Who vs Whom
Download Free PDF Worksheets
Click on the links below for the free PDF worksheets.
|Worksheet 1, Who vs. Whom, 4 Exercises|
|Worksheet 2, Who vs. Whom, 16 Exercises|
Worksheet 1 contains an explanation of the correct use of "who" and "whom," along with four exercises. Worksheet 2 contains 16 exercises, all with space for students to write out the complete sentence answer.
Thank you for visiting this site. If you do not find what you need, email me. If you need a specific worksheet, chances are that someone else will too.
Written by a writing teacher for writing teachers.
If you would like the answers to all the worksheets (total of 20 different topics), along with tips on teaching (or learning) every topic, get the answers (with teaching tips) to every worksheet, a total of 208 pages of grammar, usage, and writing style exercises, with answers and tips for teaching for 7.00. Click here.
If you would like a sample of what's in the ebook -- complete answers and tips -- please take a look at the Answer Key and Teaching Tips for Worksheet 4 of sentence fragments. It is six pages long. A link to the actual worksheet is also on the page. Remember, the worksheets are free; you can download them from the individual pages.
This issue, the correct use of "who" and "whom," is not without its controversy. Many native speakers and writers of English misuse the words "who" and "whom." For example, it is not unusual to hear an adult ask another, "Who are you inviting to your daughter's birthday party?" To most people, this usage appears normal. Most people really do not notice the confusion in these two words. Some avoid using "whom" altogether, except in the expression, "To whom it may concern." I've heard some say that the use of "whom" sounds too formal, too pretentious, so they use only the word "who." This is a mistake.
A discussion of using "who" and "whom" correctly should begin with examples and the concept of object case pronouns and subject case pronouns.
Example Using "Who": Elvis Presley, who was an American singing star, made several movies.
Example Using "Whom": Elvis Presley, whom the world regarded as a music superstar, made several movies.
Both of these examples are correct. In both sentences, the main idea is "Elvis Presley made several movies." The part between the commas describes Elvis Presley in some way. In the first example, the word "who" is the subject of the clause that describes Elvis. In the second example, the word "whom" is the direct object of the subject. In other words, we use the word "who" in the subject case, and we use the word "whom" in the object case.
In a formal sense, we use the word "who" when we fill the subject position in a sentence or clause, and we use the word "whom" when we fill the object position. The following is a short list of pronouns in the subject case and the object case:
- Subject Case: I, We, He, She, They, Who
- Object Case: Me, Us, Him, Her, Them, Whom
If we take the confusing "who" or "whom" clause and make it a simple sentence, we can determine which form to use. For example, "who was an American singing star" can be turned into the sentence "He was an American singing star." The word "He" is a pronoun in the subject case, so therefore, the subject pronoun "who" is correct in the original. The clause "whom the world regarded as a music superstar" can be turned into the sentence "The world regarded him as a music superstar." The word "him" is a pronoun in the object case, so therefore, the object pronoun "whom" is correct in the original.
Describing Someone and QuestionsMost cases of using "who" and "whom" fall into two general categories: describing someone or something in a sentence; or asking a question. If we take both general cases, we can perform an analysis of these cases as we did with the Elvis Presley sentences.
Describing Someone or Something in a Sentence
In these cases, we begin a sentence with the name of a person or an occupation; we describe the person or occupation; and then we say something about that person or occupation.
Example using "Who": Yuri Gagarin, who was the first man in outer space, died in 1968.
Example using "Whom": Yuri Gagarin, whom Valentina Goryacheva married in 1957, died in 1968.
In both sentences, the main idea is "Yuri Gagarin died in 1968." The parts between the commas describe Yuri Gagarin, and it is in these descriptions that the words "who" and "whom" are commonly misused.
Analysis of Correct Usage in Describing Someone
Who: The clause "who was the first man in outer space" describes Yuri Gagarin. No problem here. But why use the word "who"? Here's why. Take the descriptive clause and turn it into a simple sentence. We then have, "He was the first man in outer space." Notice that we use the word "he." The word "he" is a pronoun in the subject case. Because we substitute a pronoun in the subject case, we must use the corresponding form, "who" in the original sentence.
Whom: Let us perform a similar analysis for the "whom" example. We take the clause "whom Valentina Goryacheva married in 1957" and turn it into a simple sentence. We then have, "Valentina Goryacheva married him in 1957." The word "him" is a pronoun in the object case. Again, because we substitute a pronoun in the object case, we must use the corresponding form "whom" in the original.
Problems with the use of "who" and "whom" in asking questions usually relate to the word at the beginning of the question.
Example using "Who": Who is the president of the organization?
Example using "Whom": Whom will the committee ask to resign?
Analysis of Correct Usage When Asking Questions
In both cases, the procedure involves turning the question into a statement, in other words, answering the question.Who: Let us take the "Who" example and turn it into a statement: She is the president of the organization. In this sentence, the word "She" is a pronoun in the subject case. Indeed, it is the subject of the sentence. Because we substitute a pronoun in the subject case, we must use the corresponding form, "who" in the original question.
Whom: Take the "Whom" example and turn it into a statement: The committee will ask him to resign. In this sentence, the word "him" is a pronoun in the object case. Because we substitute a pronoun in the object case, we must use the corresponding form "whom" in the original question.
Use the Correct Form
English, like all languages, evolves over time. However, this evolution takes centuries. We may be going through an evolution that makes the form "whom" obsolete, but we are not there yet. In order to get good grades in your written compositions and to be well-regarded as a writer at work, it is important to master the correct use of "who" and "who." Those with whom you work expect no less.
Worksheet 1, 4 Exercises
Rewrite each sentence using who and whom correctly.
- (Who, Whom) did Mom invite to Marcela’s birthday party?
- Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for (who, whom) the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. (John Donne)
- (Who, Whom) invited Richard to be the representative for the entire class?
- Susan is the chef (who, whom) will create an exquisite menu for our ten-year reunion.
Worksheet 2, 16 Exercises
- (Who, Whom) attended the high school graduation ceremony with Rhonda?
- When the chef arrived at the restaurant, she asked (who, whom) had ordered only thirty pounds of chicken for the month of August.
- Robert Anderson is the running back (who, whom) the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted in the second round.
- After sensing a problem with the senior class, the principal demanded to know (who, whom) the class leaders had contacted to conduct the petition drive.
- William, (who, whom) removed the milk bottle from the refrigerator?
- Although the admiral wanted the commander to resign, the commander still wanted to know (who, whom) he had offended.
- Unlike the women on the reality show The Real Housewives of New Jersey, working moms often don’t know the names of (who, whom) takes care of their children after school.
- Reflecting on his career in entertainment, the actor thanked everyone (who, whom) had helped him succeed.
- Reflecting on his career in entertainment, the actor thanked everyone (who, whom) he had been associated with.
- As Deborah called the meeting to order, she admonished anyone (who, whom) had not attended the previous meeting to pay close attention. (
- Who, Whom) will decide whether the palm trees will be planted on the median or on the lawn itself?
- (Who, Whom) will the attorney call to testify?
- The teacher decided (who, whom) should be the moderator of the classroom panel.
- Before signing up for the class, the students wanted to know (who, whom) the teacher would be.
- Before signing up for the class, the students wanted to know (who, whom) would teach the class.
- Before signing up for the class, the students wanted to know (who, whom) the class would be taught by.
Links for Using Who and Whom Correctly
Web resources for using who and whom corrctly are not really very thorough, but here they are, such as they are. These are the best I could find. If you find any better ones, please let me know. Thanks.