It’s a silly question, but let’s be honest with ourselves. When’s the last time you heard someone say “whom”? Exactly, it’s not really part of our everyday speech. Unless you’ve written or read a cover letter recently (i.e. To Whom It May Concern), chances are you’re not exposed enough to the word to know how to use it correctly.
However, just because you don’t hear “whom” very often among friends and family doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a place in written English. In fact, “whom” serves a very specific purpose when writing and, contrary to popular belief, it’s actually pretty easy to use.
Who vs Whom
Who = The person who is doing something
Whom = The person who is having something done to them
For example: “John dumped water on Steve’s head.”
Who dumped water on Steve’s head? John
On whom did John dump water? Steve
However, an easier way to remember this is with he/him. If you can use “he” in the sentence then you can use “who.” Likewise, if you can use “him” in the sentence then you want to use “whom.”
He = Who
For example: “Who/Whom called you yesterday?”
“Him called you yesterday.” No, that sounds wrong.
“He called you yesterday.” Yup, that sounds good.
Therefore you want to say “Who called you yesterday?”
Him = Whom
For example: “To Who/Whom did you give your books?”
“I gave my books to he.” No, that doesn’t right.
“I gave my books to him.” Yes, this is correct.
Therefore you want to say “To whom did you give your books?”
You can probably get by the rest of your life without ever using “whom” and no one will ever be the wiser. However, if you know how to use it correctly, it’s an easy way to score bonus points with teachers and other people who may read your writing. Hope this helps!