« Pronoun Tip Sheet--Pass It On! | Main | T-Shirt Error Loses Sale »

April 11, 2013


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Stephanie G

Thank you! Great explanation of two words I frequently feel unsure about. I feel much more confident after reading this post!

George Raymond

The quiz solidified my grasp.


Great timing as I was thinking about this the other day!


Got 9 of 10 on this quiz. Missed #8, the "We will interview" threw me off as to the subject / object.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks for your comments, Stephanie, George, Liz, and Phil. I am glad you found the quiz and explanations helpful.


Tushar Jain

thank you !


hi, thank you for the explanatory lesson of english writing/speaking. I have been studying and studying this subject for over a week now.......and i only got three right on your test......I am not sure what it is i am not getting.....grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..do you send newsletters to emails? thank you


oops............rechecked...."lesson "On" english writing/speaking. :)


grrrrrrrrrrr...."I only had 3 right out of ten questions."




Once again, the article hedges the examples. How about this? "Whoever/whomever I'm chastising for using only simple examples needs to learn the mastery of the language." It's an object--but is it not also a subject? Or--interesting--is the entire *clause* a subject? What happens when the folks who aced your quiz find this example down the road in real life? ;)

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Shiggity, your example presents the same challenge as the "simple" test items 1, 3, and 7. But the test items aren't snarky.


Dorothy Hale

A headline in our daily newspaper reads:
"Major statewide businesses must work with whomever's in power"
Is this correct? I think whoever sounds better.
Thanks for your advice.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Dorothy, you are right. "Whoever" is correct as the subject of the verb "is."



"Whoever/whomever I'm chastising for using only simple examples needs to learn the mastery of the language."

I agree with Lynn, this is a simple example, nothing tricky or new here. "Whomever" is the object of the verb "chastising."

The subject of the sentence is the entire dependent clause, "Whomever I'm chastising for using only simple examples."

This is high school grammar.

Great job on this article, Lynn. I recently engaged in a debate on who/whom and found that most people have absolutely NO clue how to determine the correct usage. If they see a preposition, it's automatically "whom" no matter what the function. Frustrating, the ignorance!


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks, Jeff. I appreciate your positive feedback.



Thank you so very much!!!! :)

Helen K.

If you are addressing a memo to an unknown member of a group, would the proper syntax be "To whoever used the last of the milk" or "To whomever used the last of the milk?" A co-worker and I are disagreeing on this one.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Helen,

"Whoever used the last of the milk" is correct. The verb "used" needs a subject.


Helen K.

Thank you, Lynn. I love it when I'm right. ;-)


I'm still unsure as to which term is correct although my 'ear' suggests it should read: Whoever I spoke with, they were all polite. Yet this is what I received: Whomever I talked to was so polite.
Your help would be much appreciated.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Liz,

"Whomever I talked to" is correct. "Whomever" is the object of the preposition "to": I talked to whomever.

It's not always helpful to go with what your ear suggests.



To whoever put the sign...or To whomever put the sign....? I think whoever is correct, as the verb put needs a subject. This was on a post, three people thought it necessary to comment "whomever" as a grammar correction. I'm not so sure. Thanks.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Jamie,

You are correct. "Put the sign" needs a subject pronoun.


Nancy Madson

He will be happy to work with whoever has that responsibility next, in order to get the information on-line.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Nancy, your "whoever" is correct.




I'm a little confused about the subject complement with linking verbs part of your explanation of "whoever." I think that's why the answer to #10 is "whoever," but to me, it looks a lot like the other example you have that reads "Whomever Human Resources recommends as a consultant, we will still need to interview him or her." I don't understand why it's different with linking verbs. If it's a subject complement, does that mean "whoever" is acting as an adjective?

Thanks for the great lesson. I look forward to your response.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

As you note, in Number 10 "who" is a subject complement. "Whoever she is" is essentially the same as "She is whoever." Compare this example with the traditional "It is he" / "He is it." They are pronouns, not adjectives.

In your example below, "whomever" is a direct object, similar to "HR recommends him as a consultant."

"Whomever Human Resources recommends as a consultant, we will still need to interview him or her."

I hope those examples are helpful.



Hi there, is this correct? Any why?

"Feel free to forward this around – to whomever is in the office that day"

Thank you.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Nope, it's wrong. "Is in the office that day" needs a subject, "whoever."



Hi there, is this correct?

"Please forward to whoever should attend"

thank you

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Yes, it's correct. "Should attend" needs a subject form.


Robson Oliveira

Thank you for the explanation.
I am still confused: "You can call me whatever you want, whenever you want, whomer you choose? or, whomer you want?" I was trying to write some text for a woman, in general, without do not say who is her person directly... Please help me out without some woman be angry directly...

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Robson,

The sentence doesn't make sense yet.

You might try "You can call me whatever you want, whenever you want, whomever you want." It still doesn't make real sense, but it's grammatically correct.


JerryC - go KC Chiefs

Great explanation and got them all correct!!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Nice work, JerryC!


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)