I basically know how do use who/whom. But I got confused in two sentences.

"Neither Liseli nor I know who/whom it was." If you took who would it say: "Who the person was who did it"?! Could whose work as well?

"Who/whom should I ask about this?" I would say whom, but I have read who so I am confused now.

Do you actually say whom when you speak/talk? Your is it just a formal thing which is used in writing?

Thanks in advance

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Comments  (Page 2) 
Thanks for the insights, CJ.

First, big thanks to everybody who has helped.


No, no, no!!! I avoid it at all costs. Americans, even the educated, will substitute "who" for "whom" almost everywhere except after a preposition, and everything possible is done to rephrase the sentence so that not even that eventuality occurs!

1) Ok I have some questions to that. You would say: "I like the professor who I met yesterday." You would not say (but write) "I like the professor whom I met yesterday." ??

2) "except after a preposition"

So, you, CJ, would say and write: "With whom are you going to the dance?" "By whom was the book written?" "Whom am I talking to?" etc.. Do I got you right here?

Kat: Thanks for the explanation, yes I am a German-speaking Swiss. Whenever we would say "dem, den, wem, wen" in German we use "whom" in English.


Another opinion, to add to your collection:

I never use "whom" in speech, except in parody; in written English, I use it after prepositions (by whom, for whom).

1)I am sorry, what do you mean with "except in parody"? Examples?

2)And do I get you right? Just when you write you use whom and even then just with prepositions.?

Isn't it interesting that the BrE-speakers say whom constantly (when necessary) and the AmE-speakers avoid it?

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Hello Swiss

1) "except in parody" – it's difficult to think of examples, as they usually spring out of the immediate context; but sometimes, for instance, for humorous effect, you might begin a question "To whom...?", "For whom...?", etc., in parody of a slightly old-fashioned kind of English.

2) Yes, that's right: I never use "whom" in spoken English, and in written English, I avoid it, except after prepositions (where it seems less obtrusive). If any other use of "whom" were required, I would rather recast my sentence, than whom-ify it.

I would tentatively say that very few of my fellow BrE speakers ever utter a "whom"; and those that do often utter it in the wrong place.

That said, now I'm starting to feel sorry for the unfortunate little monosyllable. I'll be whoming everywhere tomorrow...

Hey MrP

Thanks for the explanation.

"...very few of my fellow BrE speakers ever utter a "whom";..." So, it is not like that the BrE-speakers say "whom" more often than the AmE-speakers.

The most important principle touched upon in what I wrote is that of rephrasing to avoid the problem.

I would say and write: "I like the professor I met yesterday", "Who are you going to the dance with?", "Who was the book written by?", "Who am I talking to?", not the variants that you proposed! Emotion: smile

The same is true of everyone I know.

You will have to learn to get comfortable with putting the (question word) object of a preposition at the beginning of a question and the preposition itself at the end in order to speak authentic English!

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.

thank you. I want to learn authentic English, so it helps me a lot.

Have a nice day,


I believe the correct answer would be "whom"
Mix the sentance up a bit to work it into using he/she or him/her (and still making sense)
Just take the most important part, or subject of the sentance.
EX: I don't know if it was him/her (this would be the subsitute for whome)
Now try to use he/she with only the subject of the sentance:
I was unable to think of a correct sentance by using he/she.
So that would say "whom" is the correct answer
This is a trickier test, that I'm not fully confident with but I'll give it a try:
not knowing is the verb.
You also have an object and subject to identify.
"I" is the subject of the verb, and the person who you haven't a clue of is: would be the object (whom is the object, who is the subject so this test leads to using whom as well)

I can tell you right away that "whom" is the correct usage in the second question
EX: should I ask him/her (he/she does not work in a simple sentence)
"I" is the subject of the verb "asking"
meaning (person) is the object
The last trick is to say it out loud testing who/whom and choosing which sounds best.
WHOM is the correct answer, however chances are people will choose "who"
I'm in the United States of America, and I believe whom is far more used in Europe.
I wouldn't be surprised if a high school student used "who" when it should have been "whom" and DIDN'T get marked off a point.
I'm not sure how it works in Europe, but I know "whom" is basically fancy grammar in the states.
Some people will use whom when speaking, and far more likely to miss-use it than when using it for writing.

here's a great link
There is a difference in what is correct English and what you will hear sometimes.

Who is a subject pronoun while Whom is an object pronoun.

In your example, "neither Liseli nor I know whom it was" because It is the subject and Whom is functioning as the object even though it comes before the subject and verb.

Your second example is an example where usage has changed. Most people on the street will say "Who should I ask" although I is the subject, and it could be reordered as "I should ask whom about this?" Whom is correct but Who is what you will probably hear more often. Fewer and fewer people are using "whom" as a word.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
1. Neither L nor I know whom it was

— I would call "whom" incorrect, in this sentence; consider:

2. Who was it? [not "Whom was it?"]

(By the way, the object of "know" is not the relative pronoun; it is the entire phrase "who it was".)

Best wishes,