The English Language is riddled with complicated rules (which are not followed half the time), pronunciations, silent letters, and so on, which are the cause of common mistakes people make while writing and speaking. One of the confusions that are very much prominent amongst even native English speakers is the “who” vs. “whom” confusion. The usage of these words is often mistaken, with people using “who” in place of “whom”. Read to know the difference between Who I met or Whom I met?
If the subject of the answer to the question using either who or whom can be “he” or “she,” then the word to be used has to be “who”. On the other hand, if the subject can be “him” or “her,” then whom should be the word used in the question. Thus in this context, it would be “whom I met” as the answer can be “I met him/her”. To further understand the difference between the usage in other sentences, continue reading the article.
Difference Between Who and Whom
To further understand the difference between the usage of the two words, an example shall be employed.
- Example: Who/whom ate my fries?
We shall first answer the question with “she” and “her” to understand whether it is “who” or “whom”.
- Incorrect: She ate my fries
- Correct: She ate my fries
The correct usage would thus be “who ate my fries?”
Let’s look at another example for a better understanding.
- Example: Who/whom should I approach to get my doubts cleared?
- Incorrect: You should approach he to get your doubts cleared.
- Correct: you should approach him to get your doubts cleared.
From these examples, it can be understood that the word “who” is a subjective pronoun, while “whom” is an objective pronoun. This entails that “who” will always be used as a subject to a verb in a sentence, and “whom” will always function as the object of the sentence. In simple terms, “who” will be the doer of the action and “whom” shall receive the action.
However, there is an exception to this rule. In the event of a preposition being at the beginning of a sentence or a clause, “whom” should always be used. For example, “To whom did you send the package?”. “Who” cannot be used in the given example. Similarly, in the sentence “My father, for whom I am baking a cookie, is on his way home.” “who” cannot be used.
The difference between who and whom can thus be equated to the difference between “I and me”, “he and him”, “she and her,” etc. The difference between a subject and an object in a sentence needs to be understood.
The two words are also relative pronouns as they are used to connect two clauses. For example, “The woman who you met the other day is coming to dinner.” To sound formal, “whom” is used more often. On the occasion of being more informal, other words such as “who” and “that” can be substituted with “whom”.
When a “whom” is preceded by a quantifier such as “both of, all of, many of, few of, etc., the whom appears to be obligatory in that situation, for example, “The Centurian Stadium accommodates 75,800 spectators, all of whom are currently seated.” In such situations, the word “whom” becomes obligatory to place. No other word can be put in place of that “whom”.
Meet as the Verb in the Sentence
To address the central question at hand, when a person talks about meeting someone, the word “whom” has to be used. For example, “Gina is the woman whom I met at the park.” In this sentence, there is a requirement of an objective pronoun and not a subjective one, thus mandating the usage of whom. Another example of a sentence would be “I met the person whom I have to learn from. Once again, it must be understood that the usage is highly dependent on the nature of the sentence. The choice of whether to place a “who” or a “whom” would highly depend on if there is a need for a subjective pronoun or an objective pronoun.
The usage of “who” or “whom” is solely dependent on the type of sentence that is being written or said. The sentence structure is the sole determinant to which pronoun has to be used. “Whom” is an objective pronoun, while “who” is a subjective pronoun. A prudent person who wishes to speak English should understand these subtle differences and variations in the English language to have a polished look when they are either writing or saying something. It would be embarrassing to make such errors in your essays or in spoken interviews. It would give off an unprofessional impression and can substantially reduce your chances of being selected for the job entailing the interview.