Whom

'Whom' is a WH-word, which is mostly used in question form. In this lesson, we will learn everything about this word.

How to Use "whom" in the English Grammar

'Whom' is the object form of 'who' and a widely-used vocabulary and we will learn three functions of 'whom' in this lesson:

1. 'Whom' as an Interrogative Pronoun

Use

Whom asks about the object or the object of a preposition.

  • Whom asks about the object; for example:

I met Sara. → Whom did you meet?

'Whom' asks about the object of 'meet.'

  • Whom is an object of a preposition. For example:

I wrote the letter to Mary. → To whom did you write the letter?

'Whom' is the object of the preposition 'to.'

Tip

In spoken English, the preposition comes at the end of the sentence. For example:

Whom did you write the letter to?

Position in a Sentence

Whom comes at the beginning of the interrogative sentence. In this case, inversion is required:

  1. Whom comes at the beginning of the interrogative sentence;
  2. We need an auxiliary or a semi-auxiliary verb that must be inverted with the subject. Remember that 'I' and 'we' changes to 'you.'
  3. The main verb comes at the end of the sentence.

For example:

Whom did you meet?

'Did' is used after 'whom' and it is inverted with 'you.'

Whom vs. Who

Who as an interrogative pronoun asks about the subject or the object, while whom only asks about the object. Compare:

Who did you talk to?

'Who' asks about the object.

Who goes there?

'Who' asks about the subject.

Whom did you talk to?

'Whom' asks about the object.

2. 'Whom' as a Nominal Relative Pronoun

Use

Whom as a nominal relative pronoun is used to connect the relative clause to the independent clause. The relative clause introduced by whom is nominal because it acts like an object, subject, or complement. For example:

I don't know whom you saw.

'Whom you saw' is the object for 'know.'

Whom I met yesterday is very important.

It is whom you were looking for.

'Whom you were looking for' is the complement of 'is.'

Position in a Sentence

Whom as a nominal relative pronoun always marks a nominal relative clause.

I don't know whom you saw.

'Whom you saw' is a nominal relative clause because it acts as an object.

Whom I met yesterday is very important.

3. 'Whom' as a Relative Pronoun

Use

Whom as a relative pronoun is used to describe the preceding noun or noun phrase. It introduces the adjectival relative clause that acts as an adjective for the preceding noun. For example:

I don't know the man whom you saw.

'The man whom you saw' is an adjective for 'the man.'

Position in a Sentence

Whom always comes at the beginning of the adjective clause.

I don't know the man whom you saw.

'Whom you saw' is introduced by 'whom.'

Do you love the boy whom you met?

Prepositions & Whom

Prepositions are normally used before whom, but in spoken English, prepositions can also be used after whom.

I don't know the man to whom I talked.

This sentence in spoken English is 'I don't know the man whom I talked to.'

I don't know whom you work with.

'With' comes at the end of the sentence in spoken English.

There are several people in the club, of whom I only know Jess and Rick.

Punctuation & Whom

Whom like 'who' can be used with restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. If the adjective clause cannot be omitted, it is restrictive and needs no comma. Like:

I don't know the man whom you saw.

'Whom you saw' is restrictive and cannot be left out.

There are several people in the club, of whom I only know Jess and Rick.

A non-restrictive clause

Many employees, whom I don't know very well, seem to be angry with the boss.

The adjective clause introduced by 'whom' can be left out.

Determiners & Whom

These determiners are used with whom in this formula:

determiners + of + whom

Such determiners are as follows:

  • Quantifiers: many, both, all, and no
  • Distributive determiners: each and any
  • Cardinal Numbers: one, two, …

For example:

I talked to my parents about that, both of whom agreed with me.

I met my colleagues, two of whom were proud of their position.

Remember that in this case, adjective clauses are non-restrictive and start with a comma.
The adjective clause doesn’t take subjects because 'determiner + of + whom' replaces the subject pronoun.

Whom vs. Whose

Whom is objective and refers only to people, but whose is possessive and refers to both people and things. Compare:

I love a man, whom I met at work.

'Whom' refers to the object 'a man.'

I met a man, whose eyes were blue.

'Whose' shows possession between 'a man' and 'eyes.'

I bought a chair, whose legs were blue.

'Whose' can be used with things too.

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