ˈhüm How to pronounce whom (audio)

objective case of who

used as an interrogative or relative
used as object of a verb or a preceding preposition
to know for whom the bell tollsJohn Donne
or less frequently as the object of a following preposition
the man whom you wrote to
though now often considered stilted especially as an interrogative and especially in oral use
occasionally used as predicate nominative with a copulative verb or as subject of a verb especially in the vicinity of a preposition or a verb of which it might mistakenly be considered the object
whom say ye that I amMatthew 16:15 (King James Version)
people … whom you never thought would sympathizeShea Murphy
whom or who?: Usage Guide

Observers of the language have been predicting the demise of whom from about 1870 down to the present day.

one of the pronoun cases is visibly disappearing—the objective case whom R. G. White (1870)
whom is dying out in England, where "Whom did you see?" sounds affected Anthony Burgess (1980)

Our evidence shows that no one—English or not—should expect whom to disappear momentarily; it shows every indication of persisting quite a while yet. Actual usage of who and whom—accurately described at the entries in this dictionary—does not appear to be markedly different from the usage of Shakespeare's time. But the 18th century grammarians, propounding rules and analogies, rejecting other rules and analogies, and usually justifying both with appeals to Latin or Greek, have intervened between us and Shakespeare. It seems clear that the grammarians' rules have had little effect on the traditional uses. One thing they have accomplished is to encourage hypercorrect uses of whom.

whom shall I say is calling?

Another is that they have made some people unsure of themselves.

said he was asked to step down, although it is not known exactly who or whom asked him Redding (Conn.) Pilot

Word History


Middle English, from Old English hwām, dative of hwā who

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of whom was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near whom

Cite this Entry

“Whom.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whom. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition



objective case of who

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