is used when you're referring to the person you're talking about. "Whom did you talk to?" (because you were talking to 'whom')

A trick you can use is to see if the answer would be 'he' or 'him'. If the answer is 'he', the question should be 'who'. "Who was that man on the bus?" "He was the man on the bus."

But if the answer is 'him', then the question would be 'whom'. "For whom tolls the bell?" "The bell tolls for him."

Do the 'who vs whom quiz': [link]

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I think you use 'who' if the 'who' is referring to the person taking the action. "Who was talking to you?" (because 'who' was the one talking)

'Whom' then is used when you're referring to the person you're talking about. "Whom did you talk to?" (because you were talking to 'whom')

A trick you can use is to see if the answer would be 'he' or 'him'. If the answer is 'he', the question should be 'who'. "Who was that man on the bus?" "He was the man on the bus."

But if the answer is 'him', then the question would be 'whom'. "For whom tolls the bell?" "The bell tolls for him."

Do the 'who vs whom quiz': [link]

Yes, you've got it.  Thanks also for the link. 

"Who" refers to the subject of the sentence which is the active one.

"Whom" refers to the object of the sentence and is the passive.

So we would say, "Who called us yesterday?"

And we would say, "Whom should we call tomorrow?"

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I believe this is an example of language change and evolution in progress. The original difference between "who" and "whom" is like the difference between "wer" and "wem" in German. "Who" is the performer or the giver while "whom" is the receiver.

"Who said that?" but "To whom did you say that?" In the first example, the one doing the saying is being asked about, while in the second example, the one being spoken to is the one that's being asked about.

In modern English, who and whom are now being merged and the differences are slowly collapsing especially in spoken English. Within a generation or two, even formal written English will likely no longer use "whom".

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A trick you can use is to see if the answer would be 'he' or 'him'. If the answer is 'he', the question should be 'who'. "Who was that man on the bus?" "He was the man on the bus."

But if the answer is 'him', then the question would be 'whom'. "For whom tolls the bell?" "The bell tolls for him."

Do the 'who vs whom quiz': [link]

Thanks. That was as close to a perfect answer as one can hope for.  :smile:

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I think you use 'who' if the 'who' is referring to the person taking the action. "Who was talking to you?" (because 'who' was the one talking)

'Whom' then is used when you're referring to the person you're talking about. "Whom did you talk to?" (because you were talking to 'whom')

A trick you can use is to see if the answer would be 'he' or 'him'. If the answer is 'he', the question should be 'who'. "Who was that man on the bus?" "He was the man on the bus."

But if the answer is 'him', then the question would be 'whom'. "For whom tolls the bell?" "The bell tolls for him."

Do the 'who vs whom quiz': [link]

Thanks for the clarification. It helped me out in differentiating between these two words.

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The use of who and whom has been pretty confusing for me as well. Back in the day I made mistakes all the time in the usage of these words. Through the time and experience, I have learned the techniques of English Grammar and now I am confident about using perfect grammar.

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