I’ll be honest here…I have no idea when to use whom so, like most people, I just don’t ever whip it out. But if you’re someone who likes to sound smart and use proper grammar like an educated person and all of that, you might want to be able to use ‘whom’ when it’s appropriate.
But when is that, exactly? Well, we’re both about to learn, using this simple trick.
It’s a mnemonic device – the idea is you just mentally exchange the ‘who’ or ‘whom’ in the sentence with he or him. If he makes the sentence correct, then you use ‘who,’ but if him fits the bill, you should go with ‘whom’ (if the situation is formal enough to warrant it).
The device works because ‘who’ and ‘he’ are both subjective pronouns, meaning you use them to refer to the subject of the sentence, while ‘whom’ and ‘him’ are objective pronouns, meaning they refer to the object of the sentence.
It works even better if you rephrase the questions as statements.
For example: “Whom will you invite to dinner?” is correct, and you can figure this out by switching the question to a statement and using ‘you’ as the subject. “You will invite him to dinner,” not “You will invite he to dinner.”
Also, the trick isn’t sexist – she and her, and they and them also work – but he and him sound similar to who and whom, which makes things easier on your brain.
And let’s be honest, when it comes to using proper grammar, anything you can do to make it easier is a benefit, if you ask me.
Are you going to use this trick? Do you even care whether you ever use whom?
I think this is so easy I might actually start trying it!