See also: who'm

English edit

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Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English whom, wham, from Old English hwām, hwǣm, from Proto-Germanic *hwammai, dative case of *hwaz (who, what). Cognate with Scots wham (whom), German wem (whom, to whom), Danish hvem (who, whom), Swedish vem (who, whom).

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /huːm/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːm

Pronoun edit

whom (singular and plural objective case of who) (formal)

  1. (interrogative) What person or people; which person or people.
    1. As the object of a verb.
      Whom did you ask?
      • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XVIII, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, →OCLC:
        “Oh?” she said. “So you have decided to revise my guest list for me? You have the nerve, the – the –” I saw she needed helping out. “Audacity,” I said, throwing her the line. “The audacity to dictate to me who I shall have in my house.” It should have been “whom”, but I let it go. “You have the –” “Crust.” “– the immortal rind,” she amended, and I had to admit it was stronger, “to tell me whom” – she got it right that time – “I may entertain at Brinkley Court and who” – wrong again – “I may not.”
    2. As the object of a preposition.
      To whom are you referring?
      With whom were you talking?
  2. (relative) Used to refer to a previously mentioned person or people.
    That is the woman whom I spoke to earlier. (defining)
    Mr Smith, whom we all know well, will be giving the speech. (non-defining)
    He's a person with whom I work. (defining)
    We have ten employees, half of whom are carpenters. (non-defining)
    • 1935, George Goodchild, chapter 1, in Death on the Centre Court:
      “Anthea hasn't a notion in her head but to vamp a lot of silly mugwumps. She's set her heart on that tennis bloke [] whom the papers are making such a fuss about.”
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter I, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, →OCLC:
      The eminent brain specialist to whom she alluded was a man I would not have cared to lunch with myself, our relations having been on the stiff side since the night at Lady Wickham's place in Hertfordshire when, acting on the advice of my hostess's daughter Roberta, I had punctured his hot-water bottle with a darning needle in the small hours of the morning. Quite unintentional, of course.
  3. (fused relative, archaic outside set patterns) The person(s) whom; whomever.
    To whom it may concern, all business of John Smith Ltd. has now been transferred to Floggitt & Runne.

Usage notes edit

  • Who is a subject pronoun. Whom is an object pronoun. To determine whether a particular sentence uses a subject or an object pronoun, rephrase it to use he/she/they or him/her/them instead of who, whom; if you use he, she or they, then you use the subject pronoun who; if you use him, her or them, then you use the object pronoun. The same rule applies to whoever/whosoever/whoso and whomever/whomsoever/whomso. In the case of who(m)(so)ever, which usually plays a role in two phrases at once, it is the role in the internal ("downstairs") clause that determines the case. For example, Sell the sofa to whoever offers the most money for it uses whoever because it is the subject of the verb offers; the fact that it is also the object of to is irrelevant.
  • Who can also be used as an object pronoun, especially in informal writing and speech (hence one hears not only whom are you waiting for? but also who are you waiting for?), and whom may be seen as (overly) formal; in some dialects and contexts, it is hardly used, even in the most formal settings. As an exception to this, fronted prepositional phrases almost always use whom, e.g. one usually says with whom did you go?, not *with who did you go?. However, dialects in which whom is rarely used usually avoid fronting prepositional phrases in the first place (for example, using who did you go with?).
  • The use of who as an object pronoun is proscribed by many authorities, but is frequent nonetheless. It is usually felt to be much more acceptable than the converse hypercorrection in which whom is misused in place of who, as in *the savage whom spoke to me.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Anagrams edit

Middle English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Old English hwām, hwǣm (dative of hwā), from Proto-West Germanic *hwammē (dative of *hwaʀ), from Proto-Germanic *hwammai (dative of *hwaz), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷósmey (dative of *kʷós).

Forms with short /a/ are generalised unstressed forms.

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /hwɔːm/, /hwoːm/, /hwam/
  • (early) IPA(key): /hwɑːm/
  • (Northern) IPA(key): /hwɑːm/

Pronoun edit

whom (singular or plural, accusative and dative case, nominative who)

  1. (interrogative) (to) who, whom (accusative or dative)
  2. (relative) (to) who, whom (accusative or dative)
    • c. 1395, John Wycliffe, John Purvey [et al.], transl., Bible (Wycliffite Bible (later version), MS Lich 10.)‎[2], published c. 1410, Joon 17:3, page 62v, column 1; republished as Wycliffe's translation of the New Testament, Lichfield: Bill Endres, 2010:
      and þis is euerlaſtynge lijf .· þat þei knowen þee veri god aloone · ⁊ whom þou haſt ſent iheſu criſt
      Now this is eternal life, so they can know you, the true God alone, and Jesus Christ, who you have sent.
  3. (relative) (to) whoever, whomever (accusative or dative)
  4. (relative, uncommon) that (accusative, inanimate)
  5. (indefinite, rare) (to) anyone, someone (usually accusative or dative)

Descendants edit

  • English: whom
  • Scots: wham

References edit