Grammar usage who versus whom has plagued people for years. Quite often it is only touched upon in grade school and in high school teachers may automatically assume that their students are more than familiar with the grammar usage who versus whom. It can be exceedingly tough to gauge when to use who and when to use whom. Below is a brief explanation of the correct grammar usage who versus whom.
First and foremost it should be said that both who and whom are both pronouns. That is right, the two words in question belong to the same “I-you-he-she-it-we-you-they” family. With this notion in mind it should be a bit easier to digest the proper usage of either word.
Let it be know that the word who refers to a subject and the word whom refers to the object of a clause. Not just an object but the object of a clause. So if you think in terms of people doing something then the who or the subject of a clause, is the person who is doing something – he or she is conducting some sort of action. Whereas the object of the clause or sentence occurs when the person is having something done to himself or herself.
This is quite possibly the toughest thing for a writer to remember and retain. There usually is no song sung to remember when to use the words who or whom. Well, the word whom is used when you are referring to the object of the sentence.
An easy way to remember when to use who and when to use whom is to think about the following rule. You can use the word "who" when the subject of a sentence would normally require a subject pronoun like he or she. You would only use the word "whom" when a sentence would need an object pronoun. An object pronoun are those pronouns that include the words he or she.
Whom is normally used in formal English only. The contemporary usage rules seems to favor using the word who in either situation (subject or object-wise). The contemporary usage rules of both who and whom are quite often the subject of debate on many college campuses. So much so that it would not be uncommon if a student learned one usage rule in high school and was taught something completely the opposite in college. There is still much discussion on many grammatical levels on the subtlties and nuances of when and how the who/whom usage rules apply and when such rules can be ignored.
Depending on the college (or university) and how strict or lenient the grammarians are within that college (or university) the grammatical rules surrounding who/whom may be strictly adhered to, or moderately bent to suit the regulations of the college. This also occurs in various job settings where there are manuals written on the grammar guidelines as observed by that particular company. This can be seen in many government agencies where standard English/grammar guidelines are tailored to meet the innate editorial needs of that particular government agency.
It seems as if the usage debate over the words who and whom will always be in tow, until new grammar guidelines are set forth for students and professionals alike. If you are currently experiencing confusion over when to use who and when to use whom, it is probably best to simply follow the current usage rule, that is, unless you are attending a college or university where the grammar rule has been altered, or if you are working in a position where the professional writing manual stipulates otherwise.
For more information on the proper and formal usage of the words who and whom you should consider consulting with a grammarian or do a bit of research on the internet. The Internet offers a plethora of teaching websites that can clarify when and how the two words should be used.