Tricky Pronouns: Whoever and Whomever

In a comment on last week's pronoun tips and test, a reader named Jasmine asked for more examples of whomever. Whoever and whomever can be very tricky because they do not always play the role they seem to be playing in a sentence. Here are more examples of those tricky pronouns, followed by another test. 

Reminder: Whoever is a subject pronoun. It serves as a subject of a verb.

Whoever is hungry can have the leftover pizza. (Whoever is the subject of the verb is, like "He is hungry.")

Give the package to whoever comes for it. (Whoever is the subject of the verb comes, like "He comes for it.")

I am happy with whoever wins. (Whoever is the subject of the verb wins, like "He wins.")

Whoever is also correct as a subject complement, with linking verbs such as is, are, and will be.

Whoever it was did not leave her name.

Whoever they are, I like their confidence. 

Reminder: Whomever is an object pronoun. It serves as an object of a verb or a preposition.

Please invite whomever you choose. (Whomever is the object of the verb choose, like "You choose him.")

Whomever Kate marries is none of our business. (Whomever is the object of the verb marries, like "Kate marries him.")

I am eager to work with whomever Dale selects as my partner. (Whomever is the object of the verb selects, like "Dales selects her.")

Whomever Human Resources recommends as a consultant, we will still need to interview him or her. (Whomever is the object of the verb recommends, like "Human Resources recommends him.")

I will be glad to meet whomever Jon introduces me to. (Whomever is the object of the preposition to, like "Jon introduces me to him.")

TEST: Choose the correct pronoun in each sentence.

1. Whoever/Whomever you hire, I will respect your decision.

2. Whoever/Whomever volunteers to take minutes also needs to send out the agenda.

3. Whoever/Whomever Thalia used, he is obviously a great landscape designer.

4. Please reply to whoever/whomever Enno included on the To line.

5. These decisions should be left for whoever/whomever takes over Clara's job.

6. Whoever/Whomever survives the primary will face a prominent Democrat.

7. Whoever/Whomever the CEO recommends will undoubtedly be considered for the position.

8. We will interview whoever/whomever meets the criteria.

9. I spoke to whoever/whomever Yvette transferred me to.

10. Whoever/Whomever she is, this artist is fabulous.

 

Before you compare your answers with mine, check to be sure that half of your answers are whoever and half are whomever. 

TEST ANSWER KEY

1. Whomever

2. Whoever

3. Whomever

4. Whomever

5. whoever

6. Whoever

7. Whomever

8. whoever

9. whomever

10. Whoever

 

Whoever you are, I am wondering: Did you do well?

Lynn
Syntax Training

 

 

37 COMMENTS

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

  2. 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

  3. 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? 😉

  4. 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.

  5. “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!

    Jeff

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Lynn,

    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.

  10. 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.

    Lynn

  11. Hi there, is this correct? Any why?

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

    Thank you.

  12. 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…

  13. 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.

    Lynn

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