Learning English grammar the easy way – who and whom

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This blog post is part of a series of posts that aim to correct common English grammar mistakes.

When referring to other people in English we can use “Who” and “Whom”. Even the most experienced of native speakers get these two mixed up, but there are some simple rules to help you know which one to use. We use “Who” when we are talking about the subject of a sentence and we use “whom” when we are talking about the object of sentence. They work the same way as “she” and “her” and you can use this to figure out which word to use. So if you would say “Who painted the wall? She did.” you know you can use “who”. And if you say “To whom does this book belong? It belongs to her” so you know you can use “Whom”.

Often people use “that” in place of “who” and “whom” but it is incorrect English. “That” is only used when you are not talking about a person. For example –

“Whom shall I invite?” = correct

“Who shall I invite?” = incorrect

“It’s only Sarah that wanted to come” = incorrect

“It’s only Sarah who wanted to come” = correct

Connor FitzPatrick is the newest addition to the English Language Centre Brighton and has worked within English language schools since graduating from university. One of his many jobs is ensuring all grammar and language is correct and accurate across ELC’s websites and all its social streams.

Next Grammar mistake – “Less and Fewer” →