Whom are you trying to impress?

You, my dear readers, may already know my views on whom (it’s pretty much a foreign word for most English speakers now). But a recent study on dating sites found out guys who use it in their profiles get more contacts from women, so I felt it would be worth explaining for TheWeek.com how it’s properly used, since so many people – including newspaper journalists who think they’re being guardians of grammar – get it wrong so often.

How and when to use ‘whom’ instead of ‘who’

And while I’m at it, I look at why we even bother at all.

2 responses to “Whom are you trying to impress?

  1. Very occasionally the who/whom distinction is useful to avoid ambiguity. If I am told “Indigo Eve just met Serenity in the street” (I am using two names from my family tree, which I have today been working on: 2 distant cousins, Indigo Eve Priestly and Serenity Priestly: yes, really) — If I hear that piece of news, I may wish to ask “Who did you say?” (= Who met Serenity?) and I may wish to ask “Whom did you say?” (= Whom did Indigo Eve meet?). A simple “Who?” will be ambiguous.

  2. Does it work the other way round? If a woman uses “whom” does she receive more messages? My guess is that it’s a different word entirely.

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