Sadly, freelance writers and editors don’t usually make a fortune, so I don’t need to worry about this question. What I do need to worry about is making sure I catch incorrect usage of who and whom. It confuses the heck out of most people (me too, until the light bulb finally went on). It’s not that difficult, but many of us seize up with grammar angst when we hear something like this: Who is in the nominative (subjective) case and should be used only as a subject. Whom is in the objective case and should only be used as a direct or indirect object. If you’re cringing, or your eyes have glazed over, here’s a cool trick:
Answer the question using he/she and him/her. If the answer is he/she, use who. If the answer is him/her, use whom. Give it a try.
I will leave my fortune to he (nope, that’s not it).
I will leave my fortune to him (eureka). To whom shall I leave my fortune is correct.
Shall we try a few more? How pathetic…I love this stuff!
- (Who/Whom) do you love?
- Caroline is the one (who/whom) will get hired.
- Caroline is the one (Who/whom) you will hire.
Before I share the answers, which you undoubtedly got correct using this great trick, I thought I’d mention a fabulously funny site that has some great grammar comics. If you’ve got time to waste and can’t get enough of who and whom, check out The Oatmeal.
So, did you get them right?
- Whom do you love? (I love him/her)
- Caroline is the one who will get hired. (She will get hired)
- Caroline is the one whom you will hire.(You will hire her)
By the way, I wouldn’t advise using a convoluted sentence like the last one, but it is technically correct.