Friday Fundamentals for Solid Writing Habits: Whom’s Slow Death and the Too Late Preposition

This little word, “whom” has all but left the building. It is one of the great misfortunes of our dismantled language, since it has been a rather useful term, if one had any clue how to use it.

The fading of whom is also the leading cause of another rule breaker – ending a sentence with a preposition – which I will also explain. Because we neglect to use whom properly, we end up with a poorly written sentence.

We mistakenly say, “Who are you going to the dance with?” This breaks two standards, the misuse of who and the wrongful placement of the preposition.

Instead, we would say, “With whom are you going to the dance?”  

Basics of Whom

Who is a subject of a sentence – referring to the person or noun that takes action.

Whom is the object – that which is receiving the action.

Whose implies the possessive form, showing ownership.

Who’s is a contraction, or shortened version for who is.

The Misplaced Preposition

Prepositions often modify whom, which means it informs, or impacts, the use of “whom.”

Prepositions are words that show position, such as: Under, By, With, Around, Up, Down, In, Out, and so forth.

The Solution

Because we use whom when we identify an object, we also tend to use prepositions just before that object, like so:  “For whom is that gift, Johnny?”  Or “She knew little of the woman with whom she worked.”  Or “To whom am I speaking?”

If the placement of the preposition falls prior to the object whom, you just nailed a perfect sentence!

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