Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From the Style Guide: Who/Whom

Usage of whom is becoming increasingly rare. Some say it's inappropriate for casual genre writing. However, this depends in part on the tone of the manuscript. Use the overall tone as a guide.

The test for appropriate who/whom usage is fairly simple. Whom and him both end in the letter M. Who and he do not. If you can accurately substitute the word him in the phrase or clause under question, then whom also may be used. If you can accurately substitute he, then who may be used.

Example:
The new writer, (who/whom) submitted a manuscript today, has never published before now.

The clause in question is (who/whom) submitted a manuscript.
You would not say, “him submitted a manuscript.” You would say, “he submitted a manuscript.”
Therefore, the correct choice is who. (No M.)


Example:
Are you the right person to (who/whom) I should submit my manuscript?

The clause in question is to (who/whom) I should submit my manuscript.
You would not say, “I should submit my manuscript to he.” You would say, “I should submit my manuscript to him.”
Therefore, the correct choice is whom. (With the M.)

Theresa

6 comments:

Kaitlyn R. Miller said...

That's exactly the trick I use. Easy to use, easy to remember.

Leona said...

For Whom the Bell Tolls...

When did you find time to write this post?

I know you said if you want something done give it to a busy person, but sheesh.

Note, I am so tired from family stuff and making the 50k that not only did I not write my winners blog yet, I did not post the 4k from other works that became eligible after I won. (You can only count the one until you win, then you are free to go on to the next project or something like that :P)

How do you do it?

PS I received only about 4 hours of sleep last night. LOL Good thing I finished Nano yesterday!

Yvonne Osborne said...

AMEN.

Your post was as straightforward as the rule.

Coolkayaker1 said...

That is wonderful advice. I've never heard it put that way before. Thanks, Theresa. And I did get your paypal message and look forward to a future course or having you review my manuscript in 2011. Thanks.

Jessica Lei said...

I've never had too many hang-ups with this because most of the time when you need to use 'whom' it just sounds wrong to use 'who'. It is nice to have a little trick to double check myself, though :) Great as always.

Julie Musil said...

I've never heard of this brilliant trick. Thank you!