Search Bunsnip.com

bunsnip (at) gmail (dot com)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To whom it may concern

I've written about this before, but seeing as how it is a particular pet peeve of mine, and how the internets still displays a need to learn this, I am mentioning it again.

There is a difference between the words who and whom. Namely,

Who is used to replace subject pronouns in sentences (I, we, you, he, she, it, they)
Whom is used to replace object pronouns in sentences (me, us, you, him, her, it, them)
I like to use the him/them test, since they both share the ending -m with whom. If you are trying to decide between who and whom, and you can grammatically replace your who/whom with him or them, then whom is appropriate. If you can't, then it isn't.

You don't say "I went to visit my friends, whom are very nice."

No! You don't say that! If you do say that, maybe you are confused because the who/whom of the second clause refers back to "friends" in the first clause, which is objective. You could replace "friends" with "them". I went to visit them. But the who/whom in question is in its own clause, and in that clause it takes on a subjective role. You wouldn't say "Them are very nice," but "They are very nice." So who is the appropriate choice.

Please take note of this very helpful test and use it. Or else I will come through the internets and beat you over the head with a shovel.

When in doubt, just use who, alright? It's ok to be wrong with who. Whom is kind of antiquated anyway, and I predict that one day it will leave our language altogether. But when you are wrong about whom, you just look like a wanker who is trying to be proper but doesn't know what the hell she's doing. Mkay?



In other news, for all you fellow voyeurs out there, today a Blog Share event is going on, where bloggers post anonymously on other blogs so that they can vent about something they'd never post on their own blogs under their own names. These posts are usually very juicy. Go here for a list of participating blogs.







Subscribe to Bunsnip

12 comments:

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Oh, don't get me started on stupid grammatical errors. They're vs. their. You're vs. your. It gets ugly in my world...

FrankandMary said...

Coming from a community college night school graduate: I know I've used whom wrong(hanging head in shame). I forget the ' on parents when it is appropriate, I use ie instead of....oh do I really need to go on? Will I be fined if I continue to comment here? ;-0
Oh, I also make up my own portmanteau words, and no one ever knows what I am talking about...
~Mary

3carnations said...

Who and whom are ones that I admittedly sometimes misuse. I'll try to do better. :)

tauns said...

You now have me scared that I used whom when it should have been who. Oh crap, I am pretty sure I am on your hit list!

Frank said...

Printed and pasted to my office wall. But I is me, and I have always been me, so is that who or whom? Just kidding. Hey, are you planning to cover adverbs or the use of the comma tomorrow??? I really wish I would have paid more attention in those classes. : )

Sra said...

Nilsa: I must admit that I get tripped up on the apostrophe laden pronouns as well. It's/its, your/you're. I know the difference, but my mind just tells me that apostrophes mean possessive, so I sometimes use the apostrophied pronouns for possessives, even though they are actually contractions. Damn exceptions to rules!

Mary: No, I don't grade people on comments like I do otherwise, so you are safe here ;) If you want an easy way to remember i.e. and e.g., I like to think of i.e. as "in explanation" and e.g. as "example given". Makes it easy to remember, and I have a hard time remembering the Latin.

3carn: That's all I ask of people. Just try to do better! ;)

Tauns: Just remember I am waiting with my shovel on the other end of the internets ;)

Frank: I think I might have talked about comma use in a post called Comma Chameleon. Search for it in the search box at the top if you're interested. I still frequently get hits to that post from people looking for "Comma Chameleon" lyrics. So I've posted a little introductory note letting people know that they want "Karma" not "Comma". Funny. As for adverbs, I don't really see a lot of adverbial problems out there. Proverbial, sure.

Erin said...

I'm trying to purge my writing of "whom" to help hasten its extinction. I can't imagine a situation where, in context, it's necessary for clarity. It needs to go away. It's nothing but a pitfall for error.

But it's hard to remember not to use it. I just had to edit a blog post to get rid of a "whomever."

I try not to get too hung up on grammar and usage because I know some people who have great ideas but never really learned the rules.

That said, I deleted more than a dozen guys from my inbox on Match.com because they confused "whether" with "weather."

Sra said...

I tend to find it difficult to forgive people who make too many routine grammatical errors. To me it just looks sloppy and careless. It's one thing to make an occasional few errors, which we all certainly do, but habitual offenders eventually lose my attention. Of course I also take into account factors such as whether English is the person's second language, in which case they get much more leeway than someone who really should know better. I can't stand people who write in text speak either. Especially in professional contexts, which I have seen, and which I find absolutely appalling.

Erin said...

I get more bogged down in poor organization. I wince at the word-by-word grammar errors (former English teacher here), but I'll keep reading if the meaning is clear.

Massive paragraphs and details that appear in no strategic order -- that makes me crazy. Someone can learn the rules of grammar, but there's very little hope for a writer whose mind cannot organize information. That's probably my leftover frustration from trying to teach!

Sra said...

I agree, organization is very important. It seems kids these days can't even complete a sentence, let alone organize a paragraph or an essay. I shudder for the future.

Erin said...

I'm trying to purge my writing of "whom" to help hasten its extinction. I can't imagine a situation where, in context, it's necessary for clarity. It needs to go away. It's nothing but a pitfall for error.

But it's hard to remember not to use it. I just had to edit a blog post to get rid of a "whomever."

I try not to get too hung up on grammar and usage because I know some people who have great ideas but never really learned the rules.

That said, I deleted more than a dozen guys from my inbox on Match.com because they confused "whether" with "weather."

tauns said...

You now have me scared that I used whom when it should have been who. Oh crap, I am pretty sure I am on your hit list!

Post a Comment