By Annette Rey
Grade school grammar classes were a drag and I owe that memory to the teacher who made it boring. She went too fast and made the rules sound like mysterious science. Though it is still very important to know the rules of using parts of speech correctly, there comes a time when brevity serves best.
And what better time for a quick tip than muddling through with the correct choice between who and whom?
First – three basics –
1) The subject of the sentence is the word (the item) the sentence is about. For instance:
- The boat was moored.
The sentence is talking about the boat. — Boat is the subject.
2) The verb of the sentence is the word describing action. Thus:
- moored is the verb, as it describes what the boat is doing.
3) Now we are going to add an object to the sentence, the end goal or position of the subject.
- The boat was moored at the dock. — Dock is the object.
What does this have to do with who and whom? This is so easy.
Use who when you are referring to the subject of the sentence.
- Who is going to the game?
- Who baked the cake?
- Who ran Carl’s underwear up the flagpole?
Use whom when you are referring to the object of your sentence.
- You are going out with whom? — Generally, we would say, “With whom are you going out?” In this case, I am speaking to you. You is the subject, so whom is the object.
- Mary is playing soccer with whom? — Mary is the subject, whom is the object.
- With whom is Mary playing soccer? — Mary is the subject, whom is the object.
I found a great site for help for writers to learn the basics you may have missed in grade school. It is: http://www.k12reader.com/
DO NOT be embarrassed to go to this site. All of us need to continue learning, especially writers. And if you follow my site, you know I sympathize with writers whose primary language is not English. So, nothing is too basic to teach or to learn.
The site has helpful, free downloads of worksheets for spelling, reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, writing and much more. Check it out.
I am adding this site to my “Go-to Options” list.