Improve your English: WHO or WHOM?


Hey, everyone. I'm Alex.

Thanks for clicking, and welcome to this lesson on "Who" vs. "Whom".

That's right, today we are going to look at one of the most commonly confused and asked

about subjects in the English language, not just by new English learners but native speakers

as well.

So, we're going to use some grammar terminology, but I'm also going to give you some examples

that will make it very clear what the difference between these two words is.

So, first I'm going to talk about how to use them in statements, and after I'm going to

show you how to use them with quantifiers, and at the end I'll look at some question

examples with these two.

So, let's start.

First: "who" and "whom".

These are relative pronouns.

Now, what this means is "who" is a subject relative pronoun, "whom" is an object relative pronoun.

What does this mean?

Well, this means that when you use "who" in a sentence to give more information about

something, you are using it to give more information about a subject.

When you use "whom", you're using it to give more information about the object of a sentence.

So let's look at some examples first with "who".

Number one: "I have an uncle who works for Apple."

Number two: "There's someone who is waiting for you."

Number three: "Tom, who's been working here forever, recently found a new job."

What do they all have in common?

Well, they all have a subject, a person who you're giving more information about.

So, I'm going to mark things up a little bit so you can see how this works.

"I have an uncle who works for Apple."

Who are you giving more information about in this sentence?

You are giving more information about your uncle.

So you have "who", and "who" relates to an uncle.

Now, this uncle is doing an action.

The uncle works for Apple.

So, if you have a subject, you're giving more information about the subject, and the subject

is doing an action after who, then you use "who".

All right?

"I have an uncle who works", he works for Apple.

Next: "There is someone who is waiting for you."

So we have "who".

Who does "who" relate to?

"Who" relates to "someone", a mystery person.

So there's someone who is waiting for you.

Yes, we are giving more information about someone, and the someone is doing an action.

So here they are waiting.

So I have someone...

There is someone who is waiting.

They are the ones who are doing the action.

Next: "Tom, who's been working here forever, recently found a new job."

So we have "who", I'm just going to mark "who's", "who has" been working.

And yes, we are talking about Tom.

And we are saying that Tom has been working here.

So if the subject of the sentence is doing the action here, then you need to use "who".

Next: "whom".

Three sentences.

One: "Ghandi is someone whom most people admire."

Two: "That's the guy whom she married."

Three: "My best friend, whom I've known for 10 years, is getting married."

So, what's the difference between these sentences and the sentences with "who"?


"Ghandi is someone whom most people admire."

Yes, the sentence is about Ghandi.

We are talking about Ghandi in this sentence.

But also important: Is Ghandi doing an action in this sentence or is he receiving an action

in this sentence?

Here we have: "Ghandi is someone whom most people admire."

The sentence is actually talking about the people who admire Ghandi.

The people are doing an action to Ghandi,

and Ghandi is receiving the action in this sentence.

So, here, and this is true in most cases, after "whom" you usually have someone who

does the action to someone else.

So: "Ghandi is someone whom most people admire."

Next: "That's the guy whom she married."

We see "whom".

Who does "whom" relate to?

Yes, we are talking about the guy, but the guy is receiving the action.

He's actually an object here, because she married him.

Now, I don't mean that the man is an object and the woman is the...

An object in many cases, so I don't mean any of that.

But grammatically, that's the guy whom she married.

The guy is receiving the action of marriage from her.

And finally: "My best friend, whom I have known for 10 years, is getting married."

Here we have "whom".

Who are we talking about?

Okay, my best friend, yeah.

But my best friend is receiving an action here.

I have known my best friend.


So here, I'm saying I have known my best friend.

I have known him or her.


So if this person that you want to talk about is receiving some kind of action, like:

"Ghandi is someone whom most people admire.",

"That's the guy whom she married.",

"My best friend, whom I've known for 10 years, is getting married."

If you have these cases you must use "whom".

A very easy trick, quick and easy to remember: In most cases, when you use "who" you're going

to use a verb after it.


So: "He's someone who works all the time.", "They are a couple who is very happy."

And "whom" most of the time you are going to have a pronoun, a person, someone's name

after it.

So: "He is someone whom many people respect."

Or: "She's someone whom I love."

Now, I say most cases because in the passive voice you could also say:

"Ghandi is someone whom is admired."

And obviously we're saying by many people in this situation.

Okay, I'm going to go to the next room and we're going to look at quantifiers with "who"

or "whom", and we're going to look at questions with "who" or "whom".

Come with me.

Oh, you guys are already here.


All right, so next we're going to talk about "who" and "whom" with quantifiers.

Now, don't let the word "quantifiers" scare you.

Quantifiers just mean words that talk about quantity, like "many"; or numbers like "one",

"two", "three", "four", "five"; or "some; or "most; or "20%".

It can be anything that involves numbers, and quantity, and size.


So, here I have two sentences.

First: "My students, most of whom are from Brazil, have a test today."

Next: "There are 20 people at the party, 16 of whom I know."

Now, here: "most of whom are from Brazil", "16 of whom I know",

these are actually adjective clauses that include quantifiers in them,

an expression of quantity.

And first thing I want to do is explain the formula to you.

So when you use this construction, you need your subject, you need a subject like:

"my students" or "20 people at the party".

So, after that you need quantifier.

For quantifier, I'm just going to put "q" plus "of" plus "whom" plus other info.

I'm just going to put "other info".

So it's always: "most of whom", "some of whom",

"three of whom", "two of whom", "30% of whom",

and you'll also notice I'm always saying: "whom", "whom", "whom", "whom".

This is one case where you always have to say "whom".


You cannot say: "Most of who".

It's always: "Most of whom", "three of whom", etc.

So, let's look at these one more time.

"My students, most of whom are from Brazil, have a test today."

They have a test today.

And next: "There are 20 people at the party, 16 of whom I know."

So I know 16 people at the party, and the party has 20 people.

So just remember when you have this construction you need to use "whom".

And there is actually a lesson on this on my engVid channel, so you can check that out,

too, if you want more detailed explanation.

And finally, questions.

Now, questions are tricky...

And all of this is tricky actually, but questions in particular because very few people, especially

native speakers use "whom" in a question form, most of the time because they don't know the rule.

And the rule is followed in the same way like I explained at the beginning where "who" is

subject relative, "whom" is object relative.

So, I have four questions.

Let's look at the first one.

"Who saw the accident?"

These are all correct, by the way.

There are no mistakes in these questions.

"Who saw the accident?"

You're asking a question about: Who saw?

Who did the action of seeing?

So here it's obvious you must use "who" because the who, let's say his name is Marcus, and

I say: "Marcus saw the accident. Marcus is the person who saw the accident."

He did the action, so in the question: Who did the action?

Who saw the accident?

Next: "Whom did she pick for the job?"

Now, here, we have to use "whom" because she, the boss, is picking them.


So if I say: "She picked Jack", and Jack is the person who got the job.

Okay, Jack is the one whom she picked.

She picked him.

So here, again, we don't know whom she picked.

She did the action to this person.

So: "Whom did she pick for the job?"

Next: "Do you know who won last night?"

So I'm watching a soccer game, I'm watching a hockey game, and you know, I watched it,

my friend did not watch it.

And he says: "Hey. You saw the game last night.

Do you know who won?"

So here, obviously, the team who won is the team who did the action of scoring and winning.

So we have to use "who".

And finally: "Do you know whom she was talking about?"

So she was talking about someone else.

We don't know who, and again, the correct way to say it is in this situation:

"whom she was talking about", because she is giving us more information.

We don't know whom she did the action of talking about to.

I'm sorry, that's very complex.

So, honestly, guys, in most cases most native speakers just say "who", especially in questions.

So if you say "who" and you're a new English learner, do not worry because almost no one

will know that you are making a mistake.

And even though it is technically a grammar mistake, it's so commonly used and accepted

that it's not really a mistake.

As a grammar teacher, I'm telling you that.

What's more important, the fact that you speak correct English or the fact that you speak

English that other people are using all around you and you want to interact with those people?

Both are important, correct English, but it's more important that you are using the English

that native speakers are using.


So that's a lot of information today, and I hope that I was able to erase some of your

doubts, some of your confusion about this very complex topic.

And if you want to test your understanding, and if you want to know for sure that you

know the difference between "who" and "whom", as always, you can check out the quiz on

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Til next time, thanks for clicking, and I will see you later.


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