Who/Whom, Whoever/Whomever: Test Yourself

The other day a friend told me he was concerned about having taken on a copy editing job because he didn't yet feel confident of who/whom and whoever/whomever.

How about you? Are you confident about where to use those pronouns? Take the test below to see whether your confidence or lack of it is warranted. 

 

Test Yourself 

Select the correct word from the bolded choices in each of these sentences. Then check your answers below. 

1. Who / Whom is the man Jamie invited to the gallery opening? 

2. Of course, she can invite whoever / whomever she chooses. 

3. I am not sure who / whom to vote for in the primary. 

4. Don't you vote for whoever / whomever the paper endorses? 

5. I don't care for the salutation To Who / Whom It May Concern. 

6. I will be happy to work with whoever / whomever is chosen. 

7. The minutes do not say who / whom is going to staff the booth. 

8. Whoever / Whomever edited this article did an excellent job. 

9. Do you know who / whom is scheduled to work at 3 p.m.? 

10. Who / Whom did Charlie interview this morning? 

11. Pastries in the break room for whoever / whomever wants them! 

12. Whoever / Whomever Josh hires has to be highly organized.   

 

Were those easy choices? Before scrolling down to compare your answers with mine, use this hint to check your work: Who, whom, whoever, and whomever were each used three times in the sentences above. Count your pronouns to see whether you have three of each. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer Key 

1. Who is the man Jamie invited to the gallery opening? 

2. Of course, she can invite whomever she chooses. 

3. I am not sure whom to vote for in the primary. (Many people use the informal "who to vote for" in spoken English.) 

4. Don't you vote for whomever the paper endorses? (Many people use the informal "for whoever" in spoken English.) 

5. I don't care for the salutation To Whom It May Concern. 

6. I will be happy to work with whoever is chosen. 

7. The minutes do not say who is going to staff the booth. 

8. Whoever edited this article did an excellent job. 

9. Do you know who is scheduled to work at 3 p.m.? 

10. Whom did Charlie interview this morning? (Informally, people say and write "Who did Charlie interview?")

11. Pastries in the break room for whoever wants them!

12. Whomever Josh hires has to be highly organized. (Informally, people say and write "Whoever Josh hires.")  

 

Explanation

The important thing to know is that who and whoever are subjects. They appear as subjects of sentences and clauses. You use them wherever you might use I, he, she, they, and we, which are other subject pronouns. 

Examples:

1. Who is the man Jamie invited to the gallery opening? 
Who is the subject of the clause "Who is the man." You use who just as you would use he: "He is the man." 

6. I will be happy to work with whoever is chosen. 
Whoever is the subject of the clause "Whoever is chosen." You use whoever just as you would use she: "She is chosen." 

7. The minutes do not say who is going to staff the booth.
(He is going to staff the booth.) 

8. Whoever edited this article did an excellent job.
(They edited this article.) 

9. Do you know who is scheduled to work at 3 p.m.?
(She is scheduled to work at 3 p.m.) 

11. Pastries in the break room for whoever wants them!
(We want them.) 

 

Unlike who and whoever, whom and whomever are object pronouns. They are used as objects of verbs and prepositions. That means verbs and prepositions lead up to or point to them.
Examples: You like whom? (Like is a verb.) For whom is this pizza? (For is a preposition.)

Who Whom question

Note: In spoken English, many people avoid whom where it is correct. They use the more informal-sounding who. For example, in this photo, many people would choose "Who are these books for?" However, "Whom are these books for?" is correct. Whom is the object of the preposition for. You may choose your pronoun depending on how informal you want to sound in a given situation. 

Whom and whomever are used where other object pronouns such as him, her, and them appear. 

Examples:

2. Of course, she can invite whomever she chooses. 
Whomever is the object of the verb chooses. 
(She chooses whomever. She chooses him.)

3. I am not sure whom to vote for in the primary. 
Whom is the object of the preposition for. 
(Vote for whom? Vote for him.)

4. Don't you vote for whomever the paper endorses? 
Whomever is the object of the verb endorses. 
(The paper endorses whomever. The paper endorses them.)

5. I don't care for the salutation To Whom It May Concern. 
Whom is the object of the verb phrase may concern. 
(It may concern whom? It may concern them.) 

10. Whom did Charlie interview this morning? 
Whom is the object of the verb phrase did interview.
(Charlie interviewed whom? Charlie interviewed them.)

12. Whomever Josh hires has to be highly organized. 
Whomever is the object of the verb hires.
(Josh hires whomever. Josh hires her.)

 

You may get confused if you don't recognize clauses within sentences. You may want to change "Pastries in the break room for whoever wants them!" because you see "for whoever" and want to make it "for whomever." But whoever is the subject of the verb wants in the clause "whoever wants them." 

Likewise, you may want to change "Do you know who is scheduled to work at 3 p.m.?" because you think "do you know" requires an object, whom. But who is the subject of the clause "who is scheduled."

Are you ready to test yourself again? Try these six sentences. 

1. Who / Whom do you intend to recommend for the position? 

2. I don't know who / whom will win the competition. 

3. For who / whom are these flowers? 

4. Please give this message to whoever / whomever is on duty. 

5. Whoever / Whomever asks the first question gets a prize. 

6. Ask whoever / whomever you see first to unlock the closet. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer Key

1. Whom do you intend to recommend for the position? 

2. I don't know who will win the competition. 

3. For whom are these flowers? 

4. Please give this message to whoever is on duty. 

5. Whoever asks the first question gets a prize. 

6. Ask whomever you see first to unlock the closet. 

 

Did any items fool you? Please share your comments and questions. 

Other blog posts with tips on who/whom and whoever/whomever:

Tricky Pronouns: Whoever and Whomever

Test Yourself: Which Pronoun Is Correct?
(This one also covers I, me, and myself.) 

P.S. I just grammar-checked the original test items. I created one set of 12 with the first word choice (who, whoever) and a second set with the second word choice (whom, whomever). Microsoft caught three errors, and Grammarly caught five–of a total of twelve errors. Thanks to John Benner for recommending this grammar-check test. 

Lynn
Syntax Training

16 COMMENTS

  1. KL, I’m pleased that you did so well on the test. I’m not pleased that you have decided to characterize my work as pandering. I have explained the rules carefully and correctly, and I support them. The fact that I recognize that people may choose to communicate more informally (which is especially important for global readers to understand) makes me a realist. What does your approach make you?

    If you intend to continue a string of negative comments as you did with an earlier post, I will block your comments. If you want to have an earnest discussion, I am open to it.

    Lynn

  2. Thanks for sharing this post and the exercises Lynn. I don’t normally engage much, but I read, follow, and appreciate your work so much! It is very helpful for non-native English speakers like me, who are challenged to learning how to write well in English every workday! Thank you! And cheers to mutual respect and appreciation!

  3. Ivan, thank you for taking the time to share a thoughtful comment. I appreciate it!

    I’m editing this comment, which I wrote last night, after another reader questioned me about it. You will notice some differences in the paragraphs below.

    I would like to return your kindness by making a small correction. I hope that’s okay with you. “To learning” is not correct. Was that perhaps a typo? What you wanted was “to learn.”

    Although “to learn” and “learning” are sometimes interchangeable, the -ing form in your example (“to learning”) is not correct with “to.”

    These examples are interchangeable:
    To learn is very rewarding.
    Learning is very rewarding.

    Notice that in both examples the words before “is” serve as a noun, the thing that is the subject of the sentence.

    In your example, “who are challenged to learning how to write well,” it would be correct to say “challenged learning” or “challenged to learn.” But “challenged to learning” is incorrect.

    I wish I could say that “to” never works with an -ing form, but that is not the case. These examples are correct:

    I am open to learning the violin.
    He is looking forward to eating sushi.
    We are averse to getting a puppy.

    In the examples above the word “to” acts as a preposition, the same way it does in these examples:

    I am open to violin lessons.
    He is looking forward to vacation.
    We are averse to the work of training a puppy.

    I hope these comments are helpful rather than confusing. As a native English speaker, sometimes I am challenged to explain concepts that I have been applying since early childhood.

    Again, thank you for your generous comment.

    Lynn

  4. Dear Lynn:

    I have passed the tests! I have learned the usage of Who/Whom from one of your previous blogs. Thank you!

    Regarding the usage of “to + verb” and “to + gerund”, I understand it depends on if “to” is a preposition or an infinitive in a sentence. Sometimes, I have trouble discerning that. Would you help me?

    Thank you,

    Tracy

  5. Wow, thanks Lynn! This was very eye-opening! I thought I knew this one but I got many wrong in the first test. Thanks to your explanations, the second test was easier. I just assumed every time I see a ‘to’ or ‘for’ it should be followed by whom. Now I’ll be much more discriminating. 🙂

    Your blog has helped my writing and editing skills so much! Thanks for all you do!

  6. Tracy, thank you so much for correcting me about “to” and -ing forms. I had forgotten about the use with prepositions. I will do my best to correct my comment to Ivan.

    I’m glad you passed the tests!

    Lynn

  7. Thanks for the brush up on this subject. I, too, was caught by the use of “to” and “for.” But it all makes sense! I just hope my 50-year-old brain can retain it.

  8. Nice work, MeshLynn! I know you can retain it. One way is to review this blog post–or others on the topic–several days in a row. Or write your own examples for several days. Those activities will help your learning stick.

    Lynn

  9. Lynn, thank you for your remarks on “to + verb” and “to + gerund”. I must confess I had to stop and think about which form was right in this case. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong one… maybe this could be a topic for further discussion later on!

  10. Lynn, I wish there was a “like” button for some of your comments! I appreciate your clear and thoughtful communication.

    I just took the test and got two wrong. I have never been confident with the who/whom question. However, after taking the test and reading your explanations, I have a better understanding. Now if I can only remember!

  11. Hi Lynn;
    I can say I passed the test with a pair of mistakes. But thanks to your post, I have a better understanding of this topic.

    Thanks a lot!!

    Greetings.

    Filomena

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