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When to use who vs whom: 3 Essential tips and easy examples

When to use who vs whom

In grammar, both who and whom are relative pronouns. Who and whom can be used to introduce a relative clause. Both who and whom are used to refer to people. Is there any difference between who and whom?

When to use who vs whom (whom vs who)

when to use who vs whom
When to use who vs whom

Who examples

  • That is the student who won the contest yesterday.
  • A doctor is a person who treats patients.
  • This is the person who designed online courses for the university.

When to use who

We use who as a subject of the verb of the relative clause. Notice, in the examples above, who comes before a verb (won, treats, designed, …). Who cannot be omitted.

  • That is the student won the contest yesterday. (incorrect)
  • A doctor is a person treats patients. (incorrect)
  • This is the person designed online courses for the university. (incorrect)

Who can be replaced by that.

  • She is the student that won the contest yesterday. (correct)
  • A doctor is a person that treats patients. (correct)
  • He is the professor that designed online courses for the university. (correct)

Whom examples

  • He is the student whom I competed with in yesterday’s contest.
  • She is the woman whom I met at my cousin’s party.
  • He is the minister whom we met at the conference.
  • He is the criminal whom the police arrested last night.

When to use whom

We use whom as an object of the verb of the relative clause. Whom can be omitted.

  • He is the student I competed with in a contest.
  • She is the woman I met at my cousin’s party.
  • He is the minister we met at the conference.
  • He is the criminal the police arrested last night.

Whom can be replaced by who or that.

Who or whom?

  • He is the student whom/who/that I competed with in a contest.
  • She is the woman whom/who/that I met at my cousin’s party.
  • He is the minister whom/who/that we met at the conference.
  • He is the criminal whom/who/that the police arrested last night.

Who and whom can be replaced by that

Learn more about relative pronouns here.

When to use who vs whom

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