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Can You Pass This Pronoun Test?

We are focusing on pronoun problems that come up in business writing classes. Take the test, and then check your answers.

In each sentence, choose the pronoun that is correct according to the rules of grammar.

  1. After the concert please give the cash drawer to Lizzie or I / me / myself.
  2. Erika and I / me / myself both made reservations at the French restaurant.
  3. I hope Richard will give Eva and I / me / myself a ride to the airport.
  4. The proposal was prepared by Product Development, with some input from I / me / myself.
  5. Who / Whom have you told about the plant closure?
  6. Nadine will speak to whoever / whomever asks about Dale’s termination.
  7. Whoever / Whomever Greg hires, I promise to support the individual 100 percent.
  8. Suzan and I / me / myself are leading the project together.
  9. Who / Whom wrote this excellent summary?
  10. Jessica will let me know her choice, whoever / whomever it is.

Bonus Questions

A. Whoever/ Whomever is responsible for the budget should be told about this expenditure.
B. I wrote to the woman who’s / whose name appeared at the bottom of the article.
C. Brent and she / her planned the entire event.

Here are the correct answers according to the rules:

1. me    2. I    3. me    4. me    5. Whom    6. whoever

7. Whomever    8. I    9. Who    10. whoever

A. Whoever   B. whose    C. she

For explanations of the rules covering Items 1 to 10, read “Things You Must Know About Pronouns” in the newsletter. Here are brief explanations for A, B, and C:

A. Whoever is correct because “is responsible” needs a subject. Whoever is a subject pronoun.

B. Whose is correct as a possessive form; who’s is the contraction of “who is.”

C. She is correct as a subject pronoun: “She planned the entire event.”

Which pronoun puzzles stump you in your business writing? 


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

14 comments on “Can You Pass This Pronoun Test?”

  • If whomever is the object of hires in #7, why isn’t whomever the object of is in #10?

  • Number 5 surprised me – “Whom have you told…” Although I can see why it is correct, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use “whom” in a sentence like that. Maybe it’s time to get rid of “whom” just like the hyphen in e-mail!

  • Hi Lynn,

    I wanted to thank you for this post and your last email. I have never known when to use “whom” instead of “who” – now, thanks to your explanation, I do!

  • Hi, Val. You are correct about “whom.” It does sound odd, yet it is correct.

    Here is the advice I gave in the newsletter: When it is important that you be correct, use the object pronoun “whom” in sentences like [Number 5]. However, if it is more important that you sound casual, you may want to use the incorrect “who.”

    People who write for strict grammarians need to choose “whom” in those situations.


  • Hi Lynn,
    Thank you for your post. It is very useful. Just one question : what is the rule in “She is taller than I/me” ? Thank you.

  • Hi, Hélène. Good question! The traditionally correct answer is “She is taller than I.” The reason is that the full sentence would be “She is taller than I am.”

    My answer presents the traditional approach. When I have time in the next few days, I will check my references to see whether the experts have softened to allow “me.”


  • I got one wrong (still an “A” grade though)—the same that Rob at the top of the comments missed and for the same reason. Glad to be corrected and know why I made this mistake.

    As an aspiring multi-lingual, I have studied several languages and have come to the conclusion that ‘who’ and ‘whom’ will indeed eventually merge into one multipurpose word, and that word will be ‘who.’ If you look at the history of the language you will see that English has already consolidated some words. I expect that because there is some confusion, even among educated people, ‘who’ and ‘whoever’ will become the norm in all situations.

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