Who or Whom? Exercise (261)

The subject form who has largely replaced the object form whom--at least in informal speech and writing. Nevertheless, many writers continue to distinguish between the two. Choose the form that best fits the blanks in the following sentences.

  • I’d like to know ___ left the lights on all night.

  • Please point out the person ___ should receive this delivery.

  • Yes, this is the Baxter residence. ___ shall I say is calling?

  • My favorite amateur detectives are the ones with a faithful retainer ___ sees to every need.

  • Of the ageing Queen Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh once remarked, "She is a lady ___ time has surprised."

Answers and Explanations

1. I’d like to know who left the lights on all night.

Who is the subject of the verb left. The object of the verb know is the entire clause: "who left the lights on all night."

2. Please point out the person who should receive this delivery.

Who is the subject of the verb should receive.

3. Yes, this is the Baxter residence. who shall I say is calling?

At first glance it may seem that the pronoun is the object of the verb say, but it isn’t. Who is the subject of is calling.

4. My favorite amateur detectives are the ones with a faithful retainer who sees to every need.

Who is the subject of the clause "who sees to every need."

5. Of the ageing Queen Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh once remarked, "She is a lady whom time has surprised."

Whom is the object of the verb has surprised.

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