Whom Should You Say?

No one, that’s who! Maybe it sounds correct because you can picture someone prim and proper uttering these words, but to say “whom shall I say is calling” is grammatically incorrect. Although I did a post last year about who and whom, since I struggle with this, I’m sure others do to. I have to run through some mental gymnastics on occasion to remind myself when to use who and whom.

It’s fairly straightforward. Who is for subjects and whom  is for objects. You can replace who with a subject like I, you, or he. And you can replace whom with objective pronouns like me and him. Here are some correct examples for reference:

  • Who made the birthday cake?
  • Who is in the kitchen?
  • Who is going to do the dishes?
  • Whom are you going to invite?
  • Whom did he blame for the accident?
  • Whom did he hire to do the job?
  • He doesn’t know who the boss is
  • She doesn’t care whom you invite
  • The man who called you is coming (simplify to “he is coming”)
  • You saw the woman whom you had spoken to (more succinct to leave out the whom)

More often than not, writers hypercorrect and use whom when they should just use who. Sometimes, though, it’s just simpler and easier to rewrite.

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  1. “The man who you called is coming.” simplifies to two pieces:
    “The man is coming.” — complete sentence
    “who you called” — a separate phrase, which can be rephrased as follows:
    “You called Me.” (not “I”)
    “You called hiM.” (not “he”)
    “You called theM.” (not “they”)
    “You called whoM.” (not “who”)

    Note the letter “M” in each of these. These “M” words all travel together in a pack. The correct sentence is:
    “The man whoM you called is coming.”

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