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Grammatik auf Englisch - Who oder whom?

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Who Englisch, Whom Englisch

Many people - even native speakers - have trouble determining whether to use who or whom in a sentence. It gets even trickier with whoever and whomever. Here's a way to solve the dilemma and know which to use every time.


Who and whom



When used as a subject, who is correct. When used as an object, whom ls correct:

Henry VIII had eight wives and killed two of them.

Henry VIII = subject = who

Who had eight wives and killed two of them?


We can always call Robert if we run into problems.


Robert = object = whom

Whom can we always turn to if we run into problems?



At first glance, these two rules look straightforward and easy to apply, but it's not always so easy. Which would you use?

It was Elizabeth Bennett, I think, who/ whom was running the show last year.

The senior managers, four of who/whom are facing indictment for embezzlement, flew to Bali yesterday to escape extradition.



Once again, they key is to determine whether who is being used as a subject or an object. Therefore:

It was Elizabeth Bennett, I think, who was running the show last year.

The senior managers, four of whom are facing indictment for embezzlement, flew to Bali yesterday to escape extradition.



Unfortunately, determining whether who is being used as a subject or object is also not always so easy. Here's where native speakers often meet with difficulty. Which would you choose?

Monica Fleen consulted with a lawyer who/whom she met in Brisbane.

Barton Fink is the engineer who/whom got the promotion.

Bernard Cruthers is the architect who/ whom found the lurking problem with our building's structural dynamics.


Here's the analysis:

Monica Fleet consulted with
a lawyer whom she met in Brisbane.


The lawyer is the object. Monica met him in Brisbane.

Barton Fink is the engineer who/whom got the promotion.

Barton (the engineer) is the subject. He got the promotion, thus Barton Fink is the engineer who got the promotion.

Bernard Caruthers is the architect who/ whom found the lurking problem with our building's structural dynamics.

The architect found the problem. Architect is the subject. Thus Bernard Caruthers is the architect who found the lurking problem with our building's structural dynamics.


You can boil this information down into a very useful trick. If you would use he or she in the sentence, use who. If you would use him or her, then use whom.


Sadly, this doesn't clear everything up. Try this one:

The representatives differed as to who/ whom they thought might win the nomination.


Gotcha! Most people here would choose whom as the correct word to use, after all: to him, to whom. But that's not the way it works. An important precept of English is that every verb with a tense must have a subject. In this example, the key verb is win, not differed. In such cases, always boil the sentence down to its simplest elements and then decide whether to use who or whom. They thought he might win. Thus: The representatives differed as to who they thought might win the nomination.


Now try these:

I decided to sit with whoever/whomever showed up first.

We should give the award to whoever/ whomever deserves it most.


Gotcha (maybe)! Whoever is correct in both places! In the first example, it's easy to read I decided to sit with him, which would make it whomever. In fact, he showed up first is the entire object of the preposition with. This means him cannot be evaluated independently as the object of with, but rather as the subject of show up. Thus I decided to sit with whoever showed up first.

In the second example, it's the same again. He deserves it most is the object of the preposition to, making it We should give the award to whoever deserves it most.


Two rules to apply

If your head is spinning from the last discussion, these two rules will help you cut through the fog:

  1. Substitute he/him or she/her into
    the sentence. If he/she is correct,
    use who/whoever. If him/her is cor-
    rect, use whom/whomever.


  2. Remember that every verb with a
    tense must have a subject. This helps
    you cut through the trickiness at the
    end of the last section. Referring
    back to the first example:
    I decided to sit with whoever/whom-
    ever showed up first. I
    is the subject
    of decided. He can then be used as
    the subject of show up. Thus who-
    ever
    is correct. This rule always takes
    precedence over rule 1.
Maybe you're thinking whomever is
never used, but here's an example:
We'll hire whoever/whomever you
recommend.


Here, they key is not we'll hire him,
but rather you recommend him thus
whomever.

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Who Englisch, Whom Englisch

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