Grammar Hammer: Who or Whom Wants a Cat Hug? Me-ow!

June is National Adopt-a-Cat Month, and today (Monday) is Hug Your Cat Day, so of course this is the purr-fect excuse to distract you with pictures of kitties while teaching you a grammar rule.

This week, we’ll learn how to use “who” vs. “whom,” and also discuss the relevancy of “whom” in general. Is “whom” fading into hiss-tory?

Rule 1: Use the subjective “who” when the pronoun is associated with an action or description. That is, when the subject is receiving the action.

Helpful tip: Test grammaticality by determining whether the answer to the question would take him or he.

Example 1: Quit lion — who wants a kitty hug?


Test 1: He wants a kitty hug!

Example 2: Who is the suavest kitty?

Test 1: He is the suavest kitty!

Rule 2: Use the objective “whom” when the pronoun is the target of someone else’s action.

Example 1: Whom have you upset?

Test 1: You upset him. He is paws-itively furr-ious!

Example 2: Whom did you awake?

Test 2: You awoke him. He is not feline early mornings.

Discussion: Should “whom” still be used in everyday communications, or is it old-fashioned and obsolete?

There is an increasing number of people who oppose use of the word “whom” in everyday language because it sounds “awkward” or “stuffy.”

I’d recommend always using “who” in everyday speech, but trying to use “whom” correctly in writing, particularly formal writing. Do you agree?

Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Grammar Hammer is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

image 1 via Imgur

image 2 via Flickr user swanky

image 3 via Flickr user mseckington

image 4 via Flickr user Bill Kuffrey

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